Economics

Now That We've Established What the Senate Is, They're Just Haggling Over the Price

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If you've seen me, please call my constituents. Love, Mike Enzi

There was a "test" vote on the stimulus yesterday in the Senate, with depressing results: It passed with 61 votes, setting the stage for today's real vote that will move the legislation into the conference stage, during which relatively minor differences between the House and Senate versions are hashed out. From there, it's on to President Obama's desk. "There is no reason we can't do this by the end of the week," says Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.).

Some details from an AP report of yesterday's vote:

The vote was 61-36, one more than the 60 needed to move the measure toward Senate passage today. That in turn, will set the stage for possibly contentious negotiations with the House on a final compromise on legislation the president says is desperately needed to tackle the worst economic crisis in more than a generation.

Monday's vote was close but scarcely in doubt after the White House and Democratic leaders agreed to trim about $100 billion Friday….

The two remaining versions of the legislation are relatively close in size—$838 billion in the Senate and $819 billion in the House, and are similar in many respects….

Both houses would provide tax breaks for home buyers, but the Senate is far more generous. The Senate bill also gives a tax break to purchasers of new cars….

The Senate proposed $450 million for NASA for exploration, for example, $50 million less than the House. It also eliminated the House's call for money to combat a potential flu pandemic….

Back in the day, legislators used to beat each other on the Senate floor over issues such as slavery. I look forward to Arlen Specter and Henry Waxman caning each other over funding for NASA's mission to Uranus (tickets still available).

What can you say about deliberations in which Sen. Lamar "Lamar!" Alexander (R-Tenn.) is one of the good guys? "This is a spending bill, not a stimulus bill," noted the flannel-clad English-only advocate. Or where Mike Enzi (look him up) emerged from his witness-protection-program-like obscurity to issue a "jerk-store" style zinger: This is a "spending bill that spends everything we've got on nothing we are sure about."

Given the current makeup of the Senate, even Jar Jar Binks would look like Cicero. But thank Jove for some dissenting voices in today's money-guzzling madness.

More here.

Today's real Senate vote should be hitting the TV around noon ET. Prepare for plagues of grasshoppers, flaming toads, and rivers of blood. Or maybe those are just the drinks we should all be preparing in very large doses to take the edge off this afternoon—and the next decade or so.

Update: The Senate bill has passeth! Go here to continue the conversation.

NEXT: Now at Reason.tv: Are You the Change You've Been Waiting For? (And If So, Aren't You At Least a Little Disappointed?)

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  1. I’d rather NASA get more money than the other shit. At least when NASA does something it’s inspirational.

    Oh well, back to my guitars…

  2. When they (NASA) do something GOOD is what I should have written.

    Plus, the closer we are to going to Mars, the closer we are to being able to leave this fucking mudball overrun by psychotic apes. I want a moon of Jupiter to call my own.

  3. Why is “Front Sight Firearms” the ad next to this entry on the main blog page….?

  4. Why is “Front Sight Firearms” the ad next to this entry on the main blog page….?

    Hyperinflation makes guns a good investment.

  5. guns and gold, eh?

  6. “with depressing results”

    Yeah, it is depressing. This is what happens when bankers become nothing more than used car salesmen.

  7. PS – Bankers have become lower than lawyers.

  8. just freaking love the “ready fire aim”.

    as much as the hysterical “hyperinflation” comments.

    Actually – ready fire aim is first. and second. then the Paul Ehrlich “economists” come next.

    kicks pebble. trods off

  9. Damn you Gillespie! Now we all have to hear Pro Lib froth at the mouth about your Jar Jar reference over how much he hates the Star Wars prequels! I’m gonna go ahead and throw in this link to try to head him off before he rants on about ewoks.

  10. “My bottom line is to make sure that we are saving or creating 4 million jobs, we are making sure that the financial system is working again, that homeowners are getting some relief,” said President Obama.

    A difference of 4 million jobs can still be considered a success according to this statement.

  11. We are doomed.

    When the best the man proclaimed to be the Smartest Man Ever to Hold the Presidency can offer in support of his plan is “My predecessor created the deficit so I am entitled to quadruple it,” we are truly doomed.

