As featured on p. 218 of "Bloggers on the Bus," under the name "a MyDD blogger."

Monday, January 26, 2009

Congress Gets Its Hands On A Perfectly Good Stimulus Bill, Bungles It

This is flat wrong, and I think unconstitutional:

We’ve been scouring the $825 billion House version of the pending economic stimulus bill this morning, and here are five curious clauses we've found so far. While we're making phone calls, please contact us with any others you find.

1. Blago Out, Stimulus Bucks In

No Illinois state agency can spend stimulus money without the state legislature's approval, the bill says, until a certain "Rod R. Blagojevich no longer holds the office of Governor of the State of Illinois." Ouch. We've put a call into the governor's office to see what he thinks of this.

Adam Bonin has more on this, including the well-supported theory that this violates the Bill of Attainder clause in the Constitution, which stipulates that Congress cannot punish an individual with legislation. This amounts to bribing the Illinois Senate "jury" into removing Blagojevich to secure stimulus funding.

It also is, it seems to me, unnecessary. Blagojevich is not participating in the impeachment trial because he knows he's going to lose. There is no need for inducements to the Illinois Senate, because the only drama in that trial is whether every Senator will vote to remove Blago or whether there will be one holdout. This is just bad lawmaking.

So is this:

2. Sorry, Las Vegas

The bill specifically prohibits stimulus funding "for any casino or other gambling establishment, aquarium, zoo, golf course, or swimming pool." No mention of roller-skating rinks.

This is only in there to rebut conservative arguments about "wasted" stimulus money, but it's absurd. Someone has to build that aquarium or zoo or golf course. That person gets a job, and spending money. Job creation is the entire POINT of the stimulus. It doesn't matter what jobs are created, in a certain sense, although jobs that are more long-term and that multiply solutions by leaving something tangible behind or contribute to, say, reducing greenhouse gases are more desirable. But eliminating projects that may be shovel-ready because of PR concerns is just bad sausage-making.

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