Economics

Senate Passes $800 Billion (and Then Some) Ways to Die Bill, A.K.A. Stimulus Legislation

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I once tried to regulate breakfast cereal. Click on my gut to find out more.

All Dems and three Reps (Arlen Specter, Susan Collins, and Olympia Snowe) voted for it. GOP N.H. Sen. Judd Gregg, tapped for a cabinet slot, abstained.

Sez the Wash Post:

The Senate today passed an economic stimulus bill that President Obama and congressional Democrats called crucial to pull the U.S. economy out of its downward spiral but that drew scant support from Republicans….

"When the town is burning, we don't check party labels," Obama said. "Everyone needs to grab a hose!"…

Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.), speaking on behalf of the bill, said that although the nation is edging into a "recessionary spiral downward" that could become a depression, "the other side is still adamantly sticking to policies that don't work."

He said that Democrats "bent over backward" to accommodate GOP views but that they were "drawing the line at continuing the very policies" that led to the current crisis. He also pointed out that the two largest amendments to the bill were added by Republicans: a $36 billion homebuyers' tax credit promoted by  Sen. Johnny Isakson (Ga.) and a $70 billion patch to the alternative minimum tax authored by  Sen. Charles E. Grassley (Iowa). Yet neither senator voted for the overall bill, Schumer said.

In addition, he said, "lots of the little porky things" that Republicans objected to in the bill have been removed. These items, such as funding to spruce up the Mall, were "excuses," since their removal still did not attract GOP votes, he said.

"The sad fact…is that unless the bill is all tax cuts, mostly for the wealthy, and has almost no spending, the other side will never vote for it," Schumer said. He vowed, "We will not be diverted…We will not sacrifice the focus of this bill—jobs, tax cuts for the middle class and infrastructure—for anything."

More here.

Immediate reaction: I'm sure that Chuck Schumer had to sacrifice a lot in a bill that was trimmed by $100 billion and still ended up north of $800 billion. Some gave all. All gave some. And we'll be paying this one off from now until our 200th birthdays.

It is far from clear what the hell Schumer could possibly mean when he says we have to stop continuing the very policies that got us in such a pickle. Like what? Too much government spending? Too much government subsidy of the housing market? Too much consumer spending? Isn't this thing specificially designed to get all of that moving again? How about letting housing values actually sink down to where they might actually deserve to be? How about letting Fed rates drift up from 0 percent for a quarter or three? How about simply cutting taxes across the board, accompanied by spending cuts?

That said, Republicans, especially in the Senate, don't have any credibility on fiscal issues. They did nothing but break the bank when they actually ran the government and they did next to nothing when George W. Bush and Twitchy Paulson rolled out the bailout barrel last fall.

So why is their bipartisan failure falling onto our collective bottom line?

Because this is America, dammit, and their debt is our debt. But I still want to remember a time when a trillion dollars was a lot of money.

More on the Senate's slapfight from earlier today.

NEXT: McDonald's vs. Starbucks

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  1. You must not question The Leaders, Comrad Gillespie. It is all too much for our lesser minds to understand.

  2. “When the town is burning, we don’t check party labels,” Obama said. “Everyone needs to grab a hose!”…

    We’ve come a long way from the Politics of Fear, haven’t we?

  3. “When the town is burning, we don’t check party labels,” Obama said. “Everyone needs to grab a hose!”…

    But what if the hose is spraying gasoline?

    Seriously though, someone make the horrible metaphors stop, please.

  4. My grandchildren are so very fucked.

  5. “Because this is America, dammit, and their debt is our debt. But I still want to remember a time when a trillion dollars was a lot of money.”

    Ah, poor Nick, poor Nick. The government’s so bad it makes you want to shoot yourself, and then they take away your pistol. Better hold a drinking game party in backyard–while you can!

  6. Business sure seems to be liking this, given the Dow today.

  7. I have seen the future in Moscow circa 1995.

  8. We’ve come a long way from the Politics of Fear, haven’t we?

    Well, it’s that steady temperament he’s known for. Good thing he’s not one of those hotheads calling the stimulus “generational theft.” Why, such rashness would make him unfit to be President.

  9. I may still have a Wip Inflation Now button somewhere.

  10. But what if the hose is spraying gasoline?

    BPC, eh, that’s metaphor’s a bit odd. I prefer the “but what if it’s a chemical or electrical fire?”

