Tuesday, February 10, 2009

So, where's the pork?

Talk radio and political pundits continue to fill the airwaves with talk about all of the "pork" in the President's economic stimulus package that he is urging Congress to enact.

I'll be the first to fess-up: I haven't read the 600+ page document. [Note: I'm trying to get a copy for further review.]

What I have seen relates to Dallas, Texas and it comes from a listing of "shovel-ready"projects that the City of Dallas has requested be included in the funding measure. The total tab on these projects: $1,235,145,000.00.

So, how would our fair city spend over $1.2 billion?

Mainly on infrastructure improvement. You know roads, bridges, public safety, water and drainage, sanitation and transportation matters, including airport improvements.

There are also provisions for energy conservation, creation of "green" jobs, and additional police officers (20).

Closer to my world, there is funding to cover demolition of two public housing developments, Turner Courts (where we've been working since 2000) and Rhodes Terrace, just up the street from Turner. Big, big neighborhood improvement here.

Then I found funding to build 55 additional dwellings at Roseland Homes, another public housing development where we have worked since 1996. Again, major improvement for the community.

I suppose one of the largest and most controversial projects involves $386,000,000 for a new convention center hotel, a major community endeavor being pushed forward by our Mayor, Tom Leppert.

Of course, this list is not just about money. It is about jobs and jobs in the short term. If my math is correct, we are talking about the creation of almost 12,000 new jobs that pay a livable wage.

For the life of me, I can't find any pork, not even an "oink," at least not in the portion of the bill that has to do with Dallas, Texas.

Yesterday, I had the privilege of meeting with one of the chief assistants to a member of the U. S. House of Representatives. He informed us that President Obama had called a meeting of Democratic leaders last week to chastise them for including items in the legislation that did not relate directly to stimulating the economy. According to this source, the meeting was very direct and challenging. That sounds like good news to me.

The situation we face today cannot be about politics. Far too much is at stake. It is time for a renewal of community spirit in this city and nation.

.

37 comments:

Anonymous said...

I have a couple of questions. First what is you reaction to the reports coming from the CBO? And second, I would love your response to the AP article http://apnews.myway.com/article/20090209/D968BMTO0.html
One other minor thing. You have a typo in your seventh paragraph. I am only pointing this out because you are an exceptional writer and this is the first one I have ever noticed from your pen.

rcorum

Anonymous said...

Unfortunately, for some, renewal of community in the city is a very political issue -- one filled with hatred and segregation.

Larry James said...

rcorum, thanks for the correction! I need all the help I can get! I'll read the essay. What aspect of the reports from the CBO?

Anonymous said...

The problem as I understand it is not that there is "pork" in the bill; rather, it is filled with pet projects that will not stimuluate jobs in the short term and in some cases ever. I could go thorugh a list of nonsense that Congress wants to spend money on that has nothing to do with stimulas and more to do with "payoffs" to others - like money to ACORN for example - but i don't feel like reading all of the hateful comments that will fly back at me from people who have no abilty to see the other side. Suffice it to day, that ther are good things and some very bad things in the bill... just as I expect from an incompetent Congress and 2 parties that can never work together to get anything done. Pelosi, Frank, Reid and Dodd should be the psoter children for term limits.

Anonymous said...

Well, lets start with what was initially in the Democrats' bill that has had to be cut or trimmed ... full of non-stimulation for certain. Some would call this "pork" and others would call it stupid spending.


http://www.cnn.com/2009/POLITICS/02/07/stimulus.cuts/index.html

Larry James said...

rcorum, I read the article. Sometimes the outcome of an argument is determined by how you set up the questions. If any aspect of the bill "benefits" any specific interest the writer of the article you refer to would see that as "pork" or inappropriate. That is a silly viewpoint. Every action that creates job will benefit some particular interest whether contracting company, materials provider or community. A bridge in Elkhart, IN will benefit lots of special interests. How else does one create jobs? As to the notion that some things in the bill don't create jobs or don't do so quickly enough, those parts are fair game for conversation. In this case one of the biggest violators appears to be the military. The Coast Guard will likely have to wirhdraw its plans for an icebreaker! BTW--I am reading the entire bill. So far, what I've said here is substantiated by what I've read. If I find otherwise, I'll report that here.

Larry James said...

Anon 9:12, and my friend from the Congressional office said the President got clear about those things to see that they didn't stay in the bill.