  12. LOL, that is what politicians do best, haggle.

    RT
    http://www.web-privacy.pro.tc

  13. “Back in the day, legislators used to beat each other on the Senate floor over issues such as slavery. I look forward to Arlen Specter and Henry Waxman caning each other NASA’s mission to Uranus.”

    Ultimate Fighting Congress (UFC)

    I would welcome a brawl on the floor of the Senate over an issue, even if the issue was the color of the toilet paper. At least I would know they are concerned with more than themselves, holding their seat, and screwing me.

  14. Naga,

    What prequels? I’m not aware of any prequels.

  15. Indeed Pro Lib. Indeed. I see that the link worked and calmed your rage thereby lulling you into a blissful coma of ignorance of any prequels. Your welcome. No charge, sir.

  16. I think I could come up with a better story arc for the fall of Anakin Skywalker right here. If I had time, I’d prove it. Maybe an Urkobold posting one of these days?

  17. I read something about Obama getting all pissed about “political games.” This from the guy who belittled tax cuts as being only “for the rich” and as having no bearing on an economic stimulus. Wrong and wrong, and he likely knows it. Who is playing games?

    Why citizens and corporations spending their money is supposedly inferior to government spending it is beyond me.

  18. Pro Lib,

    If it involves him falling in lava . . . I’m in.

  19. Pro Lib,

    Because it’s for teh Childrenz?

  20. PL,

    I was wondering if you saw this Io9 post.

    Welcome To Planet Rome: 12 Extraterrestrial Roman Empires

    Thought you might like it.

  21. “My bottom line is to make sure that we are saving or creating 4 million jobs, we are making sure that the financial system is working again, that homeowners are getting some relief,” said President Obama.

    Just once, just once I would like to hear somebody, anybody in the media call the prez on the BS claim that government can “create” jobs or anything else by shifting money out of the private sector to government.

  22. SugarFree,

    You just reminded me to thank you. I went ahead and bought Rome the miniseries. Teh AWESome. Best of all I got it at Circuit City during their going out of business sale for 50% off! Though I feel for the clerk. I was a dick and asked if they were prepared to offer a lower price. Sadly, Best Buy would not match the price.

  23. Naga,

    That’s great, I’m glad you like them. Did you get season 2 as well?

    I swooped in and bought most of the BSG DVDs from a dying Circuit City. And a bunch of PS3 games. Now I just need to buy a PS3…

  24. SugarFree,

    You mean this?

    I liked Rome, too. It took some serious liberties with history but was still entertaining.

  25. I got both seasons on the same day for about $90. I felt like a sucker and went over to Best Buy. Like I said they wouldn’t match the offer.

  26. Pro Lib,

    It had incredible religious detail. I thought the “serious liberties with history” were tolerable. Cleopatra . . . whore. Caesar . . . man whore. Antony . . . man whore. Octavian . . . cold blooded bastard. Everything in balance.

  27. PL, Yes. WTF? I even checked the damn link and it still went screwy. May all the goods of hell rain down wrath forever on the creators of HMTL.

  28. SugarFree,

    You would know this for your cultural prowess is mighty. Is Jericho coming back on the air? All I’ve found is rumours.

  29. Is Jericho coming back on the air?

    I seriously doubt it.

  30. gods of hell. fuck. shit. cunt. damn. fuck.

    Anyway, Rome left out my favorite salacious detail… the Senators were more than happy to fuck over Julius Caesar before he invaded Italy mostly because he had seduced almost all their wives.

  31. I liked ROME, but the “liberties with history” bothered me more and more as the series wore on. Octavian was a great character, Augustus not so much.

  32. Jericho will not be coming back to TV, but there are rumors of a Firefly type movie to wrap the series up.

    If the link fucks up, my rage will sterilize angels.

  33. I’ve long maintained that, come the apocalypse, gold will do me no good because I can’t eat it or wipe my ass with it.
    Today I came up with the perfect solution! I need to lay in a shitload of fruit roll-ups!

