Economics

After Bush, the Deficit Deluge! And the Portugese Water Dog!

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How many of you got 8 percent raises this year?

Congress has passed the $410 billion omnibus spending bill for fiscal year 2009.

That means it will soon be landing on President Barack Obama's desk with all the wood-shattering force that only a massively swollen, pork-addled, insane hunk of burning government love (metaphors fail me!) could manage.

And make no mistake about it: While the Dems dominate, this is truly a bipartisan bill whose many nausea-inducing details came from both sides of the aisle. Which is to say, on the other side of the street from you, me, and the godforsaken taxpayer (and his children's children's cyborgs).

Some details from the AP:

The bill was written mostly over the course of last year, with support from key Republicans such as Minority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky and Lamar Alexander of Tennessee, the Senate's No. 3 Republican.

They sit on the Senate Appropriations Committee. McConnell is the successful sponsor or co-sponsor of $76 million worth of pet projects, known as "earmarks," not requested by former President George W. Bush, according to Taxpayers for Common Sense, a budget watchdog group. Alexander obtained a more modest 36 earmarks totaling $32 million….

The big increases—among them a 14 percent boost for a popular program that feeds infants and poor women and a 10 percent increase for housing vouchers for the poor—represent a clear win for Democrats who spent most of the past decade battling with Bush over money for domestic programs.

Generous above-inflation increases are spread throughout, including a $2.4 billion, 13 percent increase for the Agriculture Department and a 10 percent increase for the money-losing Amtrak passenger rail system.

More here.

Despite his pledge to run a pork-free operation, Obama will sign this legislation, which also loosens some of the incredibly stupid Cuban policies that George W. Bush intensified. Whoopee. That, along with such welcome shifts as stopping DEA raids on perfectly legal (under state law) medical marijuana dispensaries and a few other things that could have been done in 10 minutes at no cost to taxpayers, is pretty thin gruel.

As Veronique de Rugy has pointed out at Reason.com, here's what we've been looking at in terms of overall government spending in recent years: $2.98 trillion in fiscal 2008; $3.94 in fiscal 2009; and $3.55 trillion in fiscal 2010 (this is the number in Obama's budget estimate; given his plans to overhaul health care and past experience, the total is likely to go up by the time everything is settled). Bush was the pits. Obama's looking like a bowl of pits.

He's already blown out every stop on the budget, nominated a bunch of tax cheats and nutjobs for big appointments, bombed foreign countries and signaled we'll be in Afghanistan (country on the grow!) for the next 1,000 years, somehow managed to push the Dow Jones index even lower, tiptoed around the issue of overactive executive privilege, picked a Portugese Water dog as a pet for his kids (partly because Ted Kennedy, that old salt, "lobbied" for it), and embarassed us all by giving shitty DVDs to the leader of a Third World country (Britain, but we need all the friends we can get).

Which brings us to the question of the moment: What the hell are Obama's next 50 days in office gonna look like?

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  1. Nitpick on the graphic-

    “awarding domestic agencies increases averaging 8%”

    ‘State/Foreign Operations’ is not really a ‘domestic agency’

    Nor, even with the former admin’s def of unitary executive, is the ‘Legislative Branch’

  2. another nit: with the scheduled date of the singularity the taxpayer’s grandchildren *are* cyborgs.

  3. Gosh it’s fun to watch aging right-wing twits have apoplexy. The real question is what is the libertarian market-worshiping cult going to look like in four years. Depends of those donations, I guess.

  4. Move over Weimar, here comes the USA.

  5. While the Dems dominate, this is truly a bipartisan bill whose many nausea-inducing details came from both sides of the aisle.

    The earmarks did, certainly, under the standard rule of 60% for the majority, 40% for the minority. Ron Paul played his part as well.

    Once the total sum of money is decided, you have to decide if you’re going to play ball or let your district get none. Some people (McCain, Minority Leader Boehner) don’t go for earmarks, others (McConnell, Ron Paul) take pride in it even if and when they criticize the overall numbers.

  6. Which brings us to the question of the moment: What the hell are Obama’s next 50 days in office gonna look like?

    Dark and curly with a wet nose and a sweet disposition toward children.

  7. When I commit suicide over this, I’m going to march out into the sea, vindictively baring my teeth. I won’t stop ’til I die or the sharks get me.

    *note for actual curious suiciders–that is TOTALLY the way to kill yourself. When people find out that you just walked into the ocean until you died…they’ll know you really meant it.

  8. Obama will sign this legislation, which also loosens some of the incredibly stupid Cuban policies that George W. Bush intensified

    Is that for sure? I know that one big reason that the bill was held up was that Robert Menendez (D-NJ) and Bill Nelson (D-FL) refused to go along with it because of the Cuban provisions. They didn’t succeed in watering down the loosening?

