Simple. Easy to remember. No need to leave the golf course, or the fundraiser, or the party. Just dial it in.
President Obama wants another $50 billion. According to this Washington Post headline, he's "pleading" for it:
President Obama urged reluctant lawmakers Saturday to quickly approve nearly $50 billion in emergency aid to state and local governments, saying the money is needed to avoid "massive layoffs of teachers, police and firefighters" and to support the still-fragile economic recovery.
House Majority Leader Steny H. Hoyer understates the obvious:
"I think there is spending fatigue... It's tough in both houses to get votes."
Helping out his political comrades is standard operating procedure for Barack Obama. When the original stimulus bill was being debated the reliably Democratic feminists came calling howling. Their complaint? Too much money for the men. All those "shovel-ready" jobs Obama promised to create are traditionally held by men:
Spending fatigue? I'll say. I don't think Obama is concerned with spending fatigue, however. His agenda here is clear. The union controlled public sector must be propped up - to hell with the cost.
Last November , President-elect Obama addressed the devastation in the construction and manufacturing industries by proposing an ambitious New Deal-like program to rebuild the nation's infrastructure. He called for a two-year "shovel ready" stimulus program to modernize roads, bridges, schools, electrical grids, public transportation, and dams and made reinvigorating the hardest-hit sectors of the economy the goal of the legislation that would become the recovery act.
Women's groups were appalled. Grids? Dams? Opinion pieces immediately appeared in major newspapers with titles like "Where are the New Jobs for Women?" and "The Macho Stimulus Plan." A group of "notable feminist economists" circulated a petition that quickly garnered more than 600 signatures, calling on the president-elect to add projects in health, child care, education, and social services and to "institute apprenticeships" to train women for "at least one third" of the infrastructure jobs. At the same time, more than 1,000 feminist historians signed an open letter urging Obama not to favor a "heavily male-dominated field" like construction: "We need to rebuild not only concrete and steel bridges but also human bridges." As soon as these groups became aware of each other, they formed an anti-stimulus plan action group called WEAVE--
Women's Equality Adds Value to the Economy.
The National Organization for Women (NOW), the Feminist Majority, the Institute for Women's Policy Research, and the National Women's Law Center soon joined the battle against the supposedly sexist bailout of men's jobs. At the suggestion of a staffer to Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, NOW president Kim Gandy canvassed for a female equivalent of the "testosterone-laden 'shovel-ready' " terminology. ("Apron-ready" was broached but rejected.) Christina Romer, the highly regarded economist President Obama chose to chair his Council of Economic Advisers, would later say of her entrance on the political stage, "The very first email I got . . . was from a women's group saying 'We don't want this stimulus package to just create jobs for burly men.' "
No matter that those burly men were the ones who had lost most of the jobs. The president-elect's original plan was designed to stop the hemorrhaging in construction and manufacturing while investing in physical infrastructure that is indispensable for long-term economic growth. It was not a grab bag of gender-correct programs, nor was it a macho plan--the whole idea of economic stimulus is to use government spending to put idle factors of production back to work.
Obama didn't disappoint:
...Our incoming president did what many sensible men do when confronted by a chorus of female complaint: He changed his plan. He added health, education, and other human infrastructure components to the proposal. And he tasked Christina Romer and Jared Bernstein, Joseph Biden's chief economist, with preparing an extraordinary report that calculated not only the number of jobs the plan would likely create, but the gender composition of the various employment sectors and the division of largess between women and men.
And where did the money wind up? From a June 4, 2009, AP story:
Remember the "shovel-ready" projects lined up for all that stimulus money? It turns out social spending, more than construction, is hitting pay dirt in the huge federal effort to turn the economy around.
Most of the roughly $300 billion coming directly to the states is being funneled through existing government programs for health care, education, unemployment benefits, food stamps and other social services.
And how was the money supposed to benefit the states?:
John Husing, a Southern California economist, said keeping teachers and police officers employed should help prevent the recession from getting worse. But he said the stimulus package would have improved communities' ability to grow over the long haul if it had dedicated more money to public works.
While billions of dollars eventually will flow to infrastructure projects, Democrats who crafted the package say they directed most of it to existing government programs such as Medicaid and education to prevent state economies from slipping even more. One goal was to help fill state budget gaps, keeping teachers and others employed while strengthening the social safety net.
$300 billion here, $50 billion there. Pacify the feminists, pacify the unions.
The original "stimulus" bill was all about keeping state and local government spending, and the salaries it supports, sky-high. It doesn't appear that President Obama has a game plan to help the economy, other than continuing to feed the already-bloated public sector. This is consistent with his apparently complete ignorance of basic principles of economics. Democrats in Congress, however, can see the writing on the wall. It will be interesting to see whether they are willing to brave voter wrath by stimulating the public sector still further.
Bottom line from Ed Morrissey:
This is a $50 billion bailout to Big Labor — the SEIU, AFSCME, and the NEA.