  34. the Senators were more than happy to fuck over Julius Caesar before he invaded Italy mostly because he had seduced almost all their wives

    Hey, everyone wants to fuck the Pontifex Maximus.

  35. Warren,

    Bah! (waves hand dismissively in air) TV show sucka fool. Bear with it. I was laughing my ass off when Pullo asked about his son at the end.

  36. Hey, everyone wants to fuck the Pontifex Maximus.

    I’m as straight at the day is long, but I will admit that hat gives me a funny tickle.

  37. SugarFree,

    I feel like I was kicked in the balls after that link.

  38. I’m not going to kiss your “boo-boo,” so please don’t ask again.

  39. SugarFree,

    But here was your chance to try . . . “Change!”.

  40. Say whatever you’d like about Rush Limbaugh, but the man has been the most principled, intelligent voice against this “stimulus” farce since it first surfaced.

  41. Jamie Kelly,

    Trouble with Limbaugh is that he has no credibility anymore.

  42. So far, the Obama administration and the Dems in power:

    — have lied at least four times
    — are enacting the biggest expansion of government control over the economy in 80 years
    — are seriously considering reviving the “Fairness Doctrine,” and openly destroying the First Amendment

    The man’s a fucking nightmare.
    Yay, he’s black.
    But the man’s a fucking fucking fucking nightmare.

  43. Rome definitely takes more of the Roman view of Cleopatra, IMHO.

    As many have noted they could have done a lot more with the Optimates and Cato in particular.

  44. Episiarch,

    Inanity Alert!

    Augustus wasn’t the Pontifex Maximus until 13 B.C.; he waited for Lepidus to die before taking on that office. Lepidus was I believe the last person other than the Princeps (obviously who was and who was not the Princeps was often a contested affair) to hold that office down to the time of Gratian.

  45. Seward,

    I found the inconsistencies tolerable. It’s television after all. Though I contend they could have had a lot more 300 style battles in the spirit of inconsistencies.

  46. Seward,

    I thought Lepidus was murdered. It has been a while since my last reading of the classics.

  47. Naga Shadow,

    He died in his sleep as far as I know. Why Augustus didn’t have him killed outright I cannot say.

  48. In our 21st century version we have a corrupt senate and a world class douche bag as well…we just don’t append -us to everyones’ name…Barrackus Obamus? Harrius Reidus?

  49. Naga Shadow,

    Well, they could have portrayed Cato as a more vibrant character than they did. He was an incredible a historical figure as Augustus or Julius or Cleopatra.

  50. Clementia. Julius Caesar and Augustus were both known for that. . .after they’d won their respective civil wars, that is.

    You fool! You raving Oriental idiot! There is a time and a place for everything, Cato! And this is it!

  51. Augustus wasn’t the Pontifex Maximus until 13 B.C.

    I wasn’t talking about Augustus; I was talking about Julius Caesar, who was Pontifex Maximus but had to resign because of the scandal of his wife’s fucking around, if I recall correctly.

  52. Dude, she was innocent. But, since she was Caesar’s wife, she had to be above suspicion. And he wanted to find a better political match, anyway.

    Also, he was Pontifex Maximus from 63 BC until his death.

  53. Douchious Baggus?

  54. Biggus Dickus.

  55. I’ve had enough of this wowdy webel sniggewing behavior. Silence! Call yourselves Pwaetowian guards?

  56. I have a vewy gweat fwiend in Wome named “Biggus Dickus”!

  57. [Laughs uncontrollably.]

  58. Trouble with Limbaugh is that he has no credibility anymore.

    Yeah, when you support government spending just because it has a GOP sticker affixed, I have a tough time buying your “heart-felt” opposition.

    Free market ideas have no credibility anymore. When Bush was spending like a drunken centurion yet claiming to be for economic liberty, the idiots in this country made Bush the symbol of free markets.

    When he went down, our cred went down, and we barely got anything for it.