  11. I will not vote for anyone who voted for this bill or who signs it or who supports it. Period.

    Senator Nelson, you are dead to me.
    Governor Crist, you are dead to me.
    President Obama, you are dead to me.

    My representative voted against the bailout and against the “stimulus.” His name is Gus Bilirakis. I will vote for him as a reward.

    Senator Martinez is leaving after this term, so I will just wave good-bye. I think he voted for the bailout, anyway, so good on the “stimulus” isn’t enough to make me happy.

  12. Joe,
    You must be happy, you’ll be improving “signage” rules for lots of communities soon. I can hear that cash register ringing.

  13. Pro Lib,

    Im voting for Bunning when he runs again. Plus, he made the hall of fame without steroids.

  14. Huzzah comrades, our revolution begins today!

  15. Surely, all our political leaders will be quaking in their boots at the thought of Reason Magazine saying bad things about some of them.

    Oh, wait, they aren’t.

    I don’t think BHO is paying off Reason to be his completely ineffective opposition, it just works out that way.

    If anyone actually want to prevent the U.S. from being looted out of trillions of dollars, help me promote this plan. Stop whatever you’re doing, and make that happen.

  16. Hey Libertoonians,
    How’s that whole “I’m too principled to vote for the lesser evil” thing working out for you?

  17. Don’t click that link! It just goes to uselessshitwad.com like usual!

  18. Maine has now passed Detroit on my fuck you state list.

  19. Looks like Schumer may be in need of a manzier.

    I’m sure there is something in the bill for the male undergarment industry to get that going.

  20. I’m going to the gym today and paying some bills. Try stimulating that, hah!

  21. I didn’t think it was possible for me to hate Chuckles more than I already do, but these quotes (plus that picture) just pushed me over the top. Thanks, Nick!

  22. The rest of Michigan is actually okay, it’s Detroit that is the pus.

  23. “Everyone needs to grab a hose!”

    I thought this was a very apt analogy for the unproductive, instantly gratifying act of passing a stimulus bill. Then I realized he meant a fire hose.

  24. psssst, Jerry…Detroit isn’t a state.

    But yeah, I’ll still join you in hearty fuck you! to Maine. Is it too late to sell it to Canada? They could get it for cheap cheap cheap!

  25. I live in PA, and it’s taking all my will-power to not call Arlen Specter’s office and blast him for going along with this nonsense.

  26. How’s that whole “I’m too principled to vote for the lesser evil” thing working out for you?

    Fine.

  27. I was disappointed with Obama’s speech on this yesterday. One, he stumbled through it and made a couple of gaffes. Sure, not intentional, but still had me grinding my teeth.

    “Some people say this is wasteful spending, well, this is exactly what this country needs right now”.

    I also found myself wincing at the George W. Bushism’s. No, not those ones, the ones where he says a lively debate is all good and fine, but we need to get in line behind his legislation.

    Debate, be lively, but in the end, vote my way.

    I mean, like this one:

    “When the town is burning, we don’t check party labels,”

    The town is burning, so you have to agree with my fix.

    Pro L:

    Senator Nelson, you are dead to me.
    Governor Crist, you are dead to me.
    President Obama, you are dead to me.

    Uhh no, you’re dead to them. You do understand how this works, right?

  28. Things were bad, but now they’re good. Forever!

  29. FUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUCK

  30. God, Chuck is one ugly dyke, ain’t he?

  31. Better hold a drinking game party in backyard–while you can!

    Can’t have that, now can we?

  32. “Everyone needs to grab a hose!”

    If everyone grabs a hose, it either means that we all grab the same hose, which will accomplish nothing, being that we’ll all have our own idea of which fire to put out and fight over the hose, or, we all have our own hoses, which will kill the water pressure and make everyone grabbing a hose moot. It’ll probably just end up in a wet t-shirt contest anyway.

    The official presidential metaphor writer can now go out back and off himself. That, or familiarize himself with the concept of the bucket.

  33. Yeah, I’m so numb to all this stimulus and bailout talk that the first thing I thought of was –

    Nice bitch tits. The pink shirt really shows them off well.

    That and Cutty Ranks singing Who Say Me Dun. 6 million ways to die choose one…eh he…eh he…. heh heh heh.

  34. Paul,

    Oh, I understand all too well. But maybe this clusterfuck will wake up some voters for once. Probably not, but maybe.

