Thursday, February 5, 2009

More Stimulus Debate, I Know Its Boring, But...

Today's columnists:
E J Dionne Jr
George F Will
Dana Millbank

By capping CEO's pay at $500,000, Barack Obama sparked a lot of public feedback. Many, like the Opnion Editorial in today's Gazette, who feels that the CEOs should get no more than any other welfare recipient, a wonderfully mean thought that I like very much.

Finally, good rousing debate over the stimulus bill, with members of both parties looking to cut unnecessary pork before a vote happens. The NY Times reports: "The effort is being led by two centrist senators, Ben Nelson, Democrat of Nebraska, and Susan Collins, Republican of Maine, who say they would like to pare from $50 billion to $200 billion from the package. The final Senate vote on the stimulus package is expected late on Thursday.

Among the initiatives that could be cut are $50 million for the National Endowment for the Arts, $14 million for cyber security research by the Homeland Security Department, $1 billion for the National Science Foundation, $400 million for research and prevention of sexually transmitted diseases, $850 million for Amtrak and $400 million for climate change research. But so far, none of the suggestions come close to being enough to shrink the package on the scale proposed."

But they probably won't go far enough and we will have several bridge to nowhere projects kept in the bill. Homeland Security doesn't need $236 million for new furniture, when the real cost is closer to $236 thousand and the rest of the amount is pure padding. So many of the requests are like this, the psychology of line items is to ask for as much as you can and then negotiate towards the actual cost if singled out for debate. The gamble is that your request gets cut altogether, but worth it if its not questioned and you end up with the full amount. Welcome to Congress, baby!

One of the truly useful programs being considered, is for the Feds to offer refinancing of mortgages at 4%. The Federal government can borrow money at 3%, use that money for mortgages at 4%, and actually make a little money while having no affect on the national deficit. You would have house payments from $400-$700 less each month and its thought that the money can be saved or would be spent to stimulate the economy. It's a win/win program, and one I really hope will pass because I have an ARM loan that has kept on going up instead of adjusting downwards with the economy. Now I'm paying 11% interest and I can't refinance because I have been paying my mortgage payments on time, so far the programs available for restructuring are for those who have missed payments and are about to be foreclosed.

In the Denver Post this morning a letter writer, Duane Thompson, tells that he's recieved notice from Chase Bank that issued his VISA through AARP, that beginning March 1, they are raising their interest rates from 7.99% to 29.99%, a hike of 22%. Check your credit card statements and thank George Bush who made it possible during the last weeks of his administration.

Today's jokes:

"Aren't you tired of bad economic news, ladies and gentlemen? Well, here is some good economic news. President Obama has a great new economic plan. Here's what he's going to do. He's going to make all the cabinet members that he has selected pay their back taxes." --David Letterman

"Tom Daschle has withdrawn his cabinet nomination because he had some tax problems. Forgot about $150,000. Remember the old days, when politicians got in trouble for having sex with pages. Those days seem pretty sweet now, don't they?" --David Letterman

"The New York Post is reporting that Bernard Madoff's family is so upset with his actions in this Ponzi scheme, they're thinking of changing the family name to something less offensive, like bin Laden." --Jay Leno

"The U.S. Post Office announced they could run out of cash by the end of the year. They said they're in serious danger of becoming a bank. That's how bad it is." --Jay Leno

"I tell you, the economy is so bad, even people who have nothing to do with the Obama administration aren't paying their taxes." --Jay Leno

"You know what really did Tom Daschle in? It turns out there are now pictures of him partying with Michael Phelps." --Jay Leno

"And tax problems for another Obama nominee. Nancy Killefer has withdrawn her nomination as White House chief performance officer. Not only did she not pay her taxes, she had a tax lien put on her house by the government. Where is Obama getting these nominees? Old episodes of 'Cops'?" --Jay Leno

"You realize Obama would have less tax problems if he had nominated Willie Nelson and Wesley Snipes. They actually have better records than most of these people." --Jay Leno

"And it was on this very day in 1690 that the very first paper money in America was issued in Massachusetts. It was issued by a man named Merrill Lynch, who used the money to give himself the first huge bonus." --Jay Leno

"Sen. John McCain is denying a rumor that his wife Cindy will be a contestant on the upcoming season of 'Dancing with the Stars.' When asked why, McCain said: 'Dance? Are you kidding? I've never even seen her blink.'" --Conan O'Brien

"Apparently, the President has a half brother named George Obama, who lives in Kenya, and George Obama was arrested on Saturday for possession of marijuana. He was walking around the village telling people his brother was the President, so they assumed he was high and arrested him." --Jimmy Kimmel

"How great is that, though? One brother is the President of the United States, the other is a stoner in Kenya. If that isn't a sitcom, I don't know what is." --Jimmy Kimmel

"And by the way, is Africa really the place you want to get the munchies? It isn't." --Jimmy Kimmel

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