    Fuck, I wish I was living in a different time then now. It’s so saddening to see this country turning into what it is, and even more saddening to realize I was born too late to do anything about it…

  59. Taktix, but on the plus side its never been easier to learn a foreign language and stay connected to friends and family from across the globe!

  60. Well, aside from staying connected with friends and family, and learning a foreign language…

    …what have the Americans ever DONE FOR US?

  61. When Bush was spending like a drunken centurion yet claiming to be for economic liberty, the idiots in this country made Bush the symbol of free markets…When he went down, our cred went down, and we barely got anything for it.

    Bush spent all that money and won twice. McCain opposed and voted against Bush’s spending (the prescription drug benefit, the farm bills, including the Republican-majority first one, the energy bills, etc.) and he lost. And being against that spending certainly wasn’t enough to win Sen. McCain endorsements from any reason contributors. No, what libertarians and Reasonoids said was that “temperament” and “intelligence” and being like you personally or philosophically coherent was more important than taking substantive positions. Or else it was libertarians who wanted to vote against McCain to punish Republicans for spending that McCain voted against.

    Libertarians talk a nice game about cutting farm subsidies, free trade, spending, etc. But almost no one actually decides his vote on those issues– well, unless you decide your vote because you want more farm subsidies or protectionism or spending on your pet project. Otherwise, there’s always something more important, whether a concrete issue (like war) or something more nebulous, like “temperament” or “change.”

    I think politicians will take note of that even more than the supposed discrediting of Bush. They’ll note that voting against all the things that supposedly made Bush lose didn’t win McCain votes. They’ll notice that Obama didn’t win by criticizing spending, nor is he planning to do it now. They’ll note that even if polls show the public wants more tax cuts and less spending in the stimulus, polls also show that the public approves of “how Obama is handling the stimlus,” 67%-25%, whereas it slightly approves of “how Democrats are handling” it, and strongly disapproves of “how Republicans are handling” it, 31%-58%. They’ll realize that policy doesn’t matter, it’s whether people like you personally, and so the only important thing is to be the cool guy, the popular choice, the One beloved by the media and the good guy fighting for us, etc. The focus of the cult.

  62. Well spoken Comrade Taktix. Witness the glories of socialism in the PRC and Russia. What other societies have muirdered so many people in the name of collective planning and distributed the misery across the entire population in such a brutal abet even fashion rather than create wealth.

    Perhaps you can tell us what Wacky Barracky is going to do to help the economy besides lining the pockets of his family and cronies.

    You make Murtha sound sane.

  63. “Yeah, when you support government spending just because it has a GOP sticker affixed, I have a tough time buying your “heart-felt” opposition.”

    What are you talking about?

    Limbaugh wasn’t a Bush lapdog. He opposed quite a few things that the Bush administration did, like the prescription drug program, Bush’s proposed immigration “reform” bill, etc.

  64. Is the recession why we can’t even get any good trolls any longer?

  65. We’re going to continue our partisany bickering and arguing while the government decides to out Japan the Japanese and go for a two-decade recession. Or worse.

    What’s great about this attempt to ruin the American economy is that both parties are complicit. So there’s nowhere to turn, unless one of the crazy third parties starts seeming less crazy to the public at large.

  66. Or else it was libertarians who wanted to vote against McCain to punish Republicans for spending that McCain voted against.

    Or maybe it was the McCain-Feingold Act.

    Yeah, really irrational to oppose McCain…

  67. Yes we can, go bankrupt.

  68. Is curious george accusing Taktix of being a communist? Either I missed something or George did…

  69. He’s basically just been running onto threads, farting, and leaving all day.

  70. I don’t know why Obama doesn’t use the line “I’ll not be lectured on why it is bad for our government to spend money rebuilding roads and investing in schools here in the U.S. from a party which championed the pouring of billions of taxpayer dollars into rebuilding roads and investing in schools in Iraq for the past years.”

    It’d be gold.

  71. Well spoken Comrade Taktix. Witness the glories of socialism in the PRC and Russia. What other societies have muirdered so many people in the name of collective planning and distributed the misery across the entire population in such a brutal abet even fashion rather than create wealth.

