Headlines today tell us that Senate centrists are trying to trim the massive spending bill that President Obama is pressing for. They may even have found as much as $90 billion in cuts already. But remember: This snowballing kitchen-sink bill has already grown by more than $100 billion since it left the House. A cut of $90 billion would be less than 10 percent of its now gargantuan girth. It would leave the bill larger than the $819 billion monstrosity that passed the House, which would already be the largest spending bill in the history of the world. (Barney Frank may be right that the total cost of the Iraq war will end up being more than the cost of this liberal wish list — though right now it looks like a close race — but there were actually many separate authorizations for the war, so this remains the largest single spending hike.)
Can we afford this bill? No we can't.
P.S. Don't miss Charles Krauthammer, "The Fierce Urgency of Pork," today:
It's not just pages and pages of special-interest tax breaks, giveaways and protections, one of which would set off a ruinous Smoot-Hawley trade war. It's not just the waste, such as the $88.6 million for new construction for Milwaukee Public Schools, which, reports the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, have shrinking enrollment, 15 vacant schools and, quite logically, no plans for new construction.
It's the essential fraud of rushing through a bill in which the normal rules (committee hearings, finding revenue to pay for the programs) are suspended on the grounds that a national emergency requires an immediate job-creating stimulus — and then throwing into it hundreds of billions that have nothing to do with stimulus, that Congress's own budget office says won't be spent until 2011 and beyond, and that are little more than the back-scratching, special-interest, lobby-driven parochialism that Obama came to Washington to abolish. He said.