Friday, February 13, 2009

Something I really don't freakin' understand: Jerry Lewis edition

(From Calitics)

The Los Angeles Times is reporting (I know, that phrase sounds inherently contradictory these days) that California stands to receive $26 billion from the jobs bill being shepherded through the Congress.

In other news, Rep. Jerry Lewis is insane. And by that, I mean certifiably guano-crazy. Delusional. Unstable, even.

But first, the money. Yes, our state should be getting $26 billion very soon:

Reporting from Sacramento and Washington -- The $789-billion economic stimulus bill headed toward congressional approval is expected to pour $26 billion into California -- building roads, upgrading schools and launching other projects intended to create or save jobs.

The expectation is that the federal government will funnel at least $9.2 billion directly to the state treasury, mostly for education and healthcare, in the next 18 months. Millions of Californians will get a tax cut aimed at promoting consumer spending.

That all sounds really good. But keep in mind that the budget "compromise" that's being worked out in Sacramento already takes these funds into account. And if, for some reason, California doesn't see the federal help that the budget is taking for granted, god help us all:

The austere budget package in the works in Sacramento already assumes that the federal assistance will wipe out nearly a quarter of California's deficit. If it falls short of that, Californians are in for even more financial carnage; about $1 billion in extra program cuts and tax hikes would be triggered under the budget plan.

The extra cuts would apply to welfare grants, aid to the elderly and disabled, and Medi-Cal. State colleges and universities would also lose money, as would the court system.

It'll come out of you one way or another, don't worry. For all the Republicans like to chirp on about not raising taxes, it just means that if you try to send your kids to a good state school or community college, it'll be even more expensive for you. But don't worry, you got to keep your marginal rate low. Or something.

I would have you keep in mind, though, just how far $26 billion really goes in the State of California. I was just on a conference call with Los Angeles City Council President Eric Garcetti a couple of days ago wherein he mentioned that the City of Los Angeles alone has $13 billion worth of shovel-ready public works projects--especially school construction and renovation, as well as transportation projects--and that the city only expects to see $500 million in federal stimulus--or, less than 4% of what they could use. Bottom line: this is a mere down payment. Maybe not even that.

But back to the deranged affliction of Jerry Lewis. See, this is what Jerry Lewis had to say about the possibility of California being dropped a federal lifeline:

The measure has its critics. Rep. Jerry Lewis (R-Redlands), who is expected to be joined by most if not all of his fellow California Republicans in Congress in opposing the measure, said it would "spur permanent growth in government programs and spending that will hamstring future budgets and plunge our nation further into debt every year."

Apparently, the hamstringing of future budgets and the sewer-pipe-deep plunge our nation has already taken into debt aren't enough to want Representative Lewis to want to just possibly try out something different. No, his main concern, ladies and gentlemen? Limiting the growth of government programs! It doesn't matter that people are jobless. It doesn't matter that private employers don't have the wherewithal to pick up the slack, nor does it matter that we're in desperate need of infrastructure improvement. No, what matters, simply put, is that government not grow any bigger.

And this is the key element here: Jerry Lewis and his fellow Republicans in both Washington and Sacramento are like little children walking on the sidewalk trying to make sure that they don't step on any cracks. They're paying such good attention to making sure they don't step on any of the "government growth" cracks that they've forgotten where they're going or why. All they know is that they don't want to step on a crack, because if they do, they'll lose the imaginary game they came up with in their own heads within the last 5 minutes.

Welcome to today's Republican Party: where actual results come a distant second to commitment to principle.

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