Let there be no doubt: Democrats are the party with two ideas: borrow and spend. The only vigorous internal debate on the left revolves around two questions: How much and how much more? Even as the first trillion-dollar stimulus craters, the debt-o-crats are floating yet another grand act of generational theft to create the illusion of jumpstarting the economy.
Call it Spawn of Spendulus. Return of the Porkulus Beast. Crap Sandwich Redux. White House economic adviser Laura D'Andrea Tyson told an international economic conference: "We should be planning on a contingency basis for a second round of stimulus." Team Obama flack Robert Gibbs says the president isn't "ruling anything out, but at the same time he's not ruling anything in." Despite the inconvenient fact that less than 10 percent of the initial stimulus has been spent (or misspent), congressional Democrats remain "open" to the idea of digging a deeper fiscal hole for your children and grandchildren.
Porkulus One was a massive payoff to special interests and political constituencies (and dead people!) disguised as a job generator. A General Accounting Office analysis this week revealed that stimulus dollars allocated to states and localities are not being spent on what they're supposed to be spent on. States are making up their own criteria for spending. The most economically distressed parts of the country are getting shortchanged. School and transportation bureaucrats are using the money to preserve their own jobs instead of "stimulating" others. And assessments of the stimulative effect of the package are a joke. As House Republicans noted: "The administration has essentially 'rigged the game' of reporting the tangible effects of its stimulus program by creating an immeasurable metric -- 'jobs created or saved' -- that no one can disprove."
Irked by the mounting evidence of stimulus failure, Vice President Joe Biden griped at a spending event on Thursday: "This ain't about swimming pools and Frisbee parks and polar bear exhibits. This is about stuff that not only passed the test of jobs, but passed the smell test. ... All the talk about how we're gonna waste all this money, that's a dog that ain't barked yet. And it's not gonna bark on my watch." Yet last month, Sen. Tom Coburn exposed 100 smelly stimulus projects worth $5.5 billion, including $3.4 million for a wildlife "eco-passage" in Florida to take animals safely under a busy roadway; nearly $10 million to renovate an unused train station; and a $2 million "weatherization" contract awarded to a Nevada nonprofit recently fired for doing the same type of work.
After failing to recognize the inevitable and inexorable political forces that turned the stimulus into the mother of all Beltway boondoggles, media outlets are now playing catch up:
USA Today reported this week that "counties that supported Obama last year have reaped twice as much money per person from the administration's $787 billion economic stimulus package as those that voted for his Republican rival, Sen. John McCain."
ABC News reported this week that the failed stimulus tracking website run by the White House, Recovery.gov, will get an additional $18 million taxpayer-funded injection to support a "redesign." The Washington Examiner's David Freddoso points out that the contract was awarded to a Maryland firm whose donors have contributed $19,000 to Maryland's House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer.
The Washington Times reported this week that "as much as $16.1 million from the stimulus program is going to save the San Francisco Bay area habitat of, among other things, the endangered salt marsh harvest mouse" in House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's backyard.
And despite all the initial focus on basic infrastructure needs, Land Line magazine reported this week that "even with federal stimulus spending that put shovels in the ground on new infrastructure projects, analysts predict an overall decline of 4.3 percent on infrastructure in 2009."
The same underhanded, transparency-defying, earmark-stuffing process that marked the porkulus beast is dominating every other pricey piece of legislation hurtling through the Democrat-led Congress. The Waxman-Markey "cap and trade" bill that passed the House two weeks ago contained bribes galore -- including a $50 million hurricane research center for Florida Democrat Alan Grayson and a $3.5 billion economic development "sweetener" package for Ohio Democrat Marcy Kaptur. The current health care takeover proposals feature a crucial payoff to Big Labor -- a golden exemption from any tax on union members' generous health care benefits.
The friends and patrons of Obama may be making out like bandits. But for everyone else, the Democrats' ideological bankruptcy comes at a nauseatingly steep price.