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?