Last week, Barack Obama said it was "shameful" that Wall Street executives taking billions in federal bailouts were turing around and using some of the money for top-dollar bonuses.
But in the brazen department, Wall Street has nothing on Chuck Schumer and the rest of the Congressional Democrats.
It seems they slid a big slice of pork into the economic stimulus bill -- $2.43 billion over the next two years to make up for a potential loss in state aid to schools in New York state. That would come on top of additional aid included elsewhere in the stimulus package aimed at building schools and helping special education and underachieving students.
What does the $2.43 billion have to do with jump-starting the economy, you ask?
The same can be said about too much of the $700 billion, $800 billion, do I hear $900 billion? stimulus package approved by the House last week and awaiting Senate action.
Doug Turner nails it in his column today.
The bailout would shield New York’s bloated local and state governments, the teachers unions, other public employees and hospital workers from serious financial sacrifices in this recession, or depression.
Because of crushing state and local taxes imposed by their demands over the years, upstate ceased to be a “producer” economy — a place where new private-sector investments create payrolls and wealth.
Everybody said the stimulus would come from building and repairing roads and bridges.
There is disagreement over exactly how much in the House bill would go to the states for infrastructure. The reality is a pathetic 5 percent or 6 percent of the total.
Nationally, money for local and state government-worker bailouts is $80 billion — double the amount for infrastructure — a chilling index of the grip their unions have on Congress and President Obama.
New York State’s share of the funds going to roads, bridges and tunnels is pitiful: Less than $4 billion. E.J. McMahon, of the Albany think tank Empire Center, compares that with the needs outlined in the five-year plan of the state Department of Transportation and the Metropolitan Transportation Authority: $50 billion.
Let me repeat what Doug just said: the stimulus package would spend twice as much propping up state and local government as it would rebuilding infrastructure.
In other words, it's a form of welfare for state and local governments. Welfare, I might add, that adds to the ballooning national debt.
If the Dems are anxious to keep teachers on the job, and their paychecks circulating in the economy, perhaps they can get behind pension reforms proposed by Gov. Paterson that would require teachers to work later in life than 55 before they're entitled to a full pension.