Monday, February 09, 2009

Now is the time to oppose the 'Stimulus' Bill

I am only a little taken by surprise by the difficulties President Obama is having with his massive spending "stimulus" bill. Only a little, I say, because I was confident that, if he won, even with Democratic majorities, that he would not find he could pass anything he likes--contrary to the militant assertions of so many during the campaign.

Of course, he may get this bill; but if you were concerned about what a President Obama-cum-Democratic Congress would mean, you should be very encouraged by this. The President is about three weeks in, and one wonders how much of his agenda has he had to trade away in order to marshall votes for this bill? And it hasn't passed yet.

Today or tomorrow, the Senate is supposed to vote on the "compromise" made possible by weak-sister Republican members who can always be counted on to be by their phones, ready for blandishments sufficient to bring them oh-so-reluctantly before the cameras, to declare their noble intention to "bridge the gap" and "move us forward" blah, blah, blah. I really wonder if some of these characters don't get a little nervous, thinking about the terrible possibility it won't be them who gets to play the hero this time round, because that rat So-and-so will sell out for just a bit cheaper!

But don't get too worried. The bill appears to be tanking in public opinion polls, which is terrible news for Mr. Obama and the Democrats. They are increasingly pinning all their hopes on this one bill. That's a huge gamble.

Also, a wonderful feature of our Constitution is that both houses of Congress must pass identical legislation. What the Senate seems poised to endorse is different from the House bill; so either the Senate bill must be passed -- unchanged -- by the House; or else competing bills must be reconciled in a House-Senate conference--and then that "conference report" must come back to both houses for another vote. If the latter happens, that means another opportunity for a few Senators, who didn't get enough preening time before the cameras, to discover some noble reason to balk on the bill.

But, okay, what if this turkey passes? It's a bad bill, laden with huge increases in spending and special-interest "tax cuts"--but it's not really all that different from what was passed last fall, or has been passed before. Just a more concentrated dose of the same.

So far, the new Obama Administration is looking a lot like the old Bush Administration. The big spending, and interventions in the private sector, were the gift of our former president, which Obama is happily continuing. The difference is that now, the GOP shows some signs of life. There is actually someone in Congress standing up against all this. That's a change that came with the new administration, and wow is it welcome! And this is only three weeks in.

This bill has weak support; now is the time to contact your Senators especially and tell them to vote no!

Am I saying Congress shouldn't do anything about the terrible economy? No; I can think of many things Congress could do, both for short-term relief of suffering, and long-term growth. But this stampede--again, so reminiscent of what President Bush did last fall with his bank bailout--is so ridiculous. "Act now or the world will end!" Gimme a break! Yes, it may take awhile, and we may go through some hard times, but the economy will recover.

And if the economy is really as bad as President Obama says (and one must ask if his negative talk has made things worse), who thinks spending a mere trillion dollars is all it takes to turn it around? I say "mere" not because it isn't a whole lot of money--of course it is--but because it's a mere fraction of the worldwide economy. And either the government has to take that money out of the economy first, through taxes or borrowing; or else it has to invent that money out of thin air--and that's inflation. If I take $5 from Joe, and I go to the copier, and run off several copies, which I hand back to Sally and Joe, while I keep some for myself, why should any of us feel richer as a result of that exercise? And yet, that is precisely the logic of this sort of "stimulus."

I don't mean to seem too cheerful; but one reason I'm not more dolorous is that I believe things really are beginning to turn, ever so slightly, in the right direction. If this terrible bill passes (and it's possible it won't, at least without being whittled down a lot more), those who passed it will have to pray very hard that they don't face terrible problems in the next Congressional elections. The Obama White House is having to exhaust itself -- so says the President -- to marshall votes for this, then what will become of so much else he wants, that will be even more controversial? (Big spending per se, for all the problems, isn't terribly controversial, as the last administration's sorry record shows. That's part of what I find encouraging: at last, it looks like big spending is becoming a political liability; that is "change we can believe in!")

Yes, we are going to be getting some bad policy for the next few years; but we've been getting a whole lot of the same bad policy for many years up to now; what's changed is that the GOP is no longer a full-on collaborator, and instead, actually raising a protest; and the political alignment is gradually shifting, such that politicians are beginning to sense they face real consequences. A lot of Democrats are already nervous about 2010.


Wayne said...

I'm just curious if you have any thoughts on the new RNC chairman? He seems to be a good choice but I've heard mixed feelings on him.

Anonymous said...

The new RNC chairman is a strange breed - he's a pro-life Catholic! I heard that pro-life Catholic politicians were on the endangered species list.

...Sorry, I just read an article about all the pro-childing killing Catholics in Obama's cabinet and am little ... well you know.

Afro Seminarian said...

I have to question one thing Father, What should we do?
Get over loossing our jobs?
Get over lossing our homes?
Some one needs to come up with some answers.
The present situation is not working and we need real solutions to solve the problem.
I feel that if the rupublicans are not offering real insight into solving this "crisis" then they are part of the problem.


Fr. Ron Williams said...

What do you think; as Obama makes his hard sell for the so-called stimulus package, is he coming across as another Jimmy Carter? Or is it too soon in his administration to make that kind of comparison?

Father Martin Fox said...

Afro Seminarian:

We've had recessions before, we've had bubbles before; this isn't like some mysterious illness that has struck us, and we've got not a clue as to how to cure it.

