The Cold Pimpin’ Leahy

Senator Leahy, fresh from the manic pace of being an incumbent for decades in the same tired, worn-out chair in the Senate, takes a little time out

You can't bully me into voting for a budget!

You can’t bully me into voting for a budget!

of his day to pay a staffer with tax dollars in order to pimp out, to you the taxpayer, his obviously laudable efforts in both heading off financial crises while simultaneously picking up cameo work in Batman flicks.

(Oh, and you might want to have you staff fix your broken links there, too, Senator.)

From Leahy’s website:

“In February 2009, Congress passed and the President signed into law an economic recovery plan to provide assistance for hardworking Americans struggling during this economic downturn.”

It was certainly pitched that way. But the reality is that the “plan” involved funneling tens of billions to banks, to state governments which largely used the dollars to plug their own budget shortfalls (including state pension funds), and to build signs that told us tax dollars were going to eventually be spent on improving a highway sometime with the next decade or so, which will “stimulate” economic growth.

The only infrastructure project Leahy won't vote for.

The only infrastructure project Leahy won’t vote for.

As has been widely and repeatedly demonstrated, there is no correlation between federal spending and economic (GDP) growth, especially considering that federal spending is a component of GDP. Even with record-setting deficits that Senator Leahy, as a member of the exclusive club of 100 Senators who can’t be bothered to pass a budget for over 1,000 days helped to heap onto the federal debt structure, GDP has barely moved tenths of percentage points in the almost 4 years since Leahy so proudly assisted struggling Americans during the economic downturn. A downturn helped, in large part, by public policies that Leahy himself endorses, but are harder to track these days when he doesn’t sign his name to budget bills, since his majority leader hasn’t felt any pressure to perform a task the Senate is legally required to perform, but fails to.

“As a senior member of the Appropriations Committee, Senator Leahy worked hard to ensure that the recovery bill included priorities important to Vermont, such as expanding financing opportunities for Americans in danger of losing their homes to foreclosure; promoting small business investment in plants and equipment; repairing our deteriorating roads and bridges; providing Food Stamps to struggling families; improving high-speed Internet access; and offering financial relief to states struggling with budget deficits that are forcing them to cut essential services.”

Whew. That’s some bill, Senator!  I had no idea your magical economic powers extended to such lengths.  Behold!

1. Re-financing capital for already-overcapitalized banks (courtesy of Bernanke), which would help keep people in houses they were already having serious trouble making the payments on. Re-financing an underwater mortgage is not going to net a significant cut in the monthly mortgage payment.

2. Promote small business investment – well, if that’s such a great idea (the depreciation rules), why weren’t these magical growth bills put in place decades ago? Was Leahy sitting on a great small business growth formula for 3 decades, and only noticed it falling out of his lap when he stood up, slowly, to lecture taxpayers from a podium on what he thinks is best for them?

3. Repairing bridges and roads. Ah, yes – the old chestnut still provides. When all other excuses for spending are exhausted, trot out “infrastructure” and folks go wobbly in the knees. Actually, states go wobbly in the knees, because they know that magically free Federal money will come their way in these projects, thus reducing the requirement that the state actually have revenues to cover its expenses.

First of all, the budget approvals for these projects take years, not months, and so (even if you buy the stimulus idea) for the spending to work, it has to be done immediately. Even Leahy’s site links to spending projects that haven’t even started yet. Well. Feel the power of this fully operational Battle Stimulus.

“While we are now seeing the positive results from the recovery bill, it is easy to forget just how perilous our economic outlook seemed at the beginning of last year. Some economists predicted that the United States could slip into a severe downturn rivaled only by the Great Depression.”

Some economists said that federal housing programs created the bubble that helped crash the economy, that Fannie and Freddie should be completely re-structured or closed down, and that more of the same lunatic policies would continue to exacerbate the problem and drag out the recovery that has historically happened much more quickly after the bottom is reached. Note that this is the longest and slowest economic recovery in modern history, and Leahy’s telling us it would have been worse without his help. Really? That’s like telling me that my house would have burned down less quickly had I not thrown gas on it.

Slow and low, that is the tempo!

Slow and low, that is the tempo!

“However, partly as a result of the economic rescue and economic recovery bills that Congress passed, our situation looks much better today.”

Which misses the point: What would it have looked like had you and your fellow clown-car drivers in DC not done anything at all?  If you passed anything at all, you can still claim credit years later that it “would have been worse” without the bill you passed.  I wish I could pimp that idea at every real job I’ve had all my life, but I don’t enjoy being fired.  Let’s not forget – the economy always recovers.  That doesn’t mean its recovery is created by, or even helped by, the US Senate.

“There are dozens of important economic development projects underway throughout Vermont that would not be possible without this infusion of federal money.”

Yet Vermont’s economy is still in its historical tank.  Unemployment, while low, is artificially low as the economic powerhouse that is Vermont manages to eke out 36th place in national household median income rankings.

I guess we can thank Senator Leahy for making us 36th. Without all his help, we might be in 57th place.

But here, at last, the painful kicker:

“Much of the recovery money still needs to be dispensed, but the spending thus far has proved to be effective. While our economic problems certainly are not over, we are starting to see signs of real economic recovery.”

It Both Chops AND Lifts To Economic Freedom

It Both Chops AND Lifts To Economic Freedom

So the bill that was rushed through Congress, passed with a heaping of lard so enormous that ChopLifters had to be flown in to   carry it out of the Capitol building, still has not yet been completely spent.

Let me see if I’ve got all of this straight:

1. 2009: We must pass this bill to stimulate economic growth or we’re all going to die.

2. 2013: We must continue the urgent work to spend this money or we’re all going to die.

My only conclusion to all of this is that someone, someone who has spent the majority of his adult life being adored for bearing the burden of being Senator, is flat-out lying. The truth is, we do not need his help, or the 99 other aging incompetents, in saving ourselves – the fact is, we need them to stop helping us, so we can help ourselves. Pimping out these dubious achievements is little more than an attempt to slap some window-dressing on an increasingly pathetic performance as Vermont’s Most Self-Congratulatory Senator.


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