    Uhh, it was a reference to the running Life-Of-Brian gag.

    But, yeah, you’re right, I’m such a commie…

  72. No, what libertarians and Reasonoids said was that “temperament” and “intelligence” and being like you personally or philosophically coherent was more important than taking substantive positions. Or else it was libertarians who wanted to vote against McCain to punish Republicans for spending that McCain voted against.

    Damn, you kicked the shit out of that straw man!

  73. Thacker,

    McCain supported TARP. Game over, nough said.

  74. There is no doubt in my mind that McCain would’ve played ball on the “stimulus.” He might’ve insisted on more tax cuts and less Democratic wish list items, but only the veneer would’ve changed. Not the substance.

  75. Taktix and MNG-

    Just like Meh accusing me of being a neo-nazi.

  76. >Yes we can, go bankrupt.

    That really needs to become a bumper sticker.

  77. Damn, you kicked the shit out of that straw man!

    Straw man? Odd, so strawmen all are Reason contributors Peter Bagge, Ronald Bailey (“Obama. The Republicans must be punished and punished hard.”), Bruce Bartlett (“I plan to vote for Obama mainly because he is not a Republican and not John McCain, who is temperamentally unfit to be president.”), David Brin (“For not a single “liberal” reason, I am voting not only for Obama, but for the GOP to be utterly spanked and sent into exile, where, perhaps, sincere men and women may remember Barry Goldwater and resurrect some kind of healthy, libertarian Conservatism.”), Tim Cavanaugh (“Barack Obama. All my life I’ve been waiting for a black president; Obama’s not monumentally unqualified, and his solid-if-boring book at least had some unkind words for teachers unions. Also my kids like him.“), Steve Chapman (“Barack Obama, for two main reasons: The Republican Party, which has jettisoned its best inclinations and indulged its worst for the last eight years, richly deserves exile from the White House, and 2) because he shows an intelligence and temperament that suggest he will govern more pragmatically than ideologically-the best that can be hoped for from a Democratic president.”), Craig Newmark (“Barack Obama, since he’s a genuine leader, with a good program for cleaning up Washington, and will be very good for business.”), Steven Pinker (” Barack Obama, because he most exemplifies Reason and Free Minds (sorry, the country is in no mood for Freer Markets). The contrast between his discernment and eclecticism and the Republican ticket’s impulsiveness and idiot populism is vastly more important than any differences in their adherence to libertarian first principles.”), Damon W. Root (“I really just want the Republicans to lose.”), Ryan Sager (“I am voting for Barack Obama, because I believe in hope and change and unicorns. Also, John McCain is dangerously mentally unfit to be president”), Julian Sanchez (who at least based it on war), John Scalzi (“I’ll be voting for Obama, because I think as a nation we’re about to descend into a pile of hurt, and I want someone who is smart, pragmatic, and not prone to temper tantrums working to get us out of it as quickly as possible… Finally, I think the GOP need a moment or two in the Time Out corner, don’t you? “), et al.

    Straw man? I don’t think so.

    McCain supported TARP. Game over, nough said.

    And so did Obama, of course. So you’d rather have the person who supported the farm bill, the energy bill, Buy American (and the Patriot Corporation Act), AND TARP? (It’s perhaps unfair to speculate about things like the prescription drug benefit that Obama was not a senator for.

    There is no doubt in my mind that McCain would’ve played ball on the “stimulus.” He might’ve insisted on more tax cuts and less Democratic wish list items, but only the veneer would’ve changed. Not the substance.

    He isn’t playing ball right now, unless you count his alternative (no Buy America, corporate tax cut, payroll tax cuts, cost half as much) as only a veneer. There are plenty of libertarian reasons to criticize McCain, but the one (perhaps only) thing he’s been consistent about is being a deficit hawk. As noted, he voted against Republican farm bills, energy bills, and prescription drug bills as well, even when those were “bipartisan compromises.”

