Backfilling the Stimulus Spending; “Who really knows?”
And in a sentence, posted by Kevin Boland, we have the perfect summary of the government stimulus program:
Ed Pound, the director of communications for the Obama Administration’s “stimulus” website (recovery.gov), dropped a bombshell in interview with the New Orleans Times Picayune, stating that the Obama Administration has no idea how phantom congressional districts – such as Ohio’s 00th or Louisiana’s 26th – received “stimulus” funds. The Times Picayune story reported:
‘We’re not certifying the accuracy of the information,’ said Pound ….Asked why recipients would pluck random numbers – 26, 45, 14 – to fill in for their congressional district, Pound replied, ‘who knows, man, who really knows. There are 130,000 reports out there.’
Boland goes on to describe several of the myriad examples of error, misstatement, and probable fraud associated with “creating and saving” jobs. Marc speculated, the other day, about the location of Rhode Island’s lesser-known Congressional districts. At this point, what should be coming into focus for every clear-eyed American is that the “stimulus” was little more than a scam to insulate the government from the effects of the downturn. For a further indication of that reality, look to Stephen Spruiell’s National Review exploration of the relationship of the Obama White House with the Service Employees International Union (SEIU):
The stimulus bill was a top priority for SEIU because it contained massive bailouts for state governments and Medicaid. As mentioned above, states such as California, New York, and New Jersey have expanded their social-welfare systems beyond what they can afford, in response to pressures from SEIU and other public-sector unions. At the same time, their progressive income-tax structures have made them especially vulnerable to boom-and-bust cycles. When the credit bubble burst, these states were looking at massive deficits, layoffs, furloughs, and budget cuts. The stimulus bill included a $50 billion slush fund for state governments and $90 billion in Medicaid expansions, helping the states avoid a necessary round of belt-tightening and tax reform.
Witness the inevitable theft that big government perpetrates against the nation’s people, and unions have a critical role to play. Spruiell notes elsewhere that hospitals receiving federal money are barred from lobbying the government… but the union whose members benefit mightily from those same dollars are not.
This sort of shadow structure will not fail to emerge when a single entity is empowered with the federal government’s broad control over every other aspect of the society. They’ll lobby. They’ll bully. They’ll launder. They’ll lie about their intentions and then throw together phony explanations for what they’ve done. They’ll crush the United States for their own narrow interests.
I’ve said before that among the greatest advantages of blogging to a mixed audience is that one is more likely than not to have errors or inadvertent stretches corrected. In that vein, a commenter in a subsequent post that refers to the above called me on the statement about hospitals receiving federal money being barred from lobbying the government. Going back to my initial citation, I see that I paraphrased the following poorly:
SEIU’s corporate campaigns, however effective, are nothing new. Stern’s real breakthrough came when he realized that labor could offer a carrot as well as a stick Around 50 percent of SEIU’s members work in the health-care industry as nurses, hospital attendants, and lab techs. The facilities that employ such workers benefit from a number of government programs. SEIU’s pitch was simple: Let us organize your workforce, and we’ll use our lobbying power to push for increased government spending on health care.
It worked. Fred Siegel and Dan DiSalvo recently observed in The Weekly Standard that, “under the brilliant leadership of Dennis Rivera, [SEIU Local] 1199 built a top-notch political operation, and with the hospitals, which were barred from political activity, formed a partnership to maximize the flow of government revenue.” The alliance has been so successful, they wrote, that New York now spends as much on Medicaid as California and Texas combined. Rivera now serves as the SEIU’s point man on national health-care-reform legislation, with over 400 union staff members working full time at his disposal. Sen. Chuck Schumer called him “one of the few key players” shaping the final bill.
In essence, I joined concepts that were only related: The union offers lobbying clout, but the political activity from which hospitals are barred probably doesn’t have to do with the federal dollars that the lobbying seeks, but rather with such things as bans on non-profit political activities. My understanding is that unions are not so restricted.
So, the statement in specific was incorrect, but the point remains valid. To the extent that government restrains the employer in political activity and speech, while leaving unions exempt from those restraints, the union and the government gain leverage versus the productive organizations.