Pushing Through a Trillion Dollars Is Easy?
It will likely take months for us to publicly recognize the minutiae of HR-1, the $789-billion stimulus bill approved by the House late last week 246-183, with the GOP voting in a bloc solidly against it and taking seven Democrats along for the ride. If you believe House Minority Leader Rep. John Boehner (R-Ohio), nobody read the thing before casting a vote. And there is no guarantee that anyone in Congress will read the thing now. This Mother of All Band-Aids is 1,071 pages, nearly as long as Atlas Shrugged, another work that a lot of people pretend to have read. And its authors purport that it will save or create 3.5 million jobs, cut all of our taxes, upgrade our health care and put a little cash in our pockets. But ongoing drafts of this bill, surely the most ambitious of this century, had been as closely guarded as Hannibal Lecter in the days leading up to the vote. A final version of the bill appeared on the House Appropriations Committee website on Thursday night, hours before Congress was set to convene. And it would take even those among them with the most lawyerly of reading skills just about all night to read it. And everybody knows politicians don’t stay up all night unless they’re partying. And we suppose we could rail here in indignation against elected officials who don’t bother to read the bills upon which they vote (It was Rep. John Conyers, D-Mich., who admitted to filmmaker Michael Moore in Farenheit 911 that in Congress, most members “don’t read most of the bills”). But instead we reserve our ire for the fallacy of this new era of transparent government promised by the incoming administration. It’s right there in the Ethics section of the Change We Need document, still posted at www.barackbama.com: Create a transparent and connected democracy.” How soon they forget…. An 11 th -hour web posting of this bill — which could either serve as the playbook for our recovery or the blueprint for our demise — does not inspire trust between political parties, nor between citizens and their elected officials; and it does not bode well for the culture of open government supposedly espoused by the new regime. In fact, it looks quite a bit like the efforts of the last eight years to steamroll legislation through the necessary channels, opposing voices be damned. Fact is, the American people have lost faith in their government (in their business and banking institutions as well, but that’s another story). And President Obama’s primary mission after the last eight years should be similar to that of Jimmy Carter, who came to the White House after the taint of the Nixon administration: to restore our faith in our elected officials to have our interests in mind as they steer us out of this mess. Transparency, as far as we can see, is the best way to accomplish this. But this overarching bill, the importance of which has been dutifully hammered home by one mouthpiece after another, has been birthed under a cloud of obscurity.
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An 11 th -hourweb posting of this bill — which could either serve as the playbook forour recovery or the blueprint for our demise – does not inpsire trust…