Skip to main content

Commentary: Stimulus bill a sorry spectacle

  • Story Highlights
  • Jack Cafferty: 1,073-page bill was passed before Congress could read it
  • He says Congress violated pledge to make it public 48 hours before vote
  • Cafferty: Some provisions enable leaders to grab pork for their districts
  • He says the tax cuts in the bill may be too small to get the economy moving
  • Next Article in Politics »
By Jack Cafferty
CNN
Decrease font Decrease font
Enlarge font Enlarge font

Editor's Note: Jack Cafferty is the author of a new book, "Now or Never: Getting Down to the Business of Saving Our American Dream," to be published in March. He provides commentary on CNN's "The Situation Room" daily from 4 to 7 p.m. You can also visit Jack's Cafferty File blog.

Jack Cafferty

Jack Cafferty says the House violated a pledge to make stimulus bill public 48 hours before vote.

NEW YORK (CNN) -- What a joke. Your Congress has voted to spend almost $790 billion of your money on a stimulus package that not a single member of either chamber has read.

The 1,073-page document wasn't posted on the government's Web site until after 10 p.m. the day before the vote to pass it was taken. I don't care if you're Evelyn Wood, you can't read almost 1,100 pages of the lawyer talk that makes up all legislation in eight or 10 hours.

The criminal part of this boondoggle is divided into two parts. The first is the Democrats promised to post the bill a full 48 hours before the vote was taken to allow members of the public to see what they were getting for their money. Both parties voted unanimously to do this ... and they lied.

It didn't happen. Why am I not surprised? Congress lying to the American people has become part of their job description. They can't be trusted on anything anymore.

I'm sure part of the reason there was no time for the public to read the bill was the 11th-hour internecine warfare between House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid.

When Reid first announced the compromise had been reached, Nancy Pelosi was nowhere to be seen. And it would take an act of God for this egotistical, arrogant woman to miss a photo op where she could take credit for anything. But she wasn't there.

She summoned Reid to her office, where unnamed sources said she blew her top over some provision for schools that she wasn't happy with. Pelosi's snit delayed everything.

It's really too bad President Obama couldn't figure out a way to jettison these two who are poster children for everything that is wrong in Washington. The Associated Press called the birth of the stimulus bill "sausage making" in the best tradition of Washington politics as usual.

The second part of the crime is the contents of the bill itself. Far from being only about jobs, infrastructure and tax cuts as promised, the stimulus bill stimulates a bunch of other stuff as well. Eight billion dollars for high-speed rail lines, including a proposed line between Las Vegas and Los Angeles. This little bit of second story work wasn't even in the House version of the bill. iReport.com: So many things to do, what would you fix first?

It started in the Senate as a $2 billion project, and came out of the conference committee costing a whopping $8 billion. Gee, now who would that benefit? Oh yeah, the Senate majority leader is from Nevada.

Filipino veterans, most of whom don't live in the U.S., will get $200 million in compensation for World War II injuries. And: $2 billion in grants and loans for battery companies, $100 million for small shipyards and a rollback of the alternative minimum tax at a cost of some $70 billion.

The AMT provision is much-needed legislation, but it doesn't belong in the stimulus bill. It forced other things out so Congress could keep to its self-imposed $800 billion cap.

And when it comes to the tax cuts contained in the stimulus bill, experts have determined they will amount to about $13 per week after taxes for the average American. I'm not sure how much stimulation $13 a week buys. It depends on the neighborhood.

The biggest problem of all is the stimulus bill may not be nearly enough. And if the president has to come back asking for more, the next time might not be so easy.

So far, we have an anemic stimulus bill and some sort of vague proposal from the secretary of the Treasury to deal with the banking crisis -- a proposal that landed with a thud last week -- as the two first steps toward solving a financial crisis that is threatening to take down the country.

Obama better step up his game, or it's going to be a short four years in office.

The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of Jack Cafferty.

All About Harry ReidNancy PelosiBarack Obama

  • E-mail
  • Save
  • Print
Quick Job Search
keyword(s):
enter city:
Home  |  World  |  U.S.  |  Politics  |  Crime  |  Entertainment  |  Health  |  Tech  |  Travel  |  Living  |  Money  |  Sports  |  Time.com
© 2014 Cable News Network. Turner Broadcasting System, Inc. All Rights Reserved.