  9. McCain would have been worse

  10. nits?

    The big increases-among them a 14 percent boost for a popular program that feeds infants and poor women

    WIC, you know what I really hate about WIC?
    Standing in the checkout line behind some welfare bitch arguing with the cashier because she can’t buy fake cheese with her WIC voucher.
    Fucking cunt can get any cheese she wants for free with the damn thing as long as it is dairy and she is whining she can’t get fake cheese made out of vegetable oil.I swear this has happened to me more than 20 times.Black and white too, IllegalMexican Moms at least get the free real queso for their AnchorBabies.

  11. The scary thing is that the world is slowly catching on to just how much debt Obama will be racking up over the next few years, and it threatens to end the dollar’s status as the planet’s safest currency. If that happens… well, remember Iceland?

    There’s a really good breakdown of global evaluation of Obama’s debt policies here. It’s pretty damn scary.

  12. It’s the retarded leading the blind.

    The only thing the Obama administration is good at is finding tax cheats.

    His administration is so bad that somehow the State Department forgot how to translate Russian.

  13. John

    Inflaing up to a minimum wage of 250k a year would solve the revenue problems and Obama could “keep his campaign promise”.

  14. John’s link is quite good:
    http://www.meltingpotproject.com/mpp/jar-of-dirt-economics.html

    It basically states that McDonald’s debt is rated much higher than the debt of the US government.

  15. I think it’s finally time for Reason to ask, “WWRDD”? That stands for “What Would Rangnar Dingusbord Do?” (Rangnar is a pirate in one of the great works of libertarian literature).

    And, in this case, Rangnar would discredit pols who support massive spending on video by asking them real questions, then Rangnar would upload the video to Youtube.

    Reason would do what Rangnar would do, except their glass of milk is cooling down.

  16. Shut the fuck up Lonewacko!!!

  17. ev | March 10, 2009, 9:53pm | #
    When I commit suicide over this, I’m going to march out into the sea, vindictively baring my teeth. I won’t stop ’til I die or the sharks get me.

    *note for actual curious suiciders–that is TOTALLY the way to kill yourself. When people find out that you just walked into the ocean until you died…they’ll know you really meant it.

    If it doesn’t involve a high powered rifle, a tower and a shoot out with cops whatever method involved is too effete for my blood.

    However, come to think of it, there are ways to make your scenario work for me, a headline like, ‘He died while attempting to fuck a shark’ come to mind, and sub header caption, ‘PCP, coke and alcohol found in blood stream.’

  18. I predict that on Day 99 in a fit of rage during a coke bender an increasingly fatigue-addled Obama will order a pre-emptive nuclear strike against China, Russia, Iran, and Rush Limbaugh.

  19. Everything I needed to know about literature I learned from Lonewacko…

  20. “PCP, coke, and raped shark found in bloodstream” is un-effete.

    ON TOPIC:

    What the hell are Obama’s next 50 days in office gonna look like?

    The only trend-line that doesn’t look steady is “weird shit about Jews.” That’s the grower.

  21. Actually it’s nice to witness a little apoplexy from Reason. All that wry detachment starts to grate after a while.

  22. $27.6 billion for the Department of the Interior isn’t normal.

    BUT ON METH IT IS!

  23. The apoplexy is probably born of a sinking feeling that even donations can’t keep the nonsense going much longer. Twenty-three comments, and at least two of them not from a well wisher? Not a good sign.

  24. @John-

    Color me unconvinced that the CDS spreads on Federal debt actually mean anything. There is no reliable mechanism for that market to settle; as such it’s the ultimate proposition bet.

    What I mean to say is: What are they denominated in? If the contract is entirely in dollars, that’s a sucker’s bet par excellance (where the person buying the coverage is a sucker). And even if it’s not, nobody has enough Euros, Yen, Pounds, CHF, and/or Gold to cover a failure in treasuries. Because the first day the US defaults on the debt, the run on the dollar will make every other currency and commodity nearly unobtainable at any price.

    The model for failure of the US Debt is not 21 century Iceland, it’s 5th century Italy. The measure of how likely it is to fail is not CDS spreads, it’s dollar strength and the yield curve. And the only hedge against its failure is guns, ammo, canned goods, and the recreational substance of your choice.

    (actually, a substance of every else’s choice would be better – but, and this is just a hunch, I think sexually abused sharks would have low barter value.)

  25. Kolohe, even nurse sharks? Hubba hubba.

  26. McCain would have been worse

    You honestly think he’d be signing off on 9,000 earmarks? I really doubt that.