Chris said...

Be careful, Larry. You're fast approaching senior citizen status. I understand there are provisions that were inserted without debate that would allow the government to approve or disapprove what treatment a doctor is considering. It could affect the elderly as they could calculate that someone wouldn't live long enough to make it cost effective.

Larry James said...

I am reading the bill, Chris. Can you direct me to the section where it says that?

Chris said...

In the pdf version check pages 442,446,445,454,479 or check Betsy McCaughy of Bloomberg News. Senator Specter said this morning that he would "review" this. Hey Senator, don't you think it would be well to review it before you vote?

Anonymous said...

Chris:

That could only be when the govt is paying. I'll bet most people who don't presently have insurance would take half a loaf over no loaf and accept limited medical care over no medical care.

Chris said...

Anon. 11:56

Tom Daschel wrote a book last year,
"Critical: What We Can Do About the Health Care Crisis."

The proposals in the stimulus plan are almost identical. In the book Daschle advocates a Federal Employee Health Benefits Program. (FEHBP) which would cover everyone. Doctors would have to give up antomony and "learn to operate less like solo practitioners." The government would be paying everything after taking it from the people who pay taxes. You would have no say in the treatment.

Larry James said...

Chris, really not different than managed care today, is it? Your insurance company is making similar decisions. As to the pdf version, I don't know what you mean. The bill as delivered to the Senate has about 175 pages. Give me an online address so I can look at what you are talking about.

Chris said...

Try this, google:

"Ruin your life with the Obama stimulus plan"

written by Betsy McCaughey-sorry I mispelled her name before.

Chris said...

Actually, thats "ruin your health...

BTW--the stock market isn't too happy.

Anonymous said...

Chris:

And your point? Even the most dedicated capitalists admit the stock market is by no means always rational.

Anonymous said...

even after the senate trimmed the bill, there is still substantial nonstimulating "pork", "fat", "pet projects", "paybacks" or however else you want to characterize it. Why not stick to the reason for the bill in the first place - to stimulate the economy. How does money to ACORN stimulate the economy? It won't. How does an ice breaker for the coast guard stimulate the economy? It won't. Infrastructure jobs will stimulate the economy... I get that and agree. There are alot of Special interest groups that the Dems are trying to benefit that will not in any way stimulate the economy now, which is the crucial time, or ever. You see, nothing has really changed. The only difference is now the Democrats are running wild with our money instead of the republicans. They are all hypocrits, but now that the Dems are on a spending free for all, no one wants to call them out. I personally have no issue with money going to the projects that Larry has identified as meaningful and important; but lets face facts, when you ask, "where's the Pork", did you really mean that or are you trying to stimulate discussion here? Because the bill as it stands now is full of spending that does not stimulate anything but votes down the road. If this was a Republican bill, my hunch is the opinions expressed on this blog would be quite different. James.

rcorum said...

Larry, you are a good man for reading the bill. I do think that the strong negative reaction of the markets is a sign that something "ain't" right. I think many, many people and scared to death that we are marching down some form of European socialism, and right now I don't think President Obama is doing very much to calm those fears. Great post to bring about healthy dialogue.

Anonymous said...

corum - markets reacted negatively to the President saying "no" to Treasury Secretary Geitner's proposal for bank bailouts.

---

and I never saw Chris' response to Larry on those page numbers...

Chris said...

Why would Obama "calm the fears" of European socialism? He can't wait for it to happen.

P and C said...

This is from liberal columnist Camille Paglia:

"Most mainstream American voters are undoubtedly suffering from economist fatigue these days. This one calls for tax cuts; that one condemns them. One says we're wasting hundreds of billions of dollars; the other claims that sum falls pathetically short. A plague on all their houses! Surely common sense would dictate that when Congress is doling out fat dollops of taxpayers' money, due time should be delegated for sober consideration and debate. The administration's coercive rush toward instant action, accompanied by apocalyptic pronouncements of imminent catastrophe, has put its own credibility on the line."

It's interesting to me that Obama once condemned the politics of fear. Now he has embraced that which he condemned. Hypocrite.

Rita @ P&C

Anonymous said...

There is $300,000,000 in the "Stimulus" for "Green Golf Carts."

Anonymous said...

Please provide the page number in the bill for the golf care claim.

Anonymous said...

