The headline could rightly be an article at satirical humor newspaper The Onion, but it’s sadly true. After a $787 billion stimulus bill, a $700 billion bank bailout, and a $4 trillion proposed budget, President Obama signed a $410 omnibus spending bill into law. The bill contained some 9000 earmarks, and Obama, promising during the campaign to end earmarks, called it imperfect but necessary. Laughably, after signing it, he says that this is absolutely positively the last time the old way of doing business is done. Right away he issued a signing statement about future earmark restrictions that is already meeting Democratic opposition. Like everything else, I’ll believe it when I see it applied consistently. I’m not hopeful.
Apologists falsely declare that this particular omnibus spending bill is absolutely essential to government function. It’s a patently false claim, as a series of continuing resolutions could have instead been enacted while a much pared-down version of the bill was hammered out. Instead, the drunken Congressional spending spree continues, with Speaker Nancy Pelosi suggesting a second stimulus package might be in the works. It all smells to me that instead of keeping the welfare of the American people in mind, Congress instead will hurry up and spend, spend, spend on their favorite social programs before the majority of the public takes notice.
If Obama had hoped to be termed fiscally responsible, this is the last nail in that coffin. Economists are giving Obama and Secretary Geithner failing grades on their economic performance so far, as it becomes more obvious that all this reckless spending, while it may provide a momentary bounce that will undoubtedly be pounced on as proof of the “wisdom” of this strategy, will wind up doing far more harm than good by massively inflating our debt, driving higher inflation and higher taxes to sustain it all.
But more than that, Obama’s backtracking on earmarks ought to bring whatever stratospheric aspirations foisted upon him solidly back down to earth. He made a flat out about-face on an explicit pledge, publicly and early in his administration. It ought to show the most ecstatic of his supporters that, yes, Barack Obama is not a transcendental figure, he is, like everyone else in Washington, just a politician. It ought to show that, but I have no doubt the excuses will still keep coming.