If you get the flu, do you panic and say, "oh, woe is me, what shall I do?" and start running around the house, drinking anything you find, even drain cleaner, in desperate hope that something will deliver you from this malady?

If what people want is to see the economy turn around, in time, and get better, all they need to do is consult the last few recessions and see what worked. I might point out the bad times we went through in the late 1970s and early 1980s--and what worked then, and worked remarkably well--was permanent tax cuts that were aimed at spurring growth.

But--if what you or others want is for these bad times to go away immediately--then there is no remedy that is not worse than the affliction. For government to mimeograph money and spread it around risks far worse outcomes.

Father Martin Fox said...


I'd say too soon for that. I'm assuming President Obama is too smart not to have paid close attention to his last two Democratic predecessors. For that matter, he looks to me as if he's paid a fair amount of attention to Reagan; not, obviously, to the point of imitating his policy proposals, but to learning lessons from him in communication.


I don't know enough to have any real opinion. Party chairman can have some effect, but mostly they are not so significant.
Quick: can you name the last three chairmen of each major party, and identify what each of their major accomplishments were as head of their party?

Wayne said...


I admit to you that I cannot. For that matter, I'm regretfully not sure that I can name you the last three Vice Presidents and their major accomplishments. I just wanted to hear the opinion of someone who knows the way that Washington works much more than I. Thanks!

Anonymous said...

As anonymous said, Michael Steele is pro-life. In my mind that means he must be pleasing to God...and those who are pleasing to God are the only people I want in government at this time.

Regarding Bush, perhaps this explains the original bailout

Bush too is pro-life. He also had that "turn the other check" thing down pat.

Obama's advocacy of abortion makes my skin crawl everytime I see him. He is a socialist. His background is filled with despicable characters.

Ashame that Libs only judge the cover not the content.

May God forgive us and help us through this mire we find ourselves in.

Catholic Mom said...

If this was just a pork laden bill that was not going to do anything for the economy, I would oppose it it but not be too worried. However, there is a provision tucked in the pork that is frightening. I've been writing about it for the last couple of weeks. Over 1 billion dollars is set aside to set up a commission to decide who gets health care and whose life is not worth treating. It is modeled after the British National Institute for Clinical Excellence (NICE). This provision also sets up an agency to institute a uniform system of digital medical records with the explicit purpose of allowing the federal government to monitor physicians and make sure they are adhering to the party line on who deserves treatment. This is a utilitarian model of bioethics and directly opposed to Catholic moral teaching.

Father Martin Fox said...


If my comment seemed flip, I am sorry, that wasn't my purpose, I was just trying make my point about the relative importance of the party chairperson.

gramps said...

Father, they don't care if you call or not. this does not mean not to call and I have called on multiple times to multiple offices. but they do not care. They won the election and they are going to do their socialist agenda and this is only the first part.

This is far more than money. There are things in this bill that will create disasters. Having been in healthcare for over 40 years and the last 10 in electronic medical records industry, I will tell you that what is in this bill will impact the quality, quantity access, and cost of healthcare all in a negative way with pure waste of billions of dollars. As Catholic Mom has said, there are things in this bill that will create government agencies that will grow and become monsters dictating what doctors and hospitals do when treating patients. It is the beginning of plans for socialized medicine with full federal government control. This is not only me saying it, but some very knowledgeable people in the industry who have sent letters to the Obama camp asking them to stop this madness.
I can imagine that this is true in many other areas as well. Obama is trying to do what FDR and LBJ tried to do with the new deal and with the great society, but this time to do it right. We are still living with programs that are in serious trouble from their actions decades ago and we will be paying the same way for this administration. The dems found out that with FDR that if you want to control things, you need the house and the way to get it for decades is to build majorities that give out trinkets to each district to secure it forever. FDR used the depression to try to do this and if you look at the majorities he had in the house for years, it worked. At times they had 3 or 4 to one majorities over the republicans. That is why they want control of the census moved to the white house under political control so they can rearrange the boundaries and numbers by controlling the count.

The 56% of obamacaths who put this guy in the white house already have seen him act to kill more babies around the world. He is now bringing us into a socialist state where democrats control everything for decades. Father is right, if he reaches to far to fast, there could be a backlash. However, people need to pay attention which most do not.

Todd said...

From the Left, I'd say this legislation doesn't do much for me. I wonder what would happen if something truly radical was tried: let the banks fail, but erase all debts, credit cards and mortgages that go down with them. Then start over with a savings and thrift economy.

As for jobs, that's tougher. Every person in a community should be working, and collectively, businesses have an obligation to provide jobs so things get done the way they should.

Afro Seminarian said...


I know this is a tough issue to deal with, however, with the help of God, I am sure we will overcome these diffulcties as well.
Keep writing and praying father, I have enjoyed reading your blogg for while now, and keep up the great work that you are doing.

Anonymous said...

You and your little band of followers are completely in the tank for the Republican party. But that's not holy water in the tank.
Watching Republicans talk about excessive spending after they did eight years of it would be amusing if it weren't so disgusting.
After they redistributed $2 trillion dollars to the top 1 percent of wage earners, after they spent $1 trillion to wage a criminal, sinful war in Iraq, the only thing they should be doing is apologizing.

Father Martin Fox said...


I'll be surprised if you come back, but, in case you do:

Your comments make manifest you haven't read my blog.

I suggest you search my site with the words Republican or "GOP" and see if what you find bears out your unfounded accusation.