Here's a link to the story:

http://tinyurl.com/ahnr9u

$300,000,000 for golf carts, but I will probably lose my child tax credit next year thanks to President B.O. doing away with the Bush Tax cuts.

Good times. Good times.

belinda said...

I look forward to the U.S. having "European socialism!" Everyone with health care! Sounds like a great idea to me. We've been conditioned to fear socialism -- it seems to be working for the rest of the world.

Anonymous said...

Belinda - Really? Has to be one of the most uninformed statements I have ever heard. It is not and never has worked for the rest of the world. talk to some of my Canadian friends and you will quickly see that your comment is simply WRONG and uninformed. Or maybe severly colored by your Hope and Change Kool Aid. James.

Politics and Culture said...

$13 a week??? Wow, that's some stimulus.

What was Obama's campaign slogan again?

"Chump Change We Can Believe In"

Yes We Can!

Anonymous said...

There are some serious Kool Aid drinkers if anyone believes for a second this "Welfare" aka "Stimulus" plan does anything for our economy! It is ludicrous...nay...repugnant that anyone with cognative ability to tie his/her shoes in the morning would vote for or support such a voracious waste of tax payer dollars! Morally reprehensible and irrepsonsible to say the very least!!!
Don't buy their excuse that they shaved more than one hundred billion dollars in spending from the Senate version. By the time the Senate/House conference reconciles the differences between the versions of the legislation passed by the two houses, most of that spending will be back in the law anyway.
And Americans blithely go along with it all, either supporting it, or ignoring it, or convincing themselves it's all just a series of isolated mistakes or errors in judgment rather than accurate reflections of the mutated, abusive, perverted government into which Roosevelt's welfare state has metastasized.

Today, when Americans say, "Freedom is under attack," they mean the "freedom" of FDR's "superpower" welfare-state empire to do whatever it wants to whomever it desires anywhere in the world. It is not the type of freedom to which our Founders and ancestors subscribed. And Americans blithely go along with it all, either supporting it, or ignoring it, or convincing themselves it's all just a series of isolated mistakes or errors in judgment rather than accurate reflections of the mutated, abusive, perverted government into which Roosevelt's welfare state has metastasized.

Today, when Americans say, "Freedom is under attack," they mean the "freedom" of FDR's "superpower" welfare-state empire to do whatever it wants to whomever it desires anywhere in the world. It is not the type of freedom to which our Founders and ancestors subscribed. Just as with FDR's New Deal this so called Stimulus plan is nothing more than reckless spending. For it is a well documented and highly reveled by economists as an historical fact that FDR's New Deal prolonged the effects of the economic downturn known as the "Great Depression" by as much as 7 years! It is also a historical fact that cutting taxes stimulates the economy...why is it people in this country are so ignorant regarding US History? Another fact that is of course not known by the majority of Americans is the simple fact that the sub prime mortgage mess we are in presently does have some ties to GW Bush...but of course the biggest burden regarding the current economic woes is thanks to the Democratic Congress that took power in 2006 with the likes of morons like Barney Frank and Chris Dodd and don't forget the princess...Nancy Pelosi. Of course the facts you will never hear in the main stream media due to their slobbering love affair with the Obama campaign and hence administration...easier to cover up the truth than to spread it out to the American public to make up their own minds...but instead we have left wing supporting robots in this country to ignorant to research and find the truth but rather listen to whatever propaganda the liberal mainstream media in print, radio and TV promulgate to the masses like a cow regurgitating... Signed We The People

Anonymous said...

We the People at 312pm - Get ready. you are about to be attacked as a right wing nut that is regurgitating Rush or some other radio personality because you can't possibly be an independent thinking individual with such nutty opinions... so they will say. For me, I agree with your points 100%. Have you ever seen one party of Congress meet secretly and shut out the other side to discuss the so called stimulas bill that is touted as bipartisan? you have twice in 2 days and no one should be surprised that Pelozi, Frank, Reid and Dodd were behind it? They are so out of touch with the People who they are supposed to represent that they have no clue that the majority of people they supposedly represent have serious issues with the Bill. As Messiah said at the Democratic retreat, " we need to spend, spend, spend."
Socialized healthcare is on the way if the NeoMarxist have their way... and they will because HOPE AND CHANGE is NOT FOR REAL.

Anonymous said...

