Disappointed by Brown's vote on jobs bill
by Barbara Anderson

The Salem News
Thursday, February 25, 2010

"There is no practice more dangerous than that of borrowing money; for when money can be had in this way, repayment is seldom thought of in time, the interest becomes a loss, exertions to raise it be dent of industry cease, it comes easy and is spent freely, and many things (are) indulged in that would never be thought of if (they were) to be purchased by the sweat of the brow."
George Washington

The national debt is now $12.4 trillion, not including the $108 trillion in unfunded federal liabilities. So is it entirely unreasonable, especially on Washington's birthday, to expect that one's representatives in Congress would vote no in response to a new government spending proposal?

Apparently it is. The Father of Our Country didn't understand that saying no is partisan and, well, negative. So this past Monday, Feb. 22, the U.S. Senate voted 62-30 to close debate on a $15 billion "jobs bill," effectively ensuring its passage. Our new U.S. senator, Scott Brown, explained his "yes" vote on his Facebook page:

"I came to Washington to be an independent voice, to put politics aside, and to do everything in my power to help create jobs for Massachusetts families. This Senate jobs bill is not perfect. I wish the tax cuts were deeper and broader, but I voted for it because it contains measures that will help put people back to work.

I was disappointed with the continuation of politics-as-usual in the drafting of this bill, as it was crafted behind closed doors, without transparency and accountability. I hope for improvements in that process going forward. All of us, Republicans and Democrats, have to work together to get our economy back on track. I hope my vote today is a strong step toward restoring bipartisanship in Washington."

You're not the only one who's disappointed, Scott. Good luck with that hopey-changey thing or "improvements in that process going forward."

Here is what the Washington-based Center for Fiscal Accountability said about the bill last week while urging a "no" vote: "Both the surface transportation reauthorization and the Build America bonds have less to do with job creation than with misguided priorities and handouts to labor unions and local governments. The extension Build America bonds will leave taxpayers to pay the tab for decadeslong interest buydown, while the extension of the expiring highway funding authorization disregards the underlying problems with financing transportation programs. Extensions would not be necessary if transportation spending wasn't riddled with waste and fraud."

Never mind. Reaching out on WRKO on Tuesday, Brown assured his supporters that the $15 billion wouldn't increase the national debt. We're told that the package just authorizes a one-time transfer of $19.5 billion from the general fund to the highway trust fund.

Isn't the general fund running a deficit already? So, if you take out $19.5 billion for spending elsewhere, doesn't this increase the general fund debt?

Brown said that the bill will create jobs, cheerfully assuming that these new jobs will generate enough new government revenues to fill that new gap. He was apparently assured of this by Harry Reid when the Senate majority leader "stepped out of church to call me and ask me to look at (the bill) personally."

I wish we had all had a little more time to look at it. I understand the argument about frivolous filibusters, intended to stop bills that the minority party doesn't like, but the Senate debate on the "jobs bill" was scheduled for 2 p.m. and the vote to shut down debate came at 5:30 p.m. Three hours isn't much of a filibuster.

We could discuss this more intelligently if the debate had lasted into two days, with media coverage the second morning that would have given us the pros and cons of the bill.

That "transparency and accountability" that Brown wishes had occurred would have been helpful, too.

Never mind. There is speculation that during the "church-break" conversation, Brown got something worth his vote perhaps his proposed payroll tax deduction. We'll know soon. And at least we know he will vote against the much more expensive health care bill, don't we?

Regardless of what Brown does in the Senate, it's important for activists not to feel disillusioned about political activity this year. If Reid does go along with Brown on his better job creation idea, and open up those closed doors when crafting bills, it will be only because he is afraid of his own voters in Nevada, and the other senators are afraid of theirs.

We should set aside unrealistic expectations of our representatives, yet hold them accountable for their campaign promises.

With his vote for the Democratic "jobs bill," the wildly inappropriate fawning over Brown may be replaced by watchful waiting.

Peggy Noonan, speechwriter for President Reagan, once wrote that we should "never fall in love with politicians" because they will inevitably disappoint us. Then she fell in love with Barack Obama in 2008.

We understandably need our leaders to make us proud. This year we need to take pride in our own activist determination to save our country from those who, in the past, have let us down.

The comments made and opinions expressed in her columns are those of Barbara Anderson
and do not necessarily reflect those of Citizens for Limited Taxation.

Barbara Anderson is executive director of Citizens for Limited Taxation. Her column appears weekly in the Salem News and other Eagle Tribune newspapers; bi-weekly in the Tinytown Gazette; and occasionally in the Lowell Sun, Providence (RI) Journal and other newspapers.

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