Roger’s Rules

The Pelosi Placebo, or how to anesthetize the economy for fun and profit

The first thing we have to do is stop calling it a “stimulus package.”

In an earlier post, I described it in passing as the Pelosi Placebo–“Pelosi,” after the person primarily responsible for overseeing this “legislative abomination,” “Placebo,” “something lacking intrinsic remedial value and that is done or given to humor another.” In this case, “another” are congressional Democrats who have been straining at the bit for years to glom on to your money for this or that spending spree and have suddenly hit upon a new formula: “People don’t like it when we go massively into debt in order to act out our redistributionist spending fantasies, so let’s not call it the mother of all spending bills (which is what it really is) but, rather, a ‘stimulus package.’ It will take ages for the suckers whose lives we run to notice that the only thing this trillion dollars stimulates is credulousness.”

As Karl Rove noted in The Wall Street Journal the other day, what Congress is preparing to shove down our throats is “a mammoth spending bill, not a stimulus or jobs package.”

It is not surprising that the stimulus package is laden with new spending programs. Congressional appropriators, not job creators, wrote H.R. 1. Much of it is spending Democrats couldn’t get approved in the normal course of affairs. And it should not shock Americans that Democratic appropriators would funnel tax dollars to the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now, unions and other liberal special interests.

Rove is right, but he really should follow his own point and refrain from calling this piece of legislative larceny a “stimulus package.” It is not a stimulus package, except in the derivative sense that it can be counted upon to stimulate that appetite for ever more government spending.

It’s not a stimulus package. Then what is it? A fraud on the taxpayer? Yes. A massive transfer payment to various Democratic special interests? Yes. Another notch in the ratchet that is pushing the United States in the direction of top-down bureaucratic socialism à la Sweden? You betcha. Mark Steyn produced what is perhaps the most vivid analogy. You know that unemployed mother of six who, thanks to the miracle of modern medicine, just gave birth to another 8 babies? She’s been all over the news and has been the object of lots of finger waving. But why criticize her for irresponsibility when your government (forgive that anachronistic “your”) is doing the same thing, but on a much, much bigger scale. As Steyn explains,

last week, I got a little muddled over two adjoining newspaper clippings – one on the stimulus, the other on those octuplets in California – and for a brief moment the two stories converged. Everyone’s hammering that mom – she’s divorced, unemployed, living in a small house with parents who have a million bucks’ worth of debt, and she’s already got six kids. So she has in vitro fertilization to have eight more. But isn’t that exactly what the Feds have done? Last fall, they gave birth to $850 billion of bailout they couldn’t afford and didn’t have enough time to keep an eye on, and now, four months later, they’re going to do it all over again, but this time they want trillionuplets. Barney and Nancy represent the in vitro fertilization of the federal budget. And it’s the taxpayers who’ll get stuck with the diapers.

And diapers, of course, are only the beginning of the unpleasant byproducts this orgy of spending will create. Even the Congressional Budget Office estimates that only 7 percent of the zillions of dollars Congress is about to extract from your pocket would “be injected into the economy by the end of fiscal year 2009. More than $200 billion of ‘stimulus’ funds will be spent between fiscal year 2010 and fiscal year 2019 — long after the recession is projected to be over.” Former scourge of feminists, now White House economic advisor, Larry Summers said that any stimulus must be “targeted, timely and temporary.” Good luck, Larry! Karl Rove is right: “This bill does the opposite. Mr. Obama pledged to ‘scour our federal budget, line by line, and make meaningful cuts.’ His cuts are unspecific and fanciful, while Congress’s spending will be real and record-setting. Discretionary domestic spending will have nearly doubled by the time Mr. Obama stops dithering and starts scouring.”

Everybody noted how Obama stopped talking “hope and change” and started warning about “catastrophe” as soon as serious opposition to his profligate spending plan showed itself. He wants the money, he wants it now, and he wants it to “spread the wealth around,” pay back his constituents, and acclimate more people to government handouts. “I won,” Obama said when Republicans in the Senate had the temerity to question the wisdom of his spending blowout. Yes, he won alright. But how about the rest of us?