AIP Column: Abandon Ship

posted at 10:11 am on June 4, 2009 by Ed Morrissey

In today’s column at American Issues Project, I take note of the fatalistic, shoulder-shrugging attitude Vice President Joe Biden demonstrated at the thought of Porkulus funds getting wasted by incompetence and fraud.  Instead of being outraged, Biden made it sound like he couldn’t really do much about it, or even cared to.  Does he not realize which branch of the government he serves now?

In this case, the Obama administration recognizes that people have perverted the use of their stimulus package, and sound almost completely disinterested in the fact. This money didn’t come from nowhere, although too many people believe it did. We had to sell bonds to raise the cash, on which we now have to pay higher yields, as investors trust us less with the money. We eventually have to redeem those bonds, i.e., pay the money back, and the money spent by the stimulus supposedly will put us in better position at the end than we would be without it.

Even if one accepts that as true – I certainly don’t believe it – the executive branch has the responsibility to ensure that the money gets spent correctly. If people are getting “scammed,” to use Biden’s word, then taxpayers expect the government to enforce the law and stop people from stealing our money.

Put it another way. The reason Obama and the Congressional Democrats insisted on spending almost $800 billion because only that amount of money would stimulate the economy. In fact, many of the Democrats in Congress complained that the package didn’t spend enough money, and that more was needed.

If any of that was true, shouldn’t the administration be demonstrating a zeal for compliance beyond anything we’ve yet seen? After all, in real dollars, this package outstrips what we spent on the entire Moon shot, all of the money spent on the war in Iraq, and it dwarfs the New Deal. In fact, it outstrips the New Deal and the Moon shot put together. They should have a large stake in it turning out well, but as Biden’s comment shows, they seem passive to the point of resignation about waste and fraud depleting their funds.

Why aren’t Biden and the rest of the administration terribly exercised about the potential for stimulus failure as the money gets wasted or stolen and as citizens get scammed?  I argue that they weren’t primarily concerned with stimulus anyway.  Their own economists predicted that the economy would recover regardless of whether the money got spent.

So why push it through?  Read my column for the answer.


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Biden shrugs.

MSM shrugs.

Atlas…

artist on June 4, 2009 at 10:15 AM

They aren’t concerned because the money was always meant to buy votes from their pet constituencies; it was never about creating jobs or stabilizing the economy.

You would have better luck getting the mafia to fess-up about where all of their money comes from and where it goes.

Bishop on June 4, 2009 at 10:18 AM

It is the “executive slush fund formerly known as the stimulus package.”

Right_of_Attila on June 4, 2009 at 10:18 AM

If any of that was true, shouldn’t the administration be demonstrating a zeal for compliance beyond anything we’ve yet seen?

Here’s what’s worse. If the press did manage to stop fellating Obama for a few seconds and ask him about this; the statement would be walked back and that would be the end of it.

Then again, when you are $63 trillion in the hole, $700 billion is a little more than 1% of that. So, really, what’s the big deal.

lorien1973 on June 4, 2009 at 10:18 AM

Not to worry… Murtha is looking into the waste as I write!

mankai on June 4, 2009 at 10:23 AM

So what you’re really sayin’ is…. People are messin’ with Joe?!?!

Ferris on June 4, 2009 at 10:24 AM

The left and the democrats are the biggest scam going. Scammers, fraudsters, thiefs, liars & crooks all line up behind the democratic brand because they know that is where the gravy train is. If there was no money in politics then people that line up behind the democratic brand would be in organized crime. Democrats = Organized Crime. And don’t forget the “Climate Change Mafia”. Al Gore is the Godfather of this racket. And that is what it is a racket. They package it with nice pretty pics and frilly rainbows but we know it is a brutal, ruthless enterprise chasing after the all-mighty dollar.

izoneguy on June 4, 2009 at 10:26 AM

Taxpayers: Are you sure this money will be in competent hands?

Biden: Certainly! We’re all incompetent

(Inspired by the three stooges)

Barrack on June 4, 2009 at 10:28 AM

I argue that they weren’t primarily concerned with stimulus anyway. Their own economists predicted that the economy would recover regardless of whether the money got spent. –Ed

Right.

They aren’t concerned because the money was always meant to buy votes from their pet constituencies; it was never about creating jobs or stabilizing the economy.

Bishop on June 4, 2009 at 10:18 AM

Right again.

petefrt on June 4, 2009 at 10:29 AM

What will be sad is the stories to be written in the future that wonder how this all happened (e.g., see housing bubble and internet stock stories for examples in the last decade of how this is done).

WashJeff on June 4, 2009 at 10:29 AM

I look forward to tomorrows unemployment numbers and an updated point on this graph.

WashJeff on June 4, 2009 at 10:33 AM

but at least biden was honest in his own gaffe-tastic way. none of the jerks in washington care what they do with our money.

kelley in virginia on June 4, 2009 at 10:35 AM

Biden shrugs.