  35. “”When the town is burning, we don’t check party labels,” Obama said. “Everyone needs to grab a hose!”…

    And be certain to swallow it all. Every sticky drop. Fearmongers love that.

  36. What of the “Buy American” provisions? Are they still in there … the wire hasn’t been clear as to that part.

  37. But maybe this clusterfuck will wake up some voters for once. Probably not, but maybe.

    George W. Bush woke some voters up. And this was the response.

    Frankly, I’m underwhelmed. I almost miss the days of Democrats wining about gun violence. Because they can’t take away my guns, it only bothered me that they were threatening to make it illegal for me to continue to own them. This is something I can’t stop. And my daughter’s daughter is going to be paying for this thing.

  38. “No, no. No, see this is a really shit idea. You know why? Because it’s really obviously a shit idea.”

  39. Who is that woman with the Chuck Schumer mask on?

  40. Paul,

    There is one good thing about the current Democratic government. It comes right on the heels of a GOP-branded bad government. While we’re suffering the negatives of that–blaming Bush allows the Democrats to go apeshit for a while–the positives are that people will see how bad both parties are and may, just may, demand some serious change. Not Obama “change” but the real thing. We have been provoked into screaming for reform in the past, after all.

  41. (caption)

    “Haaaaayyaaaaayyyyy! I grabbed a hose. Pick up a hose and start spraying, fags! Spray me! Aaaahhhh.

  42. But I still want to remember a time when a trillion dollars was a lot of money.

    But every changed on 9/11, right?

    Wait, no, there’s something else now, isn’t there?

  43. What of the “Buy American” provisions? Are they still in there … the wire hasn’t been clear as to that part.

    First off, the Senate voted against Sen. McCain’s amendment to strip the Buy American provisions. Sen. Byron Dorgan, trade skeptic, offered a “notwithstanding the Buy American clauses, anything not allowed by an existing trade agreement we won’t do.” Hard to know how much impact that will have, since the sponsors were insisting that the original provisions didn’t violate any actual agreements.

    Secondly, the bill still has to go to conference, so that the House and Senate versions have to be reconciled. House Transportation Committee Chariman Jim Oberstar (D-MN) has vowed to not support the final bill unless it has the Buy American provisions, and promises to “bring a lot of votes” with him. Since he’s a chairman, he’ll likely be on the conference committee, and he’ll make the conference bill include the provisions, which passed the House.

    The conference report then has to be adopted without amendments by the House and Senate. It can be filibustered. Sens. Specter, Snowe, and Collins have already threatened to vote against if the conference report, as widely expected, ends up larger than either individual bill by including all spending present in either.

    Assuming that it does get adopted, President Obama has to sign it.

  44. How’s that whole “I’m too principled to vote for the lesser evil” thing working out for you?

    Golly, I sure wished I’d a voted for granpa angrypants. He’d a made sure they’d a limited it to $700 Billion. Oh, my shame…

  45. caption:

    Whether on the go, or fighting for crap legislation that will bankrupt the nation, Chuck Schumer exclusively wears Manboobs Sportsbras!

  46. Does Obama have to sign it or can he just write ‘Present’?

  47. He’d a made sure they’d a limited it to $700 Billion. Oh, my shame…

    FWIW, His was $400 billion, consisting of a corporate tax rate cut and a temporary payroll tax cut (and no Buy American.) You know, something similar to what Jeff Miron proposed in Reason, and that proposed by libertarian-leaning economists.

    I might prefer nothing at all still, but the political winds are definitely against that. Doesn’t matter whether you’re talking Gallup or Rasmussen, even people who want the current bill to have more tax cuts and less spending still want some stimulus bill. (And they also prefer Obama’s direction on the bill, go figure.) It’s sad and ridiculous watching fellow libertarians delude themselves into thinking that the public agrees with them. Oh, everyone’s a libertarian– except when it comes to the particulars.

  48. Sens. Specter, Snowe, and Collins have already threatened to vote against if the conference report, as widely expected, ends up larger than either individual bill by including all spending present in either.

    And they probably will, after voting for cloture to make sure it gets to a floor vote that it is guaranteed to pass.

    So they can say they voted against it after they voted for it. That always fools the rubes, doesn’t it?