  78. Or maybe it was the McCain-Feingold Act.

    Yeah, really irrational to oppose McCain…

    Ah yes, it’s really rational to oppose McCain for something that his opponent supports, is in the past, and is not going to be overturned anyway. But yes, fine, that’s acceptable. Oppose McCain for that reason if you must. I understand it, McCain-Feingold is terrible law. But then please don’t come crying about how you think that spending, free trade, the stimulus, or farm subsidies are so important. You’ve clearly vitiated your own argument. You’ve said that McCain-Feingold is more important than any of those. (And certainly don’t cite McCain-Feingold as a reason to vote for Obama, though I think few libertarians actually did that, even out of the Reason contributors who voted for Obama.)

    If you wanted to argue that “McCain’s position on farm subsidies doesn’t matter, because as we saw this year, the pro-subsidy lobby can always get a two-thirds to override a veto of a farm bill,” I’d certainly buy that, for example.

  79. This is where we get out of the way and let them fuck themselves with overreach.

    After we’ve clearly registered our dissent, of course.

  80. I have a thought. There ain’t nothing we can do about the past. The GOP as configured from 2000-2008 handed us some of this mess and set up a massive power play by the Democrats. Tut, tut, let’s move on. Libertarians, limited government Republicans, disenchanted Democrats, etc. need to unify to oppose this slide into yet more government and less freedom. We can squabble over the details after we’ve resisted these fools in Washington.

    I wish Americans would realize how much safer we are with divided government. That understanding alone would protect us more than switching parties periodically.

  81. You’ve said that McCain-Feingold is more important than any of those. (And certainly don’t cite McCain-Feingold as a reason to vote for Obama, though I think few libertarians actually did that, even out of the Reason contributors who voted for Obama.)

    1) I didn’t vote for Obama or anyone else. I was a conscientious objecter to the 2008 elections.

    2) Yes, the First Amendment, and in particular free speech, is more important than a few handouts and the government’s balance sheet.

  82. And so did Obama, of course. So you’d rather have the person who supported the farm bill, the energy bill, Buy American (and the Patriot Corporation Act), AND TARP?

    Nope, didnt vote for him either. I voted for the one with the goofy mustache.

  83. Tom Selleck?

  84. Episiarch,

    I wasn’t talking about Augustus…

    I know. And I was being inane. Check out my alert. Mine was a pointless remark.

  85. Straw man? I don’t think so.

    I think so, my cherry-picking friend. “Libertarians” said no such thing. One-third of the reason staff said they’d vote for Obama, and according to my quick-and-dirty math, that is substantially less than all.

    Your cute little attempt at broad brushing is pathetic.

  86. One-third of the reason staff said they’d vote for Obama,

    You know, I’d love to hear from them how happy they are with their man in the White House.

  87. I think so, my cherry-picking friend. “Libertarians” said no such thing. One-third of the reason staff said they’d vote for Obama, and according to my quick-and-dirty math, that is substantially less than all.

    Did I say all? I don’t believe so. But it was indeed, roughly, one-third Obama, one-third Barr, one-third “I don’t vote/I don’t matter anyway.” And almost all of those who voted for Obama gave reasons exactly like what I quoted in my post.

    There were a few McCain voters, indeed, for obvious push-button reasons (one worrying about lawyers, Dave Kopel on guns and because he’s pro-war, and one guy who claims to actually vote on the basis of free trade and farm subsidies, good on him.)

    But overall, on a binary Obama-McCain axis, Reason contributors far preferred Obama. That would make some degree of sense if, say, foreign policy was the quoted reason (though with Obama promising to fight in Afghanistan, and torture prisoners in supermax prisons like ADX Florence or through “targeted, timely, and temporary” rendition instead of at Gitmo, I don’t see a lot of “change” there so far), or a hope of change in drug policy. But it was almost all “temperament” and “intelligence” and the same sort of “this guy is more like me” crap that is mocked when hoi polloi vote on the “having a beer with” basis, with a sprinkling of “punish McCain for things he voted against or for things he voted for but Obama did also, or even for things that he voted against and Obama voted for, like the energy and farm bills.”

  88. Tom Selleck?

    He wasnt on your ballot?

  89. Dude, I’d totally vote for Magnum.

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