UPDATE: The stimulus package has passed cloture, meaning it received more than 60 votes, so the debate ends. This is a procedural vote so it doesn’t mean the bill has passed, it simply means that debating on the bill has come to a close.
The vote was 61-36, the three GOP senators that were part of the compromise talks voted to end debate. They were Olympia Snowe, Susan Collins, and Arlen Specter. The final vote on the bill will come tomorrow, I think everyone expects it to pass along party lines, with the exception of Snowe, Collins, and Specter.
Bloomberg published a startling number today.
$9.7 trillion. That’s how much the U.S. taxpayers are in for if this stimulus plan passes the Senate.
For all the visual learners out there that’s $9,700,000,000,000. That’s a lot of zeros. That’s also enough to pay off 90% of the nation’s home mortgages and enough to pay off about 90% of our total national debt.
The worst part is only about $1.7 trillion of that large sum has been approved by elected officials.
Only the stimulus package to be approved this week, the $700 billion Troubled Asset Relief Program passed four months ago and $168 billion in tax cuts and rebates approved in 2008 have been voted on by lawmakers. The remaining $8 trillion in commitments are lending programs and guarantees, almost all under the authority of the Fed and the FDIC. The recipientsâ€™ names have not been disclosed.
So the Fed and FDIC, who aren’t elected officials, have guaranteed $8 trillion of our money to failed institutions. And from the looks of Wall Street and banks right now, it doesn’t appear to be working. So what’s the solution? Well, in the government’s twisted world they use the mantra, if at first you don’t succeed, try, try again.
The New York Times is reporting that TARP II is on the way, and it’s a whole helluva lot fatter than TARP version one or the stimulus.
This week, President Obama and his Treasury secretary, Timothy F. Geithner, will prepare the country for the next, and far more difficult, step: another attempt to fill the huge hole blown in the center of the nationâ€™s financial system.
No one has yet put a price tag on that effort. But the administrationâ€™s diagnosis of what went wrong with the first attempt to right the financial system â€” that it was too small, and that the problem has ballooned in recent months â€” suggests that the next effort will almost certainly entail a far bigger commitment of taxpayer dollars than the $350 billion left from last yearâ€™s $700 billion effort to right the system, and probably far more than the stimulus package.
How stupid can one system be. Let me remind everyone of the government’s track record on the economy in the past year.
-Summer rebate checks. Result: Failed miserably, people saved the money instead of spending it
-TARP I Part A ($350 billion). Result: Banks misspent the money, Washington slammed them, banks continued to collapse
-TARP I Part B ($350 billion). Result: Banks continued to misspend the money, Washington slammed them, banks continue to collapse
-Auto Bailout. Result: Automakers GM and Chrysler have continued to layoff workers, will say they need more money in their report due February 17.
So things haven’t been going too good for Washington. But instead of realizing that their spending doesn’t have much of an effect on the economy, they decided the reason nothing worked was because it was all too small.
If $9.7 trillion is too small, what’s just right? $12 trillion? $20 trillion? At what point does Washington realize they don’t have the money to spend. We went into this economic mess already in debt, we never had money to spend in the first place.
Meanwhile Obama is attempting to drum up support for the stimulus and TARP II by doing the only thing he knows how to do, give a stump speech.
Obama is traveling to Elkhart, Indiana where he will hold a town hall meeting about the stimulus package. Don’t get me wrong, I like the idea of taking this issue to the people (after all it’s their money) but Obama, and every other politician in Washington, have shown no respect for taxpayer money; why should we listen to anything he has to say?
The reason I dislike the idea of Obama traveling to Elkhart is because I can already predict what the scene will look like. And if I’m wrong I’ll call myself out on it.
First, he’ll be standing either in front of a sign that says “recovery and reinvestment for America” or he’ll have a podium that says something along those lines. He’ll give a speech, probably won’t take any questions, and it’ll be filled with the same rhetoric and fear he’s spewed over the last several days. And of course he’ll have a teleprompter. I predict that Obama will talk at the crowd, not with the crowd.
Maybe I’ll be wrong, I kinda hope I am, but Obama is in his element giving speeches and he’s never been good with direct questions from an audience. And this is not the time to be fumbling with answers.
Whatever Obama says today in Elkhart, and however it is presented, doesn’t really matter in the grand scheme of things. After Obama’s speech the stimulus will still be too large and TARP II will Congressional fist fight waiting to happen.