Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Things Not To Do With The Spending Bill Windfall

You know there are enough "earmarks" in the new Omnibus spending bill (Buses? Omnis? I thought we were supposed to be doing the "Buy American" thing? Why are we buying Omnis? Do we need buses?) that when you start to realize the scope of it all, you really want to hang yourself and the sooner the better. But before you go reaching for the rope and that book on how to tie knots (the noose is a surprisingly tricky knot to master! And you really need to get that one down if you want to get good use out of it.) perhaps we should look at some things that are not in the bill.

Actually, not so much "not in the bill", but moreso things that the money cannot be spent on as specified by the bill. Now, some of the things that the freshly minted money cannot be spent on concern me only because it has to be spelled out that those things cannot be done. I'd like to think that someone wouldn't be spending the money on those things in the first place. (But then again, I'd also like to think that this trillion dollar debt is going to save us rather than doom us and I'm no where near that mindset.)

Let's see what we can't do. And yes, it's "we" who can't do these things. It's "our" money, so I have to assume they're talking to "us" when they're laying down the rules like this. Now, back to spending our future. Ahem....
  • We can't use any of the funds for the Justice Department budget to pay for an abortion. (And if that stipulation would present a conundrum for you, I suggest you do a little reading about what is supposed to be going on over there at the Justice Department.)

  • We're not allowed to rent VCRs or video tapes for Federal prisons. (VCRs?! When did they write this stipulation? 1987?)

  • We can't put a label that says "Made in America" on your product if it really wasn't "Made in America". (Oh, now if there were only a provision that says that our Representatives can't say that they did not earmark money for a specific pet project, only to find out that they did but they just called it something different.)

  • We can't use any of the funds to support or justify torture. (How, exactly, would the funds be used for this purpose? The supporting or the justifying? Picket signs? Large placards? Bell ringers with sandwich boards? I don't get it.)

  • We can't use the funds "to authorize or issue a national security letter in contravention of any of the following laws authorizing the Federal Bureau of Investigation to issue national security letters." (That from the Redundant Department of Redundancy Department. What the hell? I'm supposed to trust that those folks can manage all of this money and make correct decisions when they can't even write out a coherent sentence?)

  • None of the funds can be "used for the maintenance or care of private vehicles except for emergency assistance and CLEANING as may be provided under regulations relating to parking facilities." (Cleaning. Cleaning?! So, no using MY money to clean the government's vehicles unless it's an emergency or if it has water spots?!)

  • We're not allowed to use the funds to distribute syringes. (I wouldn't know where to get any to distribute in the first place. Nor do I know anyone for whom to distribute them to. So, done!)

  • You cannot stop the Mayor of the District of Columbia for addressing the issue of the provision of contraceptive coverage of health insurance plans (so don't even try!).

  • None of the funds can be used to travel to visit relatives in Cuba. (See, this is one of the ones that makes me wonder why we had to specify that you can't go visit your relatives in Cuba with the Federal Spending Bill money. I can only assume that it has happened at least once that someone knows of and they just want to cover all of the bases in the future, even if those bases are in Havana.)

  • The United States Mint cannot open a museum. (Were they TRYING to open a museum?)

  • We are not allowed to redesign the $1 Federal Reserve Note. (WHAT?!?! But the drawings! The engravings! The plates! My God, the plates! Do you know how long I've been anticipating redesigning the $1 Federal Reserve Note? Hours at least! What about the $5? Is the $5 off limits. IS there a $5?)

  • We are also not allowed to drain Lake Powell. Good to know. (Guess I can return that hose to Home Depot now.)

  • Nor are we are not allowed to "offer for sale the timber from trees classified as a giant sequoia." (Sequoiadendrom giganteum, for those of you keeping track).

  • And furthermore, we are not allowed to "import any ruminant or swine that is fresh, chilled or frozen if it comes from Argentina." (It's the Argentinian ruminants of chilled swine that's really been a problem in this country. We MUST get a handle on it! Soon!)

And that's just the beginning. The beginning of things that we cannot do with stimulus money. What I'm waiting for is to see what they can do with the stimulus money. Not "what's allowed", but what the money can do, can accomplish. Because this is an awful lot of money that we're talking about here, so by God, it had better do something other than sink us into a quicksand-like bog of debt

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