  27. Shorter Lefiti: You’re all irrelevant. That’s why I post here six hours a day!

  28. PapayaSF,
    Teh Republicanz must be punished!

  29. Papaya, that’s not what he said!

  30. Raivo Pommer
    raimo1@hot.ee

    HEDGE-FOND

    Die Kapitalabfl?sse gestalteten sich in der Branche in Europa und den Vereinigten Staaten allerdings sehr unterschiedlich: W?hrend amerikanische Hedge-Fonds in gro?em Umfang juristische Sperren nutzten, die eine sofortige R?ckzahlung von Anlagegeld an die Kunden beschr?nkten oder hinausz?gerten (Gates), ist dies bei europ?ischen Hedge-Fonds weniger ?blich. Auch gibt es in Europa mehr Dachfonds, in die Privatinvestoren investieren. Diese hatten die erste K?ndigungswelle bei Hedge-Fonds im Herbst 2008 ausgel?st. Die Kapitalabfl?sse aus Hedge-Fonds waren daher in der zweiten Jahresh?lfte vor allem in Europa relativ hoch. Die Mittel europ?ischer Hedge-Fonds schrumpften nach Einsch?tzung von Morgan Stanley um 25 bis 30 Prozent.

    In den Vereinigten Staaten beliefen sich die Mittelabfl?sse zun?chst “nur” auf 15 bis 20 Prozent. Dies erkl?rt, warum der weltweite Verband der Hedge-Fonds, die Alternative Investment Management Association (AIMA), k?rzlich bekanntgab, dass das Anlagekapital der 1200 bei der AIMA registrierten Mitglieder jetzt zum Gro?teil von institutionellen Investoren gehalten werde und nicht mehr von verm?genden Einzelpersonen, wie dies fr?her der Fall gewesen war.

  31. But Obama Inherited It?!

  32. Teh Republicanz must be punished!

    My god, how short people’s memories are! If, by some miracle, the GOP won the POTUS and Congress, we’d get all the same shit we’re getting now.

    The only difference is that the media would be calling it free-market policy…

  33. See how much our Cities, States, Country and households could save on taxes if Marijuana were decriminalized, then sign the petition:
    MarijuanaLobby.org Change we can engage in…

    We are going to have to pay off ALL these bailouts somehow!

  34. That, along with such welcome shifts as stopping DEA raids on perfectly legal (under state law) medical marijuana dispensaries and a few other things that could have been done in 10 minutes at no cost to taxpayers, is pretty thin gruel.

    Notice how Obama avoided taking any personal responsibility for this? He could have stopped them his own self, but didn’t.

  35. PapayaSF – either he would have signed it, or his veto would have been overridden

    effectively the same outcome, so he probably would have signed it so not to appear obstructionist

  36. Nick,
    Could you explain how a bill with no earmarks would be in any way better? As I understand it, earmarks only direct money that has already been appropriated , they do not add money to an existing bill. If you don’t earmark, then you just give the executive branch a lump sum and they spend it how they see fit, with little to no transparency at all. In other words, wouldn’t it be better to earmark the shit out of every bill, down to the last penny, to know exactly where that money is going? Isn’t that the job of our Reps and Senators, which are supposed to be a check on the ridiculously powerful executive branch?

    Also, I’m just naturally suspicious of anti-earmarking because John McCain is for it. Anything that shifty bastard gets behind has to be wrong.

  37. Could you explain how a bill with no earmarks would be in any way better?

    The stimulus wouldn’t have passed without earmarks. Nor would have TARP.

    If you don’t earmark, then you just give the executive branch a lump sum and they spend it how they see fit, with little to no transparency at all. In other words, wouldn’t it be better to earmark the shit out of every bill, down to the last penny, to know exactly where that money is going?

    Not necessarily. Many executive branch organization also have detailed formulae that describe how funding is to be distributed and awarded, which earmarking overturns. Fundamentally, though, it does in large part come down to trusting the bureaucracy versus trusting Congress.

    Also, I’m just naturally suspicious of anti-earmarking because John McCain is for it. Anything that shifty bastard gets behind has to be wrong.

    Glad to know that you favored the prescription drug benefit, and are also a big fan of agricultural subsidies. You also supported both energy bills. Oh, and you favor Buy American, and card check. You were also for the stimulus, and for the massive increase of domestic spending in this budget. Also, you’re in favor of Boeing bribing their way to a tanker contract. What an idiotic blanket statement.

  38. The stimulus wouldn’t have passed without earmarks. Nor would have TARP.

    Do you actually believe this?

    Fundamentally, though, it does in large part come down to trusting the bureaucracy versus trusting Congress.

