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One Woman's Opinion

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On the Feast

Urbanna, Va.— This last month has given Americans the opportunity to witness “one party government” at work. With both houses in Congress and the White House controlled by Democrats, the last few weeks have reminded us why voters should be wary of one-party rule.

We saw elected representatives with little exception and with hardly any disagreement (which always frightens me), and few voices raised in question or even doubt over what the majority was doing, with a minimum of advice and consent, line up for the feast. In the end, we saw Democrats along with three Republican senators even vote to shut down all debate in the Senate.

by Mary Wakefield Buxton
We saw in proposed legislation, which initially held real hope of offering tax incentives and other government programs to encourage  business (rather than terrify business), gradually replaced with a shark frenzy of earmarks for pet projects back home.

That thing called “pork,” which we know and so dislike, had been added to the stimulus package to such an extent it took our breath away. It will probably be signed into law by the time this column goes to press, and we have not yet even had a real opportunity to look at it. Yet it will add another $10,000 worth of debt to every American for our children and grandchildren to pay off in future high taxes.

I have my doubts, as I wish more Senators did. I think America will get rolling again, no matter what Congress does. But I disagree with President Obama who told us that only government can solve our problems now. I think Americans solve problems . . . and in spite of government. We must never lose faith in this fundamental truth.

I got to thinking about the plethora of serious economic problems that face us and I came to the conclusion it is a good thing there is just one Congress. Suppose we had Congresses acting in every state and locality and township? (In fact, we do!)

Suppose in an effort to save the economy, all governments authorized billions of dollars in public spending, and just at a time when individual Americans realized that we needed to curtail personal spending and begin living within our means?

Suppose I, for instance, was a Congress and I had total freedom with no checks and balances to limit my spending and could spend as much money as I wished to “invigorate” Middlesex County economy?

Facetious? Perhaps. But imagining what I could do if I had the power with nobody to stop me in this little corner of the nation may illustrate the problem.

First, two givens. There would be a great deal of good and much-genuine need in my expenditures. Second, I would certainly mean well.

First, the sheriff’s department, rescue squads and fire departments would get new equipment and buildings, and I would grant the town administrator of Urbanna special favors, say a limousine and driver along with a fine new set of brass-buttoned uniforms.

Then, the teachers. Overnight they would enjoy raises and untold benefits, such as aides to help grade papers. And a teacher’s lounge to include a fitness room with all the best equipment, and a heated pool never to go below the temperature of 90 with a spa that would hover at 105, and a steam room to use during their numerous (joking!) breaks.

After I had done my duty to the public sector, I would turn my attention to others. Like a typical politician, might I also not pay back old friends and cronies?

For example, to the Deltaville Maritime Museum, a worthy institution, I might grant a few million for the study of flooding in low-lying areas in order to pay back some political favors? The money could finance a science lab, perhaps built on the museum grounds at Holly Point that would house a full staff of scientists to determine how to contain flood waters during a storm?

You get the idea. And not so very far-fetched according to some of the examples of government spending proposed in the 2009 tax stimulus program.

According to Fox News (when this column was written I had not been given the opportunity of seeing the legislation myself,  in spite of President Obama’s promise that we would see all proposed legislation), the present legislation contains, among other things:

  • $100 million for the Lead-Based Paint Hazard Control Grant Program.
  • $200 million to the Leaking Underground Storage Tank Trust Fund Program.
  • $300 million for “Violence Against Women Prevention and Prosecution Programs.”
  • $900 million for the IRS for the “Limitation on Administrative Expenses.”
  • $1 million to the Railroad Retirement Board for administrative costs.
  • $2 billion for the Drinking Water State Revolving Act.
  • $50 million for Health and Human Services to carry out injury prevention programs.
  • $1.1 billion for studies on the effectiveness of different medical treatments.
  • $200 million to upgrade labs and facilities for the Department of Agriculture “to improve workplace safety and mission-area efficiencies.”
  • $10 million for urban canal inspection.
  • $16 billion to pay for student financial aid.
  • $1 billion to pay for the U.S. Census.
  • $600 million to pay for a fuel-efficient federal auto fleet.
  • $650 million for the Digital Converter Box Program to help the constantly delayed transition from analog television.
  • $485 million to the Forest Service for “hazardous fuels reduction and hazard mitigation activities in areas at high risk of catastrophic wildfire.”
  • Up to $1 billion for “summer activities” for youths as old as 24.
  • $40 million for the occupational research agenda.
  • $3 billion for the Centers for Disease Control wellness programs and vaccinations.
  • $410 million for Indian health facilities.
  • $2.4 billion for carbon-capture demonstrations.

Of course,  there may be justification for  some of the above spending, but perhaps not in hard economic times such as this. Whether  such outlays of spending will bring about  any immediate surge in jobs  is open to debate.

For immediate jobs,  for relief to people out of work today, the best hope for  job opportunities in the near future is  government tax incentives to small businesses now to encourage expansion and new hires.

We were promised change in Washington, but it has turned out to be business as usual. Only this time we are sorely treated to one-party rush to the pork feast. ©2009.

posted 02.19.2009

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