It’s troubling that nobody in the House or Senate read the economic stimulus cargo (it’s too big to be a package) before voting on it last Friday. Remember, if it were all in hundred dollar bills, it would be over 8,500 tons of US paper money. If it was so important to pass it quickly, why did President Obama wait until Tuesday to sign it? Based on the length of the bill (over a thousand pages) it’s doubtful President Obama read it either, before signing it into law.
Congress and every state legislature with which I’m familiar works on the committee system. Members are assigned to committees and they and their staffs become well informed or even experts on the type of legislation their committee regularly considers. Members who are not on the committees tend to rely on colleagueswho are on the committee to determine how they’ll vote.
In Congress, it would be unusual for everybody to read a bill that the members were voting on, but it’s also unusual if nobody does. In the case of the stimulus cargo, nobody had time. The bill was made available eight hours or so before the voting started. Even if a Congressman or Senator divied up the bill and distributed it to staff to analyze, the time involved was too short. And the only reason to vote on it Friday was to give opposition no time to build.
It can’t be as good as its strongest proponents say it is, and I certainly hope it’s not as bad as its harshest critics opine. I hope it works too. My son is among those currently unemployed. But two old adages come to mind and either or both of them make me concerned.
A camel is a horse designed by a committee, and two things you should never watch being made are sausage and laws.
Today the President announced a program for homeowners in or near foreclosure. I’m of two minds on this. The first is I’m already paying for my house and I don’t want to help pay for anyone else’s. The second is that when I eventually retire, I’d like to be able to sell my house and move to a smaller one someplace warmer. And, while it’s easy to buy a house someplace warmer for a lot less than they cost last year, in present conditions it’s also harder to sell my house and my house is worth a lot less than it was a year or two ago. So if propping up the mortgage market to cut down on foreclosures works, then it should drive the price of housing back up since there won’t be many foreclosures on the market. That, I’d like to see.