MSM shrugs.

Atlas…

artist on June 4, 2009 at 10:15 AM

Atlas…. vomits.

stenwin77 on June 4, 2009 at 10:36 AM

What’s the deal with waste of money – we’ll make more!

‘sides, once you bought somebody, they stay bought.

Larry Farr on June 4, 2009 at 10:38 AM

“Bishop” is correct, Obama has only one purpose for all of our money and that’s to pay off his left wing supporters. Unfortunately, he was elected by the dumbest people in this country and they couldn’t care less.

rplat on June 4, 2009 at 10:41 AM

When do we get the Biden marketing going? I can see a clown doll that plays a different gaff each time you pull the string. How about a deck of cards with a variety of quotes, of course the trump suit would be “Don’t mess with Joe” so the players can all have a good laugh now and then. Maybe if we can have a little fun with this, it won’t be as depressing as the reality of this administration/regime.

InTheBellyoftheBeast on June 4, 2009 at 10:41 AM

I hate our government.

ladyingray on June 4, 2009 at 10:43 AM

. . . as Biden’s comment shows, they seem passive to the point of resignation about waste and fraud depleting their funds.

Look. It’s only money. And it’s not their money. So who cares? As pointed out by Larry Farr on June 4, 2009 at 10:38 AM, we’ll just make more!

OK, an analogy. Remember when you finally figured out that it didn’t matter whether you were in 8ft of water, 12 ft of water, or 100 ft of water? It was all the same once you couldn’t touch the bottom with your feet. Remember how liberating that was–getting over being scared of the deep end? OK, so Obama and company are similarly liberated. If the deficit is 3 trillion, or 20 trillion, or 63 trillion–once it’s more than you can pay back, as long as people will keep lending you the money, and you can service the debt–who cares?

/swallowing the vomit rising in the back of my throat.

smellthecoffee on June 4, 2009 at 10:49 AM

Interesting Joe – can we expect the same waste with GM, Chrysler, the Census, Pork projects, Nationalized Healthcare, Education, “Shovel ready”, banks, cap and trade, etc., etc…

Joe is like a short stop tipping off batters as to the pitches being thrown.

Odie1941 on June 4, 2009 at 10:54 AM

Of course the money is wasted. Anyone familiar with Milton Friedman’s Four Ways to Spend Money knew that would happen.

Here are the four ways to spend money:

a) Spend your own money on yourself. That’s the free market. When you spend your own money on yourself you’re very careful about how much you spend and you’re very careful about what you buy. You’re more likely get what you want at a price you can afford.
b) Spend someone else’s money on yourself. In that scenario you buy what you want and probably more than you need and care little about the cost. If you have an expense account that allows for a $50 lunch, you’ll probably buy a $50 lunch whether you really need it or not.
c) Spend your own money on someone else. You’ll be very careful about how much you spend, but you might not get exactly what the other person wants or needs. Go to a department store the day after Christmas and observe the length of the return lines to see how effective this approach can be.
d) Spend someone else’s money on someone else. You have no incentive to economize and you have no incentive to be careful about what you buy. You’re more likely to buy the wrong thing at an inflated price.

d) represents the government.

Throw in the fact that the goal of the government is not necessarily to do good, be efficient, or create economic success but rather to achieve political success with key factions and you know how you need to know about why government spending fails and is usually ripe with corruption.

PackerBronco on June 4, 2009 at 10:59 AM

Why aren’t Biden and the rest of the administration terribly exercised about the potential for stimulus failure as the money gets wasted or stolen and as citizens get scammed?

Obama vows to spend stimulus money wisely

Obama vows close scrutiny of stimulus spending

Obama vows to drive waste from stimulus plan

WASHINGTON (AFP) — President Barack Obama on Thursday pledged to ensure every dollar of his 787 billion dollar stimulus plan is well spent, as he rallied state officials charged with implementing the package.

WASHINGTON — President Barack Obama promised unprecedented oversight and transparency for the $790 billion economic stimulus bill Wednesday but acknowledged that not every local project funded will please critics who are predicting frivolous spending by local governments.

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. President Barack Obama vowed strict oversight Friday of his $787 billion stimulus plan, pushing back against Republicans who have labeled the centerpiece of his economic agenda fiscally irresponsible.

Weight of Glory on June 4, 2009 at 10:59 AM

I hate our government.

ladyingray on June 4, 2009 at 10:43 AM

Me, too.

califcon on June 4, 2009 at 11:00 AM

There needs to be a serious revolution…It is our obligation. This theft of our children’s futures cannot stand!

JAM on June 4, 2009 at 11:01 AM

Reviewing the list of AZ projects getting stimulus dollars, I came across $1.0M for updating the lights on a baseball field that is supposed to create 13 jobs.