Here PORKY PORKY:

224 million - Inernational Boundry and Water Commission
750 mil. - National Computer Center
500 mil - NIH Facilities
412 mil - CDC headquarters
75 mil - Smithsonian Institution
198 mil - design and furnish DHS headquarters
300 mil - electronic and hybrid cars for federal employees
1.5 billion - carbon capture projects
1.3 billion - NASA ( including 450 mil for "sciences" at NASA)
10 mil - Fight Mexican gun program
650 mil - DTV transition coupon program
200 mil - public computer centers at community colleges and libraries
65 mil - watershed rehabilitation
275 mil - flood prevention
200 mil - workplace safety in USDA facilites

I could go on but you get the point. and these are the things that survived the cuts! can anyone tell me with a straight face how these will stimlulate the economy?

Anonymous said...

Anon 7:39 and others of the libertarian ilk, behind everyone of the items you list are jobs both in the ongoing operations of these sites, programs and jobs in the manufacturing and capital improvement sides. Why didn't you list the billions being spent on the U.S. Military by each of the service branches? How about the expansion of the broadband capacity of the nation, esp in rural areas? How about the bridges and road? How about border control--a couple of programs there do make your list.

Here's the deal: those programs you list do represent jobs saved and created and lots of them. Beyond that, we are having to pay the price due to the absolute failure of the last 8 years of Presidential "leadership." Larry, how do you take this every day???
JB Simms

Anonymous said...

JB Simms - I don't understand your comment to Larry. What, are you the only smart person that can have an opinion. Are the rest of us who don't agree with you just so stupid that Larry should just cut our opinion off because you don't agree with them. You are a typical Liberal Democrat that does not and can not handle opinions that differ from your left wing leaning ideals. DO you really believe the Republican alone are the reason for the mess we are in? if you do, you are very uninformed or in denial. Larry, I don't know how you put up with people like JB sometimes.... oh, i actaully do. he is on the same page as most of the people who get on this blog.

Military spending has kept your little liberal but safe. But you will get your wish when Messiah starts his talking tour with the likes of Iraq and South Korea and they quitly laugh behind his back and bomb us again. James.

Larry James said...

Emotions run high here from time to time, huh? My blog is open to all so long as everyone tries to "play nice."

BTW--my good friend, Daniel Gray put this up on another post of mine over the last day or two. I wanted to make sure that it was here as well. . .so, here it is:

In response to PORK questions...

First of all, no money is being directly handed over ACORN. The funding that some of the right-wing shock jocks are touting is in reference to neighborhood stabilization funding... which is available to both government entities and nonprofits to assist with neighborhood level projects. ACORN, as a nonprofit, would be eligible to apply for this funding, but nothing in the bill says anything about allocating money specifically to ACORN.

Second, the term golfcarts brings a loaded meaning. No one is using these to go golfing. They are small, zero-carbon emission vehicles used on many large campuses to get around to places when using a vehicle or walking would be incredibly time-consuming and inefficient.

Debate the merits of their inclusion in a stimulus bill, but don't get all your news from mainstream media or you'll be inheriting the partisan rhetoric of whoever you're listening to.

The text of the joint committee's version which was adopted can be found here:
http://appropriations.house.gov/

Politics and Culture said...

Economists say the "Stimulus" won't work:

http://www.mcclatchydc.com/227/story/62082.html

Did you know there's money in there for NASA to study climate change? Yep, that's going to help the economy get rolling again!

This is nothing but a pricey government expansion bill with a few token tax credits ($13 a week? Give me a break!)

And even that will all be erased for a lot of families when B.O. does away with the Bush tax cuts, including the child tax credit.

People, it is Jimmy Carter all over again.....

Daniel Gray said...

P/C

Obama's tax cut is larger than either of Bush's tax cuts.

I agree that some of the spending is debatable as to how much it will actually stimulate the economy. Tax cuts aside, what would YOU suggest spending stimulus on to effectively jumpstart the economy?

Anonymous said...

Let me get this straight - the government is basically doing some self-stimulation.

Isn't that called masturbation?

A pleasurable, but fruitless activity.grapio

Larry James said...

Anon 2:32, you come to the boundary of my tolerance, actually, you cross over it. But, I leave your very uncouth and inappropriate comment up so that we can see what's out there. By the way, jobs are jobs. Your metaphor is not only ill-mannered, it simply doesn't apply. BTW--private companies serve many of those gov't contracts for equipment, construction and services. I lead one such company and I can assure you that you can inspect the fruit of our work.