  49. And they probably will, after voting for cloture to make sure it gets to a floor vote that it is guaranteed to pass.

    Most likely. It would be some fun political theater if we saw a filibuster of the conference report and all of the three stuck to it. Well, until Senator Franken and the moderate “Republican” replacing Sen. Judd Gregg can get there to vote for it.

    So they can say they voted against it after they voted for it. That always fools the rubes, doesn’t it?

    Hey, it fooled lots of otherwise educated people when it came to voting for the estate tax elimination. They couldn’t understand how since a technical vote to lift the Byrd Rule failed that the estate tax had to come back after ten years, and foolishly focused on both the final vote for passage and the vote for cloture.

  50. Shoot, if I’d known McCain would’ve limited the “stimulus” to a mere $400 billion, I’d have voted for him on that issue alone. Of course, Babar (or, better yet, Paul) would’ve tried to hold it to zero.

    Betcha we get a new war to go with this “stimulus” before this administration says buh-bye in 2013. But at least the trillions going into the money hole now are Democratic trillions. Thank God, right?

  51. John, close to 50% of the country was against this, even with the new shiny president and the media pimping it 24/7. Imagine if some political figures actually came up with a principled and intelligent stand against this POS.

    Also, if you’ve been following US politics for any time, you should know that a $400 billion bill will not be $400 billion bill by the time it gets out of committee and comes up for a vote.

  52. The Dow Jones Industrial Average closed down 381.99 or 4.62% at 7,888.88.
    The all time high was on 10/09/07 when the Dow closed at 14,164.53.

    The crude oil trading markets remain open, however, at approximately 3:30 PM CST the price of crude oil
    was trading $1.59 lower today at $37.97 per barrel.

  53. “It is far from clear what the hell Schumer could possibly mean when he says we have to stop continuing the very policies that got us in such a pickle.”

    Your first mistake was to pay any attention to Shumer had to say about this – or anything else he has ever said in his life for that matter.

    He is nothing but an overinflated gasbag whose only discernable talent in life is being able to detect the presence of any TV cameras in his general vicinity with something approaching the speed of light and get in front of them.

  54. JT, PL – if the past eight years should have taught us anything, what Republicans say when they are out of office and what they do when they are in office are completely unrelated.

  55. BP,

    The suckage of the GOP in power is indisputable. As is the suckage of the Democrats. I’ll give the GOP this much–I don’t think we’d be passing this bill if they were still around. They aren’t entirely suicidal. The Democrats may just very well be.

  56. You principled libertarians who oppose a trillion dollar screwing might want to wonder why Reason and none of their commenters are picking up on the plan I linked above.

    I guess letting DC screw us out of trillions of dollars is small change compared to the horror of doing something I suggest.

    You will hopefully think different.

  57. PL – perhaps, but I remember all too well how fast McCain ran to be bi-partisan and supported the initial bailout.

  58. If the past eight years should have taught us anything, what Republicans say when they are out of office and what they do when they are in office are completely unrelated.

    If the past anything has taught us anything, it’s that divided government, while it can often suck, is generally better than the alternatives. Which was, to me, a decent reason to support McCain, since the Democrats were obviously going to hold Congress.

    John, close to 50% of the country was against this, even with the new shiny president and the media pimping it 24/7.

    Non sequitur, BakedPenguin. Close to 50% of the country is against this. But that has almost nothing to do with how much of the country is against stimulus in general and would prefer to do nothing, sadly. Those are two very different things.

    Imagine if some political figures actually came up with a principled and intelligent stand against this POS.

    Yes. They’d lose very, very badly if they came out against all stimulus plans. Even very libertarian economists are quite on board with some sort of stimulus, though obviously enormously different from this piece of crap. A temporary payroll tax cut, for example.

  59. but I remember all too well how fast McCain ran to be bi-partisan and supported the initial bailout.

    Yes, but do you remember that he opposed the bi-partisan farm bills, the bi-partisan energy bills, the bi-partisan prescription drug benefit bill?

    But instead we have someone who approves of all of those things, plus the bailout and the new bailout.

    With the initial bailout, there was at least a decent case that enormous disaster was imminent. I don’t completely buy it either, but there certainly was a reasonable case. Countries have had actual economic collapse due to financial panics in a way that isn’t true with other industries. That’s not true with this stimulus package; it’s to try to avoid the pain of a recession, not have the entire financial industry collapse.

