Needlessly Amplifying the Price Tag of the Bailout
In the last hour of his show today, WPRO’s Matt Allen discussed the shopping list [sorry, no link] of additional spending which Congressman Patrick Kennedy announced today that he wishes to attach to the seven hundred billion dollar bailout, a sentiment presumably shared by many other congresspersons.
Is the congressman’s shopping list dwarfed by the size of the bailout? Undoubtedly, though it starts to add up to “real” money when up to five hundred and thirty four other shopping lists are thrown in. More troubling is the mindset revealed.
One is an obliviousness that the federal budget is – or ought to be! – finite. Vast though the budget has grown, seven hundred billion is still a lot of money. And while there is optimism that the federal government may break even or possibly profit many years down the road, the only certainty is that taxpayers would be on the hook for quite a large sum of money with no guarantee that it would all work out in the end, especially if the bailout began to experience mission creep.
Secondly, in view of the finite nature of the budget, individual congresspersons and Congress as a whole should be giving thought to “what are we cutting out of the budget going forward so we can write this gargantuan check” and even, “this is not our money so let’s make the check as small as possible”. The “what spending can I add to this gargantuan check that will get my vote and get me votes” approach taken early on by the congressman from Rhode Island’s first district is entirely the wrong attitude when signing a sizeable check to be drawn on someone else’s account.