Which begs the question: how many porkulus dollars does it take to change a light bulb?

DrW on June 4, 2009 at 11:01 AM

“Joltin’ Joe” may be the closest thing to a truth teller the Dems have, however inadvertantly he may go about it.

Akzed on June 4, 2009 at 11:02 AM

There needs to be a serious revolution…It is our obligation. This theft of our children’s futures cannot stand!

JAM on June 4, 2009 at 11:01 AM

Correct. We can’t wait until the next election, and even after that, it will take a long time to turn things around (as if that’s even possible at this point).

I would prefer to avoid bloodshed (especially the shedding of my own blood), so I would say that we need to “starve the beast” by “going Galt” as much as we can get away with.

UltimateBob on June 4, 2009 at 11:06 AM

Abandon Ship
By: Edward Morrissey

I’m glad you’re just plain “Ed” for us. :-D
Great article, though — time to write the Senators & Reps to ask them to push for accountability, I guess.

KS Rex on June 4, 2009 at 11:12 AM

I would be shocked if i didn’t already have such a low opinion about politicians in general and democrats in particular.

Bunch of pieces of sh!t every last one of them in washington at the moment.

BillaryMcBush on June 4, 2009 at 11:13 AM

There needs to be a serious revolution…It is our obligation. This theft of our children’s futures cannot stand!

JAM on June 4, 2009 at 11:01 AM
Correct. We can’t wait until the next election, and even after that, it will take a long time to turn things around (as if that’s even possible at this point).

I would prefer to avoid bloodshed (especially the shedding of my own blood), so I would say that we need to “starve the beast” by “going Galt” as much as we can get away with.

UltimateBob on June 4, 2009 at 11:06 AM

I Agree! The sooner, the better!!!

HomeoftheBrave on June 4, 2009 at 11:16 AM

Meet the VP of the USA: Alfred E. Newman

kirkill on June 4, 2009 at 11:20 AM

Why aren’t Biden and the rest of the administration terribly exercised about the potential for stimulus failure as the money gets wasted or stolen and as citizens get scammed?

Because they’re part of the fraud mechanism.

Speakup on June 4, 2009 at 11:21 AM

OK, Ed….

What you are saying is that “Sheriff Joe” is really Barney Fife.

Dr.Cwac.Cwac on June 4, 2009 at 11:27 AM

“What will be sad is the stories to be written in the future that wonder how this all happened (e.g., see housing bubble and internet stock stories for examples in the last decade of how this is done).

WashJeff on June 4, 2009 at 10:29 AM”

History is written by the victors. In this case, the victors have academia and the press on their side. We are living in the Hell imagined by George Orwell. The stories that will be written will portray only the glory of “The One” and his majestic triumph over capitalism and white man’s greed.

Star20 on June 4, 2009 at 11:41 AM

Sheriff Joe isn’t concerned because they’re paying off IOU’s.

GarandFan on June 4, 2009 at 11:41 AM

The reality is government is too large to manage much effectively, and the goals of this “program” have no measureable outcome other than how much was spent.

Where it went and what it did, comapred to what the pols promised, is nothing they want to discuss in detail. It was a fraud from the beginning and everyone inside knew it.

A real post-mortem or vigorous audit effort to measure true accomplishments would end up in indictments, for honesty and intelligence if not outright self-dealing, fraud and theft, up the food chain all the way into the Oval Office.

Bama can’t stand that, personally or professionally. Nevah happen. It’s another part of being a pantywaist professional politician.

Harry Schell on June 4, 2009 at 11:42 AM

Alfred E. Biden: What, me worry? Eight hundred billion of waste and fraud, the people getting scammed? It cost more than the moon shot?

Relax, everyone, it’s only paper. We’ll just print some more. It’s only a paper moon shot.

Steve Z on June 4, 2009 at 11:44 AM

Reviewing the list of AZ projects getting stimulus dollars, I came across $1.0M for updating the lights on a baseball field that is supposed to create 13 jobs.

Which begs the question: how many porkulus dollars does it take to change a light bulb?

DrW on June 4, 2009 at 11:01 AM

A million dollars to change light bulbs? Maybe that’s why Arizona baseball players have diamonds on their backs!

Steve Z on June 4, 2009 at 11:47 AM

We had warning signs about this.

Whatever snapped, snapped in the last 10 years or so.

Remember Hurricane Katrina? The Superdome was the site of 10,000 murders a day! Most of them babies!

Congress sprang into action and threw billions of dollars to issue $2000 cash cards to every man, woman, child and pet in Louisiana. No time for debate!

