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House passes pork-filled appropriations bill – $410 billion

Less than 36 hours after the bill was released to the public, the Omnibus Appropriations Act of 2009 passed through the U.S. House of Representatives along party lines. 36 hours. Yeah, sure… the public – and even congress – had plenty of time to review 1,122 pages of pork.

Click here to read our previous post with details from the bill.

Let’s be clear about my definition of pork. If you can not find authorization to spend the money in the United States Constitution, it’s pork.

Does CNN currently have the news on their home page? How about CBS News? NBC? ABC?

Nope, gotta get the news from bloggers, Fox News and Yahoo News. Is there a concerted effort to hide these types of appropriation bills and release them to the public about one day before voting on them? Looks to be the case.

The Democratic-controlled House pushed through a $410 billion measure Wednesday that boosted domestic programs, bristled with earmarks and chipped away at policies left behind by the Bush administration.

The vote was 245-178, largely along party lines.

Republicans assailed the measure as too costly — particularly on the heels of a $787 billion stimulus bill that President Barack Obama signed last week. But Democrats jabbed back.

“The same people who drove the economy into the ditch are now complaining about the size of the tow truck,” said Rep. James McGovern, D-Mass., pointing out the large increase in deficits that President George W. Bush and GOP-controlled Congresses amassed.

From the GOP side, Rep. Jeb Hensarling of Texas said the legislation was “going to grow the government 8.3 percent … but the family budget which has to pay for the federal budget only grew at 1.3 percent last year.”

Hot Air, Gateway Pundit and Malkin are all on it. Of course the spin is that there are no earmarks. Bull feathers.

Up next? How about a $700 billion “reserve” fund for health care provided by the feds over the next ten years.

Updated 2009 appropriations bill – $430 billion

As noted yesterday, I figured it would take less than 24 hours for a draft of the new House appropriations bill (H.R. 1105) to show up, and we’ve found it and have it here.

Hat tip to Sister Toldja who provides a link to the scanned draft [PDF, 13mb]. It has been posted on the House documents file server.

Update: Here is the Omnibus Appropriations Act, 2009 as posted on the Library of Congress site. It is in Web format. Here is the new PDF formatted version [PDF, 2mb] of H.R. 1105, it is different than the scanned draft I reviewed this morning. The draft PDF link above is still available for background.

Here are excerpts from the summary documents [PDF, 56kb]. It all sounds so good, but if these items are federal responsibility, what is not their responsibility? Note that there are more details in the full bill, but it is 1,122 pages long.

  • Up to $10 million shall be made available for a United States contribution to the Least Developed Countries Fund to support grants for climate change adaptation programs and activities (p. 932 in the full bill)
  • Not less than $195 million for biodiversity programs in developing countries (p. 932 in the full bill)
  • $29.8 million for the Minority Business Development Agency
  • $3.1 billion to count the number of people in the United States (Bureau of the Census) (p. 89). Note that just counting the people is not enough, politicians need to know exact information on “population groups.” Remember, the census means it’s time to gerrymander the state districts and tweak them so incumbents (Democrats) can keep their seats. Why can’t we just count everyone?
  • $1.5 billion for Amtrak
  • $2.5 billion to make repairs and improvements to public housing
  • $550 million for community policing efforts
  • $73 million to fight meth
  • $240 million for economic development assistance
  • $390 million for legal assistance to people who can not afford it
  • $1.2 billion for international food aid
  • $160 million to provide food to people in need
  • $6.9 billion for WIC programs to provide food to mothers and kids
  • $175 million for research and development of solar energy
  • $217 million for biofuels
  • $273 million to improve vehicle fuel efficiency
  • $2 billion to study global climate change
  • $6.5 billion for scientific research at colleges and universities
  • $200 million for insulation and energy conservation measures for low-income families
  • Another $178 million for climate change research (fighting global climate changes is mentioned many times with multiple dollar amounts)
  • $110 million for small business development centers
  • $106 million for grants to states to ensure reliable, accurate and accessible elections (hah, hah)
  • $245 million to explain the tax code to people
  • $20 million to improve Washington D.C. public schools
  • $39 million to compensate for security costs of national events including the recent inauguration
  • $310 million for the National Endowment for the Arts and Humanities
  • $30 billion for research into diseases
  • Almost $500 million for childhood immunizations
  • More than $40 billion for Pell Grants, student financial aid, Head Start and child care assistance
  • $1.5 billion for training those who recently lost their jobs
  • $810 million for meals for senior citizens

Note: I have removed the previous list from the draft since we now have the up-to-date legislation. I had put together most of the post based on the draft, but this post has been re-written during the day with updated info from H.R. 1105.