    Which is why I said that the legislative branch has a responsibility to check the executive. Earmarks are one way to accomplish that, no?

    What an idiotic blanket statement.

    It was a joke. Here, let me be clearer – fuck McCain.

  39. The stimulus wouldn’t have passed without earmarks. Nor would have TARP.

    Do you actually believe this?

    Shrug. Ask Cato. “As a matter of fact, if you look at the top 20 senators (both parties) in terms of dollars of earmarks secured for this bill, 15 are appropriators. Every single Democratic member of the Senate Appropriation Committee voted for cloture. Republican appropriators Sens. Cochran, Specter, Bond, Shelby, Alexander, and Murkowski voted yes; Sens. McConnell, Gregg, Bennett, Hutchison, Brownback, Collins, and Voinovich voted no. Thus, without the support of these Republican appropriators, the bill would have been effectively killed.Of the top 20 recipients of earmarks in the bill, only 2 – Sens. Inhofe and McConnell – voted no.

  40. Earmarks are classic logrolling, a way to get a member to vote for something that they otherwise wouldn’t.

    Naturally you and I might like some logrolling better than others, but on budget bills, they generally only allow appropriations-related logrolling.

  41. I think that the case that the budget would not have passed in its present form without earmarks is fairly strong. Almost every single Republican that voted for it was one of the very top earmark recipients and on the Appropriations Committee (moderate Sen. Snowe the exception). Almost every top earmark recipient among the Republicans voted for it.

    Now, without earmarks a budget can still be passed with other forms of compromise. In some cases, particularly when Republicans are a majority, without earmarks the compromise would indeed be in the direction of yet more general budgetary appropriations. In this case, however, it seems unlikely.

  42. Thanks for the link/article. But… what, exactly, does this mean:

    “Bush was the pits. Obama’s looking like a bowl of pits.”

    ???

  43. I don’t know, Solana, but it must be racist.

  44. Earmarks are classic logrolling, a way to get a member to vote for something that they otherwise wouldn’t.

    Agreed. However, is an earmark an appropriation itself, or just a direction on how to spend some of that appropriation? I’ve heard many confusing definitions of this – the media seems to think an earmark is in fact an appropriation, so if you got rid of earmarks, then pork would magically go away. This seems overly simplistic. It seems to me that we are both against unnecessary spending – however, an earmark free bill is in fact a license for the executive branch to spend at its own discretion, to the limit of appropriated money, which is massive part of the problem, is it not?

  45. “Bush was the pits. Obama’s looking like a bowl of pits.”

    Cherry pits, I’m assuming.

  46. The stimulus wouldn’t have passed without earmarks. Nor would have TARP.

    Do you actually believe this?

    Uh, in both cases the bill failed on the first vote, and then essentially the same bill, with more earmarks added in, passed.

    So yeah, I believe it.

  47. There’s a really good breakdown of global evaluation of Obama’s debt policies here. It’s pretty damn scary.

    Wow, investors believe the U.S. Goverment is more likely to default than the French Government. Hope and Change, bitches!

  48. It seems to me that we are both against unnecessary spending – however, an earmark free bill is in fact a license for the executive branch to spend at its own discretion, to the limit of appropriated money, which is massive part of the problem, is it not?

    Again, not necessarily. Congress can and does set various rules for the vast majority of spending, some of which are quite detailed in the level of cost-benefit analysis or population/traffic/income measures used to judge various plans. There are tons of ways for Congress to specify how money should be used without directing it towards specific projects.

    In other cases, when you say “license for the executive branch,” sometimes you’re talking about putting power in the hands of the politically appointed members, but sometimes the executive branch parts that you’re talking about are the institutionalized bureaucracies. Some of those are fairly professional, but again, if you don’t trust them, you don’t trust them.

    Still, when the Congress orders NSF and NIH exactly how to spend their own money, that’s “politicizing science” by any measure. Of course, many people who decry “politicizing science” when they don’t like the results cheer it as “democratic oversight” when they do. (On all sides.)

    Democratic oversight is important, absolutely. But Congress should set impartial formulae and policy goals, not favor specific projects. Directing that money should support ethanol is a (misguided) policy. Directing that money should support one specific ethanol plant in one member’s district is an earmark, and generally worse.

  49. Nick,

    I love you, man. But unlike us lame posters you’re held to a higher standard…

    Portuguese is the word (as in Ms. Browning’s sonnets)

    In Latin laguages g can be hard or soft depending on whether a hard (a,o, or u) or soft (e or i) vowel follows it. In the case of portuguese, the u is necessary to emphasize a hard g vis-a-vis the soft g which is like our j as in jay.

    god bless,

    jester

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