I heard tell the dispensation and circulation of these cash cards was an object lesson in government waste. Of course, by today’s standards, it would hardly make a blip.

jeff_from_mpls on June 4, 2009 at 11:48 AM

Can someone explain to me what is going on with the DOW? Much like the political climate of today, up is down, down is up. For example, last Friday the DOW closes at 8,500. On Monday, GM (on the DOW) files for bankruptcy, it’s shares go below a dollar and the DOW gains 221 points at the close. To me, the psychology doesn’t match the moves; up or down. I’m starting to wonder where a lot of the TARP and Porkulus money is going. In fact, I’m wondering if the Gubmint is playing with that money in the markets. Are there any scenarios where they could be doing this covertly?

MarkABinVA on June 4, 2009 at 11:50 AM

white man’s greed.

Star20 on June 4, 2009 at 11:41 AM

“White man’s greed runs a world in need.” Hmm, where have I heard that before?

MarkABinVA on June 4, 2009 at 11:53 AM

There needs to be a serious revolution…It is our obligation. This theft of our children’s futures cannot stand!

JAM on June 4, 2009 at 11:01 AM

The government needs to fear the people. Only then will they even pretend to show leadership for the benefit of all the people and for future generations. This government does not fear the people and doesn’t need to. The fellating media is avoiding, obfuscating and outright lying. Without their skeptical questioning of the administration, the electorate will believe that things are OK or at least moving toward OK, even while we are limping (sprinting?) toward serfdom. The media is paid to observe and report the truth. They observe and withhold the truth and are thus complicit in the push to subjugate the citizenry to a crushing debt and reliance on the party in power to “fix” the problem. They accept that the problem is the fault of the Bush administration (it certainly is in part) and that Ogabe is doing everything he can to correct it. The people accept this because the media tells them it is so and in the meantime the opposition party opposes nothing and stands for nothing.
Of the 535 members of the House and Senate, how many truly revere the constitution, see the monumental disaster ahead and are willing to stand against it? One percent, two percent, five percent? The rest of them are in it to retain and grow their own power.
As I’ve said before; I have no faith that the electorate will, given a real choice, do the right thing in 2010. I pray each day that I am wrong. But without the guardians of truth telling the truth, I am quite certain that I will be proven (sadly) right.

SKYFOX on June 4, 2009 at 12:14 PM

Ennui is the wrong word for this. Ennui is a laxidaisical lethargy exhibited by someone who is bored and who could give a rat’s ass about anything at all. Biden is a crack addled marmoset and in no way laxidaisical. The word you are seeking is Terminal Dumbassedness.

BrideOfRove on June 4, 2009 at 12:27 PM

Star20 on June 4, 2009 at 11:41 AM

OK, now I’m seriously depressed.

VelvetElvis on June 4, 2009 at 12:28 PM

Inept, incompetent, thieves, irresponsible, absurd, thieves, corrupted, insane, thieves.

What are adjectives to describe Obama, his administration, and Congress.

capejasmine on June 4, 2009 at 12:33 PM

Ha, I don’t even need to read Ed’s article to know the answer to why spend all this money. It’s real simple. When you bankrupt the people, the people have to depend on the government.

Now about that revolution: I keep waiting for it to start. I’ll do just about anything legal if it will really make a difference. I’m tired of talking, discussing and cussing.

All politicians are indeed pieces of garbage. The people need representatives not crooked, corrupt, self serving, politicians.

katablog.com on June 4, 2009 at 12:42 PM

What does one expect from a stooge that was incubated and grown in our corrupt political system? The man could not attain or hold a job with responsibility, yet through his Democratic connections is wealthy, and set for life no matter what mistakes his comrades make with tax dollars. I imagine Joe must get a good laugh out of life. He can say or do whatever comes into his pointed head, and still get reelected and richer.

Joe Biden is an allegorical figure of everything wrong with our over sized government. He is the ‘good old boy’, he is the ‘white men’s club’, he is everything that Democrats make America believe Republicans are…..and get away with it very neatly indeed.

Hening on June 4, 2009 at 1:02 PM

Isn’t Biden supposed to be the “Enforcer”? What happened to all those tough statements about not tolerating waste and holding everyone accountable? I thought nobody was going to “mess with Joe”?

2nd Ammendment Mother on June 4, 2009 at 1:19 PM

the goals of this “program” have no measureable outcome other than how much was spent.

Harry Schell on June 4, 2009 at 11:42 AM

Best line of this thread. Hands down.

PackerBronco on June 4, 2009 at 2:07 PM

So much for “don’t mess with Joe”. Add that to the expired promises list.

jnelchef on June 4, 2009 at 3:56 PM

I look forward to tomorrows unemployment numbers and an updated point on this graph.

WashJeff on June 4, 2009 at 10:33 AM

I’m one of those employment numbers myself. Good to know I’m not alone.

Sekhmet on June 4, 2009 at 4:19 PM

Why should I read more Ed when Ed thinks Hussein’s Mooslim speech in Cairo was pretty good? I’m over it.

leftnomore on June 4, 2009 at 9:31 PM