Monday, February 16, 2009

Why Are American Taxpayers Eating So Much Pork? It's Not Even Labor Day

On Saturday, President Obama hailed congressional approval of a $787 billion economic stimulus bill, which the White House said he would sign on Tuesday. Only three Republicans voted for the measure in the Senate, and no Republicans broke ranks to support it the House, arguing it had too much spending and not enough tax breaks. The final plan was split into 36 percent for tax cuts and 64 percent in spending and other provisions.

According to The Centrist, the current Stimulus Plan will have 'A trillion dollars of pork barrel spending . Other sources put the amount closer to $25 billion in narrow provisions that Republicans deem "questionable or non-stimulative.

Here Are Some Of The “Non-Stimulative” Items

$355 million for education related to sexually transmitted diseases
$200 million to monitor earthquakes and volcanoes
$50 million for National Cemetery monument repairs
$200 million to repave the National Mall
$276 million for new computers at the State Department

Looking at this, I wonder, does anyone in Washington get it? The American public is being told that economy is in dire straights and that the US now has a record deficit of $250 billion--to which the Stimulus Plan will most certainly add. Now, I’m convinced our Government had to do something to help the failed economy, but to tack billions of dollars of pork-barrel pet spending projects onto an emergency bill meant to save Americans is simply incorrigible.

When President Obama went to office, he went with the mantra of “change.” Yet, here we have this bill laden with excess special interest spending that doesn't have a thing to do with stimulating the economy.

Shouldn't the President have threatened to veto this bill if it included any unnecessary spending? Shouldn't' he veto the Stimulus Bill until all the pork is taken out? I think he should--that would be true change, true courage, and most certainly not “politics as usual.”

Do you feel he should have vetoed this bill? Do you feel he did the right thing? What can be done now to account for this money?


theWatchList said...

I agree that it should be vetoed.

In addition to the special interest related spending, I'm also concerned about the negative effect the "Buy American" rules will have on the economy for the long-term.

On the surface, buying American sounds great. But if the money is going to be used to prop up greed then what is the point.

Look at the US auto industry (this stimulus plan includes at least 300 million for buying new hybrid vehicles to replace government fleet vehicles)... If we keep searching for ways to inject money into their pocketbook, how will they ever learn to trim the fat and try to run competitively?

Iam Robert said...


Thanks for taking part in the discussion!

You mention that the Buy American Act provision would be bad for the economy in the long term. How so? In your experience as a business owner, what type of greed have you seen it used to support? One aspect of this you didn't mention is how hard it is to find ANYTHING that is made in this country anymore.

I also strongly agree that independent businesses should "make it or break it" on their own within market forces only. Shucks, I'm still stinging from the first rounds of Wall Street and bank bailouts where the money was used to pay for lavish parties and bonuses for CEOs.

One thing I didn't cover and perhaps you can shed light on is the "immigrant factor." How do you feel the stimulus jobs(which are mostly in the construction industry) will be affected by the illegal immigrant workforce? If at all.

theWatchList said...

The greed it supports is the greed that shows up when you artificially limit the number of players in the market place. I hope that we tax payers don't end up paying for a golden hammer to pound golden nails into a golden 2x4.

As for why there are so few products made in the US anymore... It's hard to live the American Dream when there are people competing for our jobs wanting to live a different dream. We simply can't compete in the global market place if we expect to maintain a standards of living that is 20 times that of those who we are competing with.

Your question about the immigrant factor ties into my statement above in a way. I'm sure there will be illegal immigrants who get some of these jobs. That's just the way it is and I'm not overly concerned about it.

A bigger concern for me is what is happening now in my state (and probably others) and how they are handling displaced workers from certain industries.

They are giving people free IT training because some outdated survey says the are lacks IT workers. It simply isn't true though. I'm an IT Director for a decent sized company and I have talked to other people in similar positions in my locale.

The problem I foresee is that the people who got student loans and went to school and paid for training are now having to compete with a large influx of workers who got trained on the tax dollars those other kids earned while working to pay for school. Compete for jobs that weren't even there in the first place...

And the folks who do have a job could be in jeopardy of losing their job for to these new workers that might be willing to take less money because they 1) have been unemployed for some time causing them to be a little desparate and 2) got trained and certified on the latest and greatest.

It's late and I'm rambling so this probably doesn't make sense. Plus I took at least one trip on the tangent train. Anyways, I've enjoyed reading your blog and will definitely be checking back.

Iam Robert said...


Yes, there is always a danger when one limits competition however, many of the stories of "over inflated" contract awards are just that and were really the product of the US using old government specifications as opposed to Performance Work Statements.

So, as a business owner, I guess you're saying that Americans can't have it both ways: i.e. cheap goods made here in the US and high wages to make them. That makes sense. Do you think Americans would be willing to compromise, especially when CEOs are getting million dollar bonuses at failed companies?

As far as immigrant workers, I'm concerned if one undocumented alien gets a job, then sends the money back home, over an American citizen--of any color.

Now, I hadn't thought about student loans in this way. And you're absolutely right, this does put them at an unfair advantage and this is unfair! Perhaps there should be stipulations that upon graduation, they would work at a certain salary level or where states and cities have the most need.

Again, all great comments ~ as usual.

thewatchlist said...

Sorry for taking so long to reply back to your follow up to my follow up.

I am still sticking to my over inflated contracts theory. Head over to your local Chevy dealership for proof. Chevy's Aveo (their lowest sticker price vehicle) is 70 to 80% Korean parts and the vehicle is assembled in India and shipped back to the US. Honda and Toyota ship parts to the US for assembly.

I haven't seen newer numbers, but a report published in Forbes in 2006 showed that union workers at the Big 3 made about 50% to 60% more than their counterparts at US Honda and Toyota plants.

On the question of if Americans being willing to compromise on the high wages vs cheap products made in the USA, I don't think we have a choice in the long run. It's going to painful (worse than it is now) if the mindset doesn't change.

Years ago when manufacturing started leaving, the thought was that America would shift to primary service industry type jobs and we'd all be knowledge workers. It was quite foolish of us to think such a thing considering how our education ranks compared to the rest of the industrialized world. Once the emerging nations showed that they could be a cheaper source for our knowledge-based jobs, there went a good chunk of those jobs.

As for CEO pay, we Americans are out of control. CEO's have become rock stars and stock holders need make their voices heard (either by voting at meetings or by letting go of those stocks). Part of that problem might be that too many people (investors and executive boards alike) care more about quarterly profit reports than they do long term viability.

As for the undocumented workers sending money out of the country... I'm 100% with you on that. Unfortunately our government doesn't seem to mind. The government seems to rarely punishes companies who hire undocumented workers. If it's companies who are b2b supply chain manufacturers breaking the rules, it's even difficult to attempt to boycott products.