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Liberals pass the bills, ordinary voters pay them

Say the words “just a bill” and our TV civics lesson takes hold. Without realizing it, millions of Americans would instantly start humming a Schoolhouse Rock song entitled “I’m Just a Bill.”


The song is cartoon version of how a bill becomes a law. It was produced in the mid-1970s and offered an idealized version of democracy. According to Mr. Bill, the congressional process began when “some folks back home decided they wanted a law passed.”


It’s the song that President Barack Obama should have recalled when he wrote his July 12 piece for The Washington Post entitled “Rebuilding Something Better.” In it, Obama defended the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act – the $787 billion stimulus plan that has failed to deliver as promised.


The bill’s “swift and aggressive action” had little to do with democracy. It didn’t begin back home, where people are hurting from the economic downturn. It began in Washington, where people never hurt from an economic downturn. It started as a bill to seize control of ever more of the economy and ensure Democratic dominance for years to come by making Americans dependent on government.


It started as a bill and became a bill – for $787 billion dollars. It’s a bill you and your children and maybe even your grandchildren will be paying for decades. And it’s just one of many. Obama wants $1 trillion to $2 trillion for health care reform. The cap-and-trade disaster could cost another $9.6 trillion in the next 10 years. Then there are billions more to keep the autoworkers unions afloat.


Now, according to his latest spend spin, he wants to “reform our community colleges.” To do that, he plans to “reallocate funding” What funding? Is there another dollar in America that he hasn’t already spent?  Reuters reports that the Congressional Budget Office estimates “that the budget deficit would likely crest at $1.8 trillion this fiscal year.” The bills keep getting passed and passed on to an impoverished public.


Yet somehow Obama told Post readers that we must “make the tough choices necessary to bring down our deficit in the long run.” His op-eds should include a laugh track. The only tough choice he is making is whether to push the spending problem till after 2012 when his first term expires, or 2016 when he can kick this problem down the road to a guaranteed successor.


One thing is certain, the economic problems won’t be solved anytime soon. The Obama administration has been caught flat-footed and the very people who have been running the economic operation are also the ones who told him Stimulus I would keep unemployment no higher than 8 percent. We passed that some time ago.


Now even Obama supporters like Warren Buffett are warning unemployment could hit 11 percent. Larry Summers, director of the president’s National Economic Council, told the Financial Times: “I don’t think the worst is over” for the economy.


That might be because Democrats are doing so many things to harm the economy. The latest House Democrat plan to finance health care reform flies in the face of Obama’s no new taxes pledge. It would, reportedly, include “an income tax surcharge” for “individuals earning more than $200,000.” The bill for one of these ideas equals $540 billion.


And the bills keep on coming – even before the first stimulus is spent. With only about $100 billion already on the move, Democrats are calling for a Stimulus II sequel, perhaps entitled “The Empire Strikes Back.” (Washington watchers know this would actually be the third stimulus, if you count the joint effort between Bush and Hill Dems. Call That one “National Treasure III.”)


Just as Obama’s team is making noise about more bills, the media are regurgitating their support for previous bailouts. New York Times columnist and spendaholic Paul Krugman urged Obama to throw away even more money or