Fiscal Urgency: The First Symptom of Budgetary Incontinence


It's not quite true that Democrats are using the $819 billion (and counting) "economic recovery plan" as a cover for domestic spending they've always wanted. Cover implies they're acting surreptitiously, and the big spenders are pretty blatant in their opportunism. Here's an excerpt from yesterday's New York Times story about the $127 billion for health care (which was paired with a story about the $150 billion "flood of aid to education"):

The stimulus bill working its way through Congress is not just a package of spending increases and tax cuts intended to jolt the nation out of recession. For Democrats, it is also a tool for rewriting the social contract with the poor, the uninsured and the unemployed, in ways they have long yearned to do….

Democrats said the current economic crisis did not allow time for public hearings on the legislation.

"This is as urgent as it gets," said Representative Anna G. Eshoo, Democrat of California.

After the House Ways and Means Committee approved its piece of the economic recovery legislation last Thursday, Representative Pete Stark, Democrat of California, said, "We accomplished more today than in the last eight years."

Clearly, the Democrats have not been trying to stimulate the economy out of a recession for eight years. But all their budget priorities (any budget priorities, really) are suddenly so urgent that there's no time to pause for reflection on whether they make any more sense now than they did before. As President Obama put it yesterday, right before the House approved the bill on a party-line vote, "We don't have a moment to spare." Not even to consider whether we have $819 billion to spare.