Thursday, December 17, 2009

None dare call it... statefare 

...stimulus three or four. So it's instead a jobs bill that "reprises" Porkulus, in many ways.

By a vote of 217 to 212, the House approved additional spending for "shovel-ready" construction projects and money to avoid layoffs of teachers, police and other public employees. No Republicans voted for the bill, and 38 Democrats voted against it.

The Senate is expected to consider the measure early next year.

Leftover money from the government's $700 billion bank-bailout fund would cover $75 billion of the bill's price tag.

That's right. TARP legislation said that the money was to be paid back:
TRANSFER TO TREASURY.�Revenues of, and proceeds from the sale of troubled assets purchased under this Act, or from the sale, exercise, or surrender of warrants or senior debt instruments acquired under section 113 shall be paid into the general fund. (Sec. 106(d))
If you read Sec. 120, though, they gave the Secretary of the Treasury an out:
(a) TERMINATION.�The authorities provided under sections 101(a), excluding section 101(a)(3), and 102 shall terminate on December 31, 2009.
(b) EXTENSION UPON CERTIFICATION.�The Secretary, upon submission of a written certification to Congress, may extend the authority provided under this Act to expire not later than 2 years from the date of enactment of this Act. Such certification shall include a justification of why the extension is necessary to assist American families and stabilize financial markets, as well as the expected cost to the taxpayers for such an extension.
And on the 9th of this month Secretary Geithner took advantage of this authority:
In order to accomplish these goals, pursuant to Section 120(b) of EESA, I certify that I am hereby extending the authority provided under the Act to October 3, 2010. This extension is necessary to assist American families and stabilize financial markets because it will, among other things, enable us to continue to implement programs that address housing markets and the needs of small businesses, and to maintain the capacity to respond to unforeseen threats, as described above.
Now read that last part carefully. It says he's extending it for limited purposes of extending the mortgage modification program (which is a mess) and to encourage some more lending to small businesses, the ostensible reason President Obama invited fat-cat bankers to the White House on Monday. There is no provision for extending TARP for a jobs bill. It is quite simply fresh government spending, another stimulus package meant to cover up the fact that the money states took in last year was simply a one-year patch that was not followed by enough job growth to keep those people in jobs. From the Reuters report:

The bill would provide $48.3 billion for infrastructure projects that promise to get workers back on job sites by April. Highway construction projects would get $27.5 billion, while subway, bus and other transit systems would get $8.4 billion.

...The bill would also help cash-strapped state and local governments avoid layoffs of public employees.

States would get $23 billion to pay 250,000 teacher salaries and repair school buildings, and $1.2 billion to pay for 5,500 police officers.

States would also get $23.5 billion to help pay their share of federal healthcare programs for the poor.

The bill does not include two approaches backed by the White House: increased lending for small business, and funds to make buildings more energy-efficient, but Democrats say they plan to take up additional job-creating measures next year.

The bill also extends unemployment benefits and healthcare subsidies for the jobless for another six months, at a combined cost of $53.3 billion.

Italics added. Get that? We are using the TARP money for this spending, but we are not using it for the purposes that Geithner said he would keep TARP open, even when the Administration asks for it. Two months of the unemployment benefits are being attached to a must-pass defense bill in an act that stretches the word "germane" beyond any recognition.

We need a new word for pork that goes mostly to state and school district budgets: statefare. Goodness knows they're desperate for the cash. Will there be any Republican governors this time who say no?

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