Diary

Barry's boondoggle

Boondoggle: a wasteful or impractical project or activity often involving graftMerriam Webster Online Dictionary

Back from his two-week Hawaiian vacation, President-elect Obama’s plans to bail out the economy don’t match his rhetoric.

The words sound good:

We need an American Recovery and Reinvestment Plan that not only creates jobs in the short-term but spurs economic growth and competitiveness in the long-term,” he says. “And this plan must be designed in a new way—we can’t just fall into the old Washington habit of throwing money at the problem. We must make strategic investments that will serve as a down payment on our long-term economic future. We must demand vigorous oversight and strict accountability for achieving results. And we must restore fiscal responsibility and make the tough choices so that as the economy recovers, the deficit starts to come down. That is how we will achieve the number one goal of my plan—which is to create three million new jobs, more than eighty percent of them in the private sector.

Nevertheless, Obama’s plans don’t match his rhetoric.

Obama’s desire to sign a stimulus bailout for the whole economy as his first act on the day he takes office all but guarantees there will not be the “vigorous oversight and strict accountability” he says “we must demand.”

We should have learned this lesson with the failed big bailout of the financial institutions. Just as Obama and the Democrats Congressional leadership are trying to do now, back in October Congress was pressured into acting too quickly on the big bailout for the financial sector because the situation was “urgent.”

Like Obama said, “we can’t fall into the old Washington habit of throwing money at the problem.” A nearly $1 trillion bailout bill for the economy written in less than three weeks will be doing just that.

Republican Congressional leaders want to make sure we don’t fall into the trap Obama warned about — “the old Washington habit of throwing money at the problem”:

Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the top Republican in the Senate, said in a statement yesterday that he agrees with Obama that jump-starting the economy “is job one.” But he insisted that “every dollar needs to be spent wisely and not wasted in the rush to get it spent.”

Citing Obama’s promise to eliminate waste by scrutinizing the federal budget “line by line,” McConnell said Republicans want to do the same thing to the stimulus bill, “page by page, line by line – eliminating those programs we don’t need, and insisting that those we do operate in a sensible cost-effective way.”

McConnell’s House counterpart, Representative John Boehner of Ohio, said it is “essential that this legislation be debated in a fair, open, and honest way.” Congress, he said in a statement, should have public hearings, post any bill online, and must eliminate “special-interest earmarks.”

Obama and the Democrats have different plans:

But Representative Chris Van Hollen of Maryland – a Pelosi ally who has close contact with the Obama transition team – said the House leadership wants to get a stimulus bill to Obama’s desk by Inauguration Day. “That may not be possible, but this is an urgent situation,” he told Bloomberg News yesterday.

Then there is Obama’s mediocre goal of creating three million new jobs over two years. Obama first proposed “2.5 million more jobs by January of 2011.” A moth later, he upped the goal to “3 million jobs in the next two years.”

Now, Obama tells us “more than eighty percent of the three million jobs will be in the private sector.” That is disappointing for two reasons. First, we don’t need another 600,000 government jobs. Second, and just as important, that means his goal is only 1.2 million private sector jobs per year. That is no where near the 2.1 million jobs per year that the U.S. economy usually produces.

Regardless of how many jobs Obama intends to create, without adequate review and deliberation, his whole economy bailout will amount to nothing more than the old Washington habit of throwing money at the problem — even more good money after bad.