The United States Senate yesterday afternoon passed the largest spending bill in history by a 61-37 straight Democrat party-line vote, assisted by only three so-called Republican senators: Susan Collins and Olympia Snowe of Maine and Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania. 216 out of 219 Congressional Republicans opposed this immense spending bill that will cost the American taxpayers nearly $1.3 trillion dollars as passed by the Senate.
The Congressional Budget Office estimates a price-tag of $838.2 billion, $18.7 billion more than the House-passed bill, and would cost an additional $368.9 billion to service the debt.
The bill went back to the House after yesterday’s vote to be further porked-up in conference by House Democrats David Obey (Wis.), Charlie Rangel (N.Y.), and Henry Waxman (Calif.). Also from the House side, Republican conferees are Dave Camp of Michigan and Jerry Lewis of California. The Senate conferees are Democrats Harry Reid (Nev.), Max Baucus (Mont.) and Daniel Inouye (Hawaii) along with Republicans Charles Grassley (Iowa) and Thad Cochran (Miss.) — all sitting around one big table trying to reconcile the House and Senate bills.
The huge spending bill will next emerge as a Conference Report that must once again pass both chambers (in the Senate by a 60-vote margin). According to Reid, the vote on final passage could happen as early as Friday.
Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) was not as optimistic, saying the negotiations could bleed well into next week. “Thursday, Friday, Saturday, Sunday, Monday and Tuesday and maybe Wednesday and Thursday next week may be needed to pass the stimulus bill,” Hoyer said.
There are stark differences between the House and Senate bills and what the American people actually want, not that the latter seems to be in any way a consideration in this Democrat-led Congress — although the calls continue to jam phone lines on Capitol Hill.
Sen. Arlen Specter (RINO-Pa.) released a statement yesterday saying he would not vote for any Conference Report that made changes to the structures and ratios the Senate worked out in its so-called compromise legislation. “My support for the Conference Report on the stimulus package will require that the Senate compromise bill come back virtually intact including, but not limited to, overall spending, the current ratio of tax cuts to spending, and the $110 billion in cuts,” Specter said.
“I’m shocked that any senator would say ‘that’s the bill we passed, take it or leave it,’” Hoyer said. Yet Democrats are keenly aware that final passage depends on at least two of the three RINO votes from Specter, Collins and Snowe and, of course, the Democrats holding their line.
This could be a ray of good news for Republicans and the large majority of the American people who oppose this obscene spending bill. In my view, the more argument and discord the better.
Socialized Medicine Hidden in Bill
I asked House Minority Whip Eric Cantor (R-Va.) on Tuesday if House Republicans would address in conference the revelation by Bloomberg News on Monday (Ruin Your Health With the Obama Stimulus Plan ) that the foundations and action items for the government takeover of healthcare were secreted deep in the rotting bowels of the 778-page Senate bill.
Cantor told me, “The comparative effectiveness issue has been around for quite awhile and it makes the case again that its insertion in to this bill demonstrates that the focus has not been on job sustaining and creation. This is not a job sustaining and creating provision. Some support the notion that we ought to go down the pike of allowing CMS [Centers for Medicaid and Medicare Services] now determine what kind of treatment takes place for a particular kind of patient and determine his or her doctor. That’s the kind of discussion we can have in regular order — that’s a discussion that needs some airing — but it doesn’t belong in a stimulus bill.”
I asked Cantor if Republicans would effort pulling this in conference. “I’m hopeful, certainly it’s on our list of objections,” Cantor said. “If we’re talking stimulus, why are we doing this? It’s not a decision of doing something or doing nothing, it’s about being smart and getting it right. That has no business in a stimulus bill.”
Geithner Maps Out TARP III with Little Detail
Treasury Secretary and serial tax evader Timothy Geithner Tuesday afternoon gave a vague outline of his proposal for TARP III, yet another massive outlay of money to bail out banks with a price tag of up to an additional $2 trillion. This estimate is up over $1.5 trillion from the $500 billion first estimated last week. This is also completely separate from our growing list of additional spending this fiscal year including the half-trillion dollar omnibus spending bill, a likely additional supplemental in the billions for Obama’s plans in Afghanistan and Iraq and the upcoming tens of billions for the Auto Workers Union disguised as the Big Three Automakers bailout.
The Obama administration, in yet another Orwellian move, did change the doubleplusungood name of the program from TARP [Targeted Assets Relief Program] to the Financial Stability Plan. As Geithner outlined this very vague “stability” plan, the stock market fell by 3% and ended the day down nearly 400 points.