What can you find? Add what you find in HR 1105 to the comments section below. Provide a brief description, cost and page number.

$1 trillion not enough – another $500 billion in the works

Since everyone seems to be falling over looking for money from the government and the Democrats control both the Executive and Legislative branches, Pelosi and crew are gearing up for more pork spending.

HR 1105 has been written up, but Democrats are sticking with the playbook refusing to post the bill online for review by the American public. I guess they figure if the PDF is not posted, they will not have to deal with all of those stupid questions from the masses.

We’ll probably see it in the next 24 hours or so, but the House leadership wants to slam it through this week.

The appropriations bill first was brought up late last year, but Democrats held off off bringing the first porkaluza to the floor and wait to see what happened after the election. From CQ Politics

House Democratic leaders released a $410 billion omnibus spending measure Monday, as the White House convened a summit on fiscal responsibility.

The bill (HR 1105) comprises the nine fiscal 2009 appropriations bills that stalled last year amid a standoff between congressional Democrats and the Bush administration. The Senate is expected to take up the bill late this week or early next week.

The fiscal year began Oct. 1, but Democrats chose to wait to complete the appropriations work until President George W. Bush was out of office because he was threatening to veto the spending measures, arguing they cost too much. Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., referred to the bill Monday as “unfinished business of last year.”

Most of the funding would go to domestic agencies, as the bills funding the Defense, Homeland Security and Veterans Affairs departments were signed into law in September. The rest of the government is being funded through a continuing resolution that expires March 6.

The bill, which is roughly $410 billion, would be about $30 billion, or 8 percent, more than was spent on the nine bills in fiscal 2008. It is expected to move quickly through the House because Democrats hold a large majority. But passage through the Senate is expected to be more arduous.

We’re talking another half-trillion in pork here.

Hinderaker at Power Line sums it up quite well as he reflects on Obama’s pledge to eliminate earmarks (cough, cough) and notes the irony of releasing some information of the spending at Obama’s Fiscal Responsibility Summit (cough, cough).

Pigs will fly–to use a metaphor that seems apt under the circumstances–before Barack Obama will do anything to rein in the irresponsibility of Nancy Pelosi, Harry Reid, and their accomplices among Congressional Democrats.

Update: Malkin has some details…

Hill staffer Tom Jones is going through the omnibus spending bill with a fine-tooth comb, and Twittering his earmark findings, including:

* $200,000 for “Tattoo Removal Violence Prevention Outreach Program,” pg. 283;

*Maine lobster earmark in the omnibus, pg. 173;

*$5.8 million earmark for the “Ted Kennedy Institute for the Senate…for the planning and design of a building & an endowment,” pg. 232;

*and National Council of La Raza, $473,000 earmark from Sens. Bingaman and Menendez, pg. 212.

800 Billion Reasons To Be Worried

So who gets the money from the Porkapalooza … Reason on line … did the homework. Ughhh. Make sure you read it all … but here’s a sample.

1. Billions of dollars in spending exclusively devoted to benefit federal employees.

  • $5.5 billion for making federal buildings “green” (including $448 million for the Department of Homeland Security’s headquarters)
  • $198 million to design and furnish the DHS headquarters
  • $200 million for workplace safety in Department of Agriculture facilities
  • $75 million for the Smithsonian Institution
  • $300 million more for hybrid and electric cars for federal employees (see below) (oh there’s more)

2. Wasteful spending that is not directly targeted at federal employees:Arguably the best item in the Senate bill is a $1,500 tax credit to anyone that purchases “neighborhood electric vehicles”—also known as golf carts. The total estimated cost of that giveback is $300 million. Purchasers of motorcycles and three-wheelers shouldn’t despair, however, as there are benefits available for them, too. (Oh there’s more)

3. Tax cuts and tax breaks that don’t deliver anything close to real reform.

Make sure you read the whole thing.