  60. fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck

  61. Yeah, I’m so numb to all this stimulus and bailout talk that the first thing I thought of was – Nice bitch tits. The pink shirt really shows them off well.

    Well, put, Ska. I’m too depressed by all this to even come up with decent snark. Blech.

  62. Caption!

    “Listen, Chuck, me and the boys think one Mrs. Doubtfire impersonation a day is enough. Now don’t you start doing one to respond to me, just to piss me off. I’m serious, I’ll — dammit.”

  63. passivated observer | February 10, 2009, 4:19pm | #

    Does Obama have to sign it or can he just write ‘Present’?

    As long as Congress is still in session, any bill approved by both houses gets passed into law in 10 days (exclusing Sundays)

  64. As a Mainer, I’m feeling the need to give myself the finger. Damn my Senatorettes.

  65. “My grandchildren are so very fucked.”

    I am so very fucked.

    I put in four years of college…major…two minors…I graduate in May…

    I am FUCKED.

    If circumstances force me to live with the parents again a la Costanza, it will be time for me to resort to a life of crime.

    I hate everything. I’m going to get drunk as fuck tonight. Drunk as fuck.

  66. JW: But yeah, I’ll still join you in hearty fuck you! to Maine. Is it too late to sell it to Canada? They could get it for cheap cheap cheap!

    At the rate we’re piling up new debt, they’ll be able to buy the entire USA in a few years for cheap cheap cheap.

  67. I, for one, am fucking sickof this “burning building” analogy.

    First of all, if we’re all supposed to grab a hose, wouldn’t it be a bad idea to have unqualified firefighters manning firehoses? Wouldn’t that endanger more people.

    And yes, when firefighters arrive at the fire, the assess the situation and figure out the best way to put it out.

    They don’t just start grabbing anything to throw at the fire, like the barrels of gasoline from the store across the street, which is essetially what we’re doing right now.

    If I hear this dumbass analogy one more time, I’ll… well, I’ll grow more spiteful of the government than I already am!

  68. I’m listening to that Sopranos every swear word clip as I read this. It pretty much sums up my mood.

  69. I’m so pissed, I can’t even bother to check my spelling!!!

  70. “When the town is burning, you don’t check party labels. Everybody needs to grab a hose.”

    Yes, Mr. Obama, but don’t you think we should check to make sure that the stuff coming out of the hose is water (and not gas) before we spray?

    Because if the economy is the burning town, and the hose is the stimulus bill, the hydrant is Congress. Gotta make sure that the stuff Congress is putting into the bill isn’t going to make things worse, or lengthen the amount of time the country stays in a recession. Any good Firefighter knows this, Mr. Obama.

  71. John Thacker @ 4:20

    “It’s sad and ridiculous watching fellow libertarians delude themselves into thinking that the public agrees with them. Oh, everyone’s a libertarian– except when it comes to the particulars.”

    That’s a provocative statement. What do you mean by it?

  72. John Thacker @ 4:14

    Excellent summary of process. Thanks for it.

  73. I wonder why Obama main thought when he found the town burning was to throw more gas on the fire.

    I do think Schumer is cute. Too cute for Barney Frank though they do make such a darling pair.

  74. Do I even have to say it.

  75. MadRandian | February 10, 2009, 3:33pm | #
    Hey Libertoonians,
    How’s that whole “I’m too principled to vote for the lesser evil” thing working out for you?

    Hey Republicons, how is that, ‘I’ll shove any dipshit VP candidate and all over the map old codger down your damn pie hole, and you’ll like it’, working for you?’

  76. They are wearing the “Ruby Slippers” but like Dorothy have no clue how to use them. The economy like a large swimming pool has been drained, all the swimmers kicked out. They want the swimmers to come back but don’t want to put the water back in the pool. The pool has become a wishing well, by their own admission, they are throwing money into the pool and wishing and hoping it has some effect. Wake up, give people mortgages again, they will buy houses and clean up the inventory,values will stabilize and all those “Toxic” mortgages will actually have value. Put some water back in the damn pool!!! Show some faith in the American people.

  77. I feel much better since they gabve me my lithium and put on my special jacket and put me in my safe room. I have my Teddy. I have my poster of Hussein.

    So everything is okay now. The voices have stopped talking to me.

  78. They may have buried a poster of Hussein and a Teddy with Ron, but I’m certain Reagan isn’t feeling a thing right now.

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