Freshman Blue Dog offers a new START

Rep. Walt Minnick (D-ID) decided to reverse engineer the Obama-Pelosi-Reid Porkulus Bill to see if he could find anything worth rescuing.  In doing so, Minnick devised a stimulus plan that limits itself to real stimulus, rather than bloating itself into an omnibus pork package.  It costs only $170 billion, and self-terminates when the economy recovers:

While President Barack Obama goes on the road to shore up slipping popular support for the $1 trillion stimulus porkfest that he ordered up from Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Rep. Walt Minnick, a freshman Democrat from Idaho, is pushing a better idea: The Strategic Targeted American Recovery and Transition Act (START).

Minnick is a member of the Blue Dog caucus of occasionally conservative Democcrats. His START plan is a $170 billion “bare bones” pure stimulus approach that would put $100 billion immediately into the pockets of low- and middle-income Americans, then use the other $70 billion for basic infrastructure projects that create jobs. START requires that all funds not spent by 2010 be returned to the Treasury. START also stops stimulus spending when the nation’s Gross Domestic Product increases in two of three previous quarters, and all START payments are required to be posted on a public website.

Minnick introduced START as an alternative – just in case the legislative process stalls out, says press secretary John Foster. As one of the brave 11 Democrats who voted against Pelosi’s stimulus bill, Minnick explained to folks back home that he opposed the speaker’s version because it was so “Christmas-treed up” with wasteful spending, like  $300 million for golf carts. Foster told The Examiner that the House leadership encourages members to do what’s best for their districts, so there has been no backlash. We’ll see how long that lasts.

This should change the debate, if it gets any attention from the media — which it won’t, outside of The Examiner.  The media appears too interested in carrying Barack Obama’s water for at least a little while longer.  Note that no one at last night’s press conference even bothered to challenge Obama’s assertion that Republicans had offered anything but a do-nothing approach, despite several proposals for much more expensive stimulus package than what Minnick proposes here.  What happened to keeping government honest?

If they bothered to cover Minnick, the media would have to report that a Democrat managed to scrape off 5/6ths of the current stimulus package in fat and waste.  Minnick eliminated almost $700 billion from the current compromise bill in the Senate by just focusing on true stimulus spending and limiting the scope of the bill to a single year.  That should get some attention, if not to boost Minnick’s proposal, then at least to do some comparisons between the two packages to highlight the pork-barrel spending and waste that Pelosi, Reid, and Obama want railroaded through Congress.

That would show the new administration that the American media will do its job in casting a skeptical eye on government no matter which party controls it.  So far, though, they’ve seemed much more interested in cheerleading for Obama than in asking tough questions about the largest, most expensive spending bill in American history.