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Obama on $410 Billion Spending Bill: That’s Just Change

March 4, 2009

The omnibus spending bill that is said to be necessary “to keep the government running” beyond September includes thousands of earmarks the cost of which amounts to $7.7 billion according to Taxpayers for Common Sense, $12.8 billion according to the Washington Times and $3.8 billion according to Democrats. (But let’s not quibble over a few billion dollars more or less. It’s not as if this money was going to be spent by the greedy business types in which case Senator Kerry would lick his pen preparing to outlaw a few more business strategies.) With Democrats complaining non-stop about ‘Bush’s’ deficit, the economic crisis, earmarks a hot-button issue and some voters probably ready to attempt an experiment in letting the bill fall under the table to stop government for a while and see if that’s really so bad you might think that this would mean certain death for the bill. Pas vraiment.

We know that, back when he was still a senator with little experience and a short and mysterious bio (which he published in book form twice, though), Monsieur Obama was an adamant opponent of earmarks. At least this is what you would infer from the campaign pledges he has made. Enter the pork-filled omnibus spending bill that has ‘fiscal irresponsibility’ written all over it – so much so that even the New York Times writes that M Obama should veto it. So what does President Transparency do? Does he promise to block the passage of the bill and to set a clear signal to all who still doubt that when he speaks about cutting spending and balancing the budget he really means it? Ah, if you think the answer is yes, then you are underestimating the über-presidenciness of President Obama. You see, according to the White House the omnibus spending bill is a ‘bushdidit’ and bothering with the “failed policies of the past” is so last year. Said the White House budget chief: “We want to just move on. Let’s get this bill done, get it into law and move forward.” Or as Obama’s chief of staff puts it: “That’s last year’s business.”

If you ignore the talk and look only at the action it is no big surprise that President Obama plans to nonchalantly sign a $410 billion spending bill, no matter how many embarrassing earmarks are included. The package is after all little more than a tiny version of the so-called stimulus bill (although no one can really say for sure because no one has read it). It’s really a sign of consistency: in Obama’s world there is no problem to which increased government spending is not the answer. That’s one thing to rely on. In fact, when he passes the ‘failed policies of the past’ bushdidit omnibus spending bill it’s probably Obama’s way of trying to instill confidence in markets, private households and America’s trading partners. “Don’t worry!”, is the message, “You can extrapolate all my future actions from my current actions: I promise I will not stop spending!” He also lives the confidence by example: whatever rocks are laid in his way they won’t deter him. A few hundred billion dollars more or less are no obstacle, the bushdidit omnibus spending bill is to Obama what a flee is to the leviathan.

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