Conferees agree on stimulus bill
To the surprise of almost no one, the Senate passed their version of the "stimulus" bill on Monday, by a vote of 61-37. The three moderate Republicans voted along with the Democratic majority: Sen. Arlen Specter, Sen. Olympia Snow, and Sen. Susan Collins. They are nice people and probably mean well, but in my view are deeply mistaken about the alleged need for this massive boondoggle. President Obama has grossly oversold the efficacy this package, which is a grab-bag of Democratic wishes, and the urgency of the country's economic situation. We do need a stabilization and recovery plan, but the way they are going about it is extremely wasteful, and politically pernicious.
This evening, the members of the House-Senate conference committee resolved most of the differences between their respective stimulus packages, which means it will probably come up for a final vote in both chambers tomorrow. Or maybe not. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi kept contradicting each other this afternoon, so there are a few wrinkles left to be ironed out. See CNN.com. Most objective-minded pundits now agree that any pretense that Obama's stimulus package is "bipartisan" has vanished. Some payback to Obama's supporters is to be expected, but they are trying to get away with way too much.
Investors on Wall Street gave a big thumbs-down to the stimulus package and to the irreplaceable financial whiz kid who is slated to run it: Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner performed badly in congressional testimony today. As reported in the Washington Post:
Minutes after the plan was made public, stock markets plummeted. The Dow Jones industrial average ended the day down 4.6 percent. The Standard and Poor's 500-stock index, a broader measure, fell 4.9 percent.
It's a very sad week for American capitalism, and for the broader cause of individual freedom and personal responsibility. What investors need is assurance that they can earn a steady (if small) profit, and it will be hard to do that while the private business sector is coming under the control of Washington. Speaking of which, I agree wholehearted with President Obama's insistence that any bank or corporation that gets federal bailout money should limit executive compensation to no more than $500,000 per year. It's the price you pay for going on "welfare"...
Just vote NO
It's not like Congress would have listened anyway, but you can still weigh in the the stimulus package at Country First PAC. It seems to be a continuation of the McCain 2008 campaign. Hat tip to Stacey Morris.
Politicizing the Census?
President Obama's gesture of bipartisanship in naming Senator Judd Gregg (R-NH) to be the Secretary of Commerce was rather suspect to begin with, but now it's looking outright sinister. Obama wants to take responsibility for managing the 2010 census away from the Department of Commerce, which has statutory responsibility for that vital function, and run it out of the White House. Presumably, the ultra-partisan Rahm Emanuel would be calling the shots. If true, such outright politicization of the Census Bureau would do great damage to the tradition of professional integrity in the Civil Service, and would call into question the official census figures. For more, see samizdata.net; hat tip to InstaPundit. Now we'll find out what "community organizing" means when it comes to counting people!
RSS glitch fixed, again
FOR THE RECORD: Today I realized that I had messed up in the blog post from Feb. 4 (seven days ago), which caused a glitch in my RSS feed, so I corrected that, including the original date stamp.