As members of Congress headed out of town for the Christmas recess, they left behind some gifts for the taxpayers: The House passed a $155 billion jobs bill, a $1.1 trillion fiscal 2010 spending bill to fund operations of the federal government, and Sen. Ben Nelson’s deciding 60th vote on the Senate’s health-care bill.
A few observations about each gift might lessen your appetite for Christmas dinner, but it’s worth knowing the truth and avoiding a few calories as a bonus.
Since the $787 billion so-called stimulus bill spent on roads, bridges and “shovel ready” projects produced monthly 2009 unemployment rates ranging from 8.1 percent to 10.2 percent, and a reported 480,000 new jobless claims last week, it is safe to conclude that we cannot spend our way to prosperity.
Congress and the Obama administration believe we can, and that an additional $155 billion bill will be the economic surge we need.
That’s highly unlikely since they are spending the additional money on the same type of projects and government jobs for which the $787 billion was spent. Merry Christmas, taxpayers. We get some more ineffective spending of our money.
The $1.1 trillion for fiscal year 2010 (Oct. 1, 2009 – Sept. 30, 2010) is a 10 percent increase over fiscal 2009 to fund operations of the federal government. The annual federal budget has increased every year in this decade, and this is the highest of the decade. When most people are just happy to have a job without a raise because of the recession, Uncle Sam gives itself a double-digit increase. Merry Christmas!
Let’s not forget the increase in the national debt limit that Congress had to approve to accommodate the 2010 fiscal year increase, and to make its spending binge look legal for another red-ink Christmas using our credit card.
And, as if the spending was not sickening enough, Sen. Ben Nelson, D-Neb., has sold his 60th deciding vote for the Senate’s health-care bill. According to Patty Murray, writing for Politics Daily, Sen. Nelson got some changes to the abortion funding language, and a “favored state” Medicaid reimbursement rate for the state of Nebraska. Specifically, as Murray reports:
The new bill has the federal government permanently paying 100 percent of the cost to expand Medicaid in Nebraska, while other states will pay 2.2 percent of the price to expand the program to millions of uninsured Americans.
Of course, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid sees nothing wrong with sweetheart deals for Nebraska, Connecticut, Vermont, Louisiana and other states to pass a health-care bill the majority of Americans opposed. He calls it compromise.
I call it corruption and treason. The Constitution was never intended to be distorted to take from some states to give to other states. Nor was the intent to take from nearly half of the taxpayers and give to the other half.
Here are some other gifts the Senate gave us in their version of the health-care bill:
- A mandate that all individuals purchase health insurance by 2014
- Penalties for employers who do not offer insurance to their employees
- Medicare payroll tax increase of 0.9 percent on income over $250,000 annually
- A 21 percent cut in Medicare reimbursement rates for doctors starting in 2010
- A 40 percent “Cadillac” tax on high-dollar insurance plans starting in 2013
- Mandates on insurance companies, which means higher costs
The bill will have to survive a final floor vote in the Senate, and then be reconciled with the House version, which has already passed. Using taxpayer money to buy votes for final passage, anything can happen.
But there is one certainty. Combining two bad health-care bills equals one bad health-care bill. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., described it as “a legislative train wreck of historic proportions.”
That’s quite a gift to our grandchildren, who would certainly suffer the most.