There's a certain irony — not necessarily a contradiction, but irony — in the fact that Republicans are pinning their opposition to the ginormous stimulus bill the House passed yesterday on allegations that it's just a bunch of pork for Democrats' home districts…
… while the favorite public works proposal of the third most-powerful Democrat in the House is NOT included.
Yes, I get it that Jim Clyburn says it's not for a lack of political will to fund it, but rather a matter of those pesky environmentalists tying it up with a lawsuit. He maintains that if it weren't for the blasted tree-huggers, he'd have gotten the span between Lone Star and Rimini funded.
But it's still ironic. If this project that he has wanted so badly for so long can't make it into an unprecedented, extraordinary $3.2 billion infusion of federal funds into South Carolina, it's probably missed its best chance ever.
As for what IS in the $819 billion extravaganza, I have not audited it to see whether it's pork or not. It does occur to me that just about anything that would meet the standards of what the stimulus is supposed to be — extra spending, on stuff the federal government would not normally spend on, "shovel-ready" and labor-intensive — it would probably be something that someone could legitimately call "pork" if they are so inclined. Think about it: What IS pork? Generally, it means something spent in some elected representative's district that would not meet normal standards of being a national spending priority (or state priority, when we're talking pork on that level of government). Well, presumably if it were something that had been determined to be a national priority, it would have been funded already.
Bottom line, I don't know what the percentage of overlap between the two sets (good stimulus projects on the one hand, "pork" on the other) would be — say, 80 or 90 percent, just to venture a wild guess? — but it seems like there would be very strong correlation.
Or am I missing something?
Anyway, I made that point to a colleague earlier today, and he said, "Yeah, well what about this mandate that NASA spend on fighting global warming — that's not a job-producer." I said, "well, it would probably mean jobs for the engineers and techno-geeks required to implement it." He said, "but NASA already has engineers." And I said, "Yes, but if what I was reading in The Economist this morning is correct, a lot of them would otherwise be losing their jobs because Obama doesn't want to follow through on the Bush goals of going back to the Moon and on to Mars." That's gotta mean some latter-day Werner von Brauns joining the unemployment lines. (Which is a whole nother debate I may raise in a separate post.)
I don't know; we're probably both right. Which means Democrats can say this is a great stimulus bill, and Republicans say it's a bunch of pork, and nobody be lying…