Obama order represents payoff to unions

Here come the payoffs. Whether you think the government spending $1 trillion-plus to stimulate the economy is the right or wrong thing, there is absolutely no reason why President Obama should shut out non-union labor from even bidding on any of the stimulus package pork dollars.

But that is exactly what he has done.

Here is the story from the AP.

President Barack Obama on Friday issued an executive order backing the use of union labor for large-scale federal construction projects.

The order encourages federal agencies to have construction contractors and subcontractors enter project labor agreements. Those agreements require contractors to negotiate with union officials, recognize union wages and benefits and generally abide by collective-bargaining agreements.

Obama’s order restores a Clinton administration order that was revoked by President George W. Bush.

It is the fourth union-friendly executive order that Obama has signed since he’s been in office, and one of about a dozen orders put in place by Bush that labor leaders have urged Obama to repeal.

“Project labor agreements are a win-win for everyone involved,” said James Hoffa, president of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters. “Contractors get highly trained, skilled labor with fixed costs, and workers are fairly compensated with their rights and safety protected.”

But the Associated Builders and Contractors, a trade group, said the order would unfairly steer federal construction contracts to unionized contractors despite the fact that 84 percent of U.S. construction workers do not belong to labor unions.

ABC president Kirk Pickerel said the effect would “drive up costs for American taxpayers” by reducing competitive bidding on projects.

AwWin-win Hoffa? I can’t find anything good about this since many of the large non-union business will not be able to get one contract. This is simply a pay-off to the unions, that will drive up the costs of projects and slow them down.

As noted, this is one of those executive orders that switch back and forth depending on which party is running the Executive Branch.

One quick thing. When whitehouse.gov was launched, there was a section called Executive Orders under the Briefing Room. Now that section is called Presidential Actions.

Here is a direct link to the order. Since federal dollars will be spent at the local level on these projects, my bet is that they will be considered federal projects and will need to have union labor.

More from Gateway Pundit.

Homework assignment. What percentage of the unionized workforce work for the government?

Breaking down the current Senate porkapoluza

I don’t remember seeing so many details about a bill being reported in the press. Then again, the stimulus bill is so damn big, I guess it’s not too hard to pick out all of the spending items and create a list or two. We tried it here, but just did not have the time to pick through everything.

One of the best high-level summaries about what is included in the current Senate version – which many do not think will pass in it’s current form – is from National Review Online writers Stephen Spruiell and Kevin Williamson. The piece is entitled 50 De-Stimulating Facts.

Short on time here in the Sydney airport, here’s the opening paragraphs. Read the entire article to see the list which is broken into categories including Various Left-Wingery, Poorly Designed Tax Relief, Stimulus for the Government, Income Transfers, Pure Pork, Renewable Waste and, Rewarding State Irresponsibility.

Senate Democrats acknowledged Wednesday that they do not have the votes to pass the stimulus bill in its current form. This is unexpected good news. The House passed the stimulus package with zero Republican votes (and even a few Democratic defections), but few expected Senate Republicans (of whom there are only 41) to present a unified front. A few moderate Democrats have reportedly joined them.

The idea that the government can spend the economy out of a recession is highly questionable, and even with Senate moderates pushing for changes, the current package is unlikely to see much improvement. Nevertheless, this presents an opportunity to remove some of the most egregious spending, to shrink some programs, and to add guidelines where the initial bill called for a blank check.

Porkapalooza Updates

Update: Things not going well for Harry Reid. Fox just reported that Harry is looking for just 3 Republicans to join him and is targeting well Snowe and Collins … but so far they will not cave. Looking for more head on over to Michelle’s site here.

We now return you to last night’s post.

Michelle Malkin is running updates on Republican Senators who may be ready to cave and vote for the Porkapalooza. It’s close … real close.

Wish they could all be like this. “This process stinks.”

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=egbvUfqA-Z4

Oh and if you are one of those who thinks “well something has to be done … it’s a crisis!”, read the following and remember how well they spent the first $350 billion.

President Obama’s economic recovery package will actually hurt the economy more in the long run than if he were to do nothing, the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office said Wednesday.

CBO, the official scorekeepers for legislation, said the House and Senate bills will help in the short term but result in so much government debt that within a few years they would crowd out private investment, actually leading to a lower Gross Domestic Product over the next 10 years than if the government had done nothing.

The Porkapalooza Details

The Sound Off Brother sent me this link last night. It is well worth the read. But here’s a sample.

• $2 billion earmark to re-start FutureGen, a near-zero emissions coal power plant in Illinois that the Department of Energy defunded last year because it said the project was inefficient.

• A $246 million tax break for Hollywood movie producers to buy motion picture film.

• $650 million for the digital television converter box coupon program.

• $88 million for the Coast Guard to design a new polar icebreaker (arctic ship).

• $448 million for constructing the Department of Homeland Security headquarters.

• $248 million for furniture at the new Homeland Security headquarters.

• $600 million to buy hybrid vehicles for federal employees.

• $400 million for the Centers for Disease Control to screen and prevent STD’s.

• $1.4 billion for rural waste disposal programs.

• $125 million for the Washington sewer system.

• $150 million for Smithsonian museum facilities.

• $1 billion for the 2010 Census, which has a projected cost overrun of $3 billion.

Now this is the kind of stuff that really helps main street, huh?

News Flash: STDs are a stimulus too

Barney “Fannie and Freddie Are Not A Problem” Frank, noted banking expert and mortgage specialist, explains to Obama adviser George Stephanopoulos how all that money for STD prevention ($335 million) is a stimulus.

As a bonus, FFANP Frank explains how tax cuts never saved a firefighter’s or police officer’s job. Only Government spending can do that. True, FFANP, true. But only thriving businesses that are not downing in tax liabilities can generate the revenue to send to Washington, so Washington can send it back to the cities topay for the city jobs with the money generated by the business. Whew, I should get an Obama fist pump for that.

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5bDLioq3A7s

Ya know … it acutally makes more sense than Nancy Pelosi on birth control. I think.

Stimulus plan includes adding 1.2 million to Medicaid roles

Instead of dealing with nationalizing health care out in the open, the Obama stimulus plan takes the incremental – but significant step – to add more than one million Americans to the Medicaid roles if they are unemployed, or will soon be unemployed. This plan also includes millionaires who were laid off and not only expands COBRA coverage, but pays for 65 percent of the COBRA coverage!

When I began reading this article in the Wall Street Journal, I kept thinking about the COBRA program, which allows employees to carry their previous insurance for 18 months if they get laid off or another life change event occurs. The employer does not cover the cost of the premiums, but instead, the employee is able to continue coverage by paying the premium the employer was paying during employment. Confusing isn’t it?

Let’s just get rid of that confusion by having the federal government pick up 65 percent of the COBRA premiums!

From Kimberley Strassel’s post in the WSJ, with my emphasis in bold.

Under “stimulus,” Medicaid is now on offer not to just poor Americans, but Americans who have lost their jobs. And not just Americans who have lost their jobs, but their spouses and their children. And not Americans who recently lost their jobs, but those who lost jobs, say, early last year. And not just Americans who already lost their jobs, but those who will lose their jobs up to 2011. The federal government is graciously footing the whole bill. The legislation also forbids states to apply income tests in most cases.

House Democrat Henry Waxman was so thrilled by this blowout, it was left to Republicans to remind him that the very banking millionaires he dragged to the Hill last year for a grilling would now qualify for government aid. His response? A GOP proposal to limit subsidies to Americans with incomes under $1 million was accepted during markup, but had disappeared by final passage. In this new health-care nirvana, even the rich are welcome. CBO estimates? An additional 1.2 million on the federal Medicaid dime in 2009.

The “stimulus” also hijacks Cobra, a program that lets the unemployed retain access to their former company health benefits — usually for about 18 months. The new stimulus permits any former employee over the age of 55 to keep using Cobra right up until they qualify for Medicare at age 65. And here’s the kicker: Whereas employees were previously responsible for paying their health premiums while on Cobra, now the feds will pay 65%. CBO estimates? Seven million Americans will have the feds mostly pay their insurance bills in 2009.

Wow. This is not stimulus, this is welfare!

Hot Air and Power Line are on it too.