My mama used to tell me over and over and over that I couldn't borrow my way out of debt. She was right you know, but I have never quit trying. It seems like I have a lot of company these days, including everybody's favorite uncle - Uncle Sam.
Congress has been wrestling all week over a so-called stimulus package. The president has proposed that we spend somewhere in the neighborhood of $800 billion to create jobs and jump-start the economy - $800 billion should buy an awfully strong set of jumper cables if you ask me.
Part of the charm of the stimulus package is supposed to be that we will improve the infrastructure while getting this economic plunge we are experiencing reeled in - sort of like the New Deal did back in the '30s. Of course, there is just one little bitty problem with that analogy. The New Deal didn't end the Great Depression. If you don't believe me, you can look in any history book. The economic indicators were as bad or worse in 1940 as they were in 1933 when FDR took office.
The Japanese did more to bring us out of the depression than all of the WPA projects combined - but that's another story for another day.
We were talking about the stimulus package. One of the things that we were promised when this whole notion was first mentioned - we being you and me, the American people, the ones who will foot the bill (it is our $800 billion, you know) - was that all the money would go toward creating jobs and none of it would be spent on giveaways, entitlements or pork spending. No patronage in this bill! No sir!
If you believed that, you probably believe the guy who says, "I'm from the government, and I'm here to help you."
You think there wasn't any wasteful spending in the bill the House passed last week? Well let's look at an item or three and then I'll ask you the same question.
Let's see. There was $335 million in the bill for "prevention of sexually transmitted disease." Primarily, the government intends to purchase condoms. You suppose that money will be distributed in quarters? And Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi insisted that we would save money down the line because of this earmark because all the births they prevented would save on public services to the families of those children. Goodness gracious sakes alive! Giving out $300 million worth of condoms might stimulate something, but it won't be the economy.
They want to spend $200 million for sod on the National Mall. You reckon all the folks laying that sod will be hard-working Americans? You don't think they'd slip a little of that money to any illegal aliens, do you? Now I realize that nobody around here hires undocumented workers to lay sod, but they might not be as careful up there in D.C. as we are around here.
The House bill allocates $650 million for digital television converters. Since when is supplying folks with television reception the job of the U.S. government? Remember, y'all. The government doesn't hold car washes and bake sales to raise funds. The only way they have to get money is to borrow it or take it away from you and me in the form of taxes. How do you feel about the government spending your money on condoms and cable converters?
A third of the package would go to states to spend on Medicaid and education, which is supposed to be the responsibility of the states. And guess which states would get that money? The ones who have done the best job of managing those programs? Lord no! The ones who have done the worst!
How many jobs will be created with those funds? Probably about as many as will be created by giving $50 million to the National Endowment for the Arts - or the $250 million in tax breaks the House bill offers Hollywood studios. Of course they owe Hollywood big time, so you can see why that item was in the bill.
According to folks who are a lot better at math than I am, if this bill becomes law the government will spend $275,000 for each $50,000 job it "creates." You don't have to have a degree from Georgia Tech to know that's a bad plan.
Of course everyone who opposes the bill will be accused of trying to stop progress and keep the new president from being successful, but that's just not the case. The folks who oppose the bill will be trying to represent the interests of the people who sent them to Washington in the first place.
"This package will set a new standard of accountability and transparency. The people will know where their precious tax dollars are going. There will be no pork in this stimulus package."
Barack Obama promised that on Jan. 6.
Our national debt is $10 trillion. If this plan passes, it will be $11 trillion.
My mama was right. You really can't borrow your way out of debt.
Darrell Huckaby is a local educator and author. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.