In Denver, last August, standing in front of those stage-set columns to accept the Democratic Party nomination, Barack Obama delivered a speech that included the following promise (boldface is mine):
I will also go through the federal budget, line by line, eliminating programs that no longer work and making the ones we do need work better and cost less – because we cannot meet twenty-first century challenges with a twentieth century bureaucracy.
Today, Obama returned to Denver, and with elaborate ceremony signed the $787 billion “stimulus” bill passed last Friday by Congress, which runs to more than 1,070 pages. That left fewer than 96 hours between passage and signing (thus also violating his promise about posting legislation for five days on the internet before signing, to allow for transparency and comment).
When did Obama even find time to skim this monster bill? Let alone go through it “line by line?”
Obama enjoyed an intervening weekend heavy on R&R. Carbon-emissions-notwithstanding (personally I don’t care how much carbon he emits, but Obama wants all the rest of us to sacrifice on this front), on Friday Obama flew with his family and entourage to Chicago, where he helicoptered in from the airport, to spend time at his Chicago mansion and — as The New York Times put it — see a few friends and “reconnect to the rest of the country.” Over the weekend, he took Michelle out for a Valentine’s dinner at a South Side* restaurant. He got a haircut. He spent two hours playing basketball. He watched the N.B.A. All-Star game. He also gave his weekly video address. He then flew back to Washington, and on Tuesday flew to Denver.
Unless Obama was reading the bill over his Valentine’s dinner, and had it taped to the basketball backboard, when did he go through it line by line?
Or are we heading into realms of doublespeak and semantic slush so deep that nothing really means what it once seemed to? Obama promised to go through the budget line by line; so maybe by his lights a $787 spending bill, the biggest in history, simply doesn’t count? He promised to eliminate or streamline wasteful programs, but who decides what that means? One man’s waste is another man’s pork? One man’s tax-picked wallet is another man’s free ride?
(The motto of the restaurant Obama chose for his Valentine’s dinner, Table 52, as shown on the dinner-menu page of its web site, is — what else? — “everything tastes better when shared.” That may be true for many forms of voluntary exchange, including a romantic private dinner (Obama’s sharing at Table 52, if any, seems to have been quite private; I haven’t seen any reports that he offered portions from his own plate to the populace). But history records far less happy results when everything gets sluiced by government command through a communal pot.)
Obama promised transparency, careful consideration, and responsible spending. What we have at this point is a monumental new IOU signed by Obama on our behalf, and a web site, Recovery.gov which — when I took a look earlier today — prematurely announced his premature signing of the “stimulus” bill (it was posted as a done deal while Vice President Biden was still effusing over it in introductory remarks in Denver). Recovery.gov now offers us multi-billion-dollar-labeled pastel balloons (with labels such as $144 billion for “State and Local Fiscal Relief” and $8 billion for “Other”) and the text of the bill (which is so huge that it’s been broken into five separate pdf files). Apparently it is not Obama’s job to read what he signs; that falls to the rest of us.
Anyone care to get out the timeclock, start reading, and figure out at what rate Obama would have had to go through it line by line, to fit it into his schedule over the long weekend? More to the point, since Obama’s line-by-line Denver convention promise is clearly down the memory hole, how much work will it take by American taxpayers, who must earn this money dollar-by-dollar, to pay for this $787,000,000,000 extravaganza?
[Ed. - As some Pajamas readers point out in comments below -- Thank you! -- Table 52 is not on Chicago's South Side; it is on Chicago's up-market Gold Coast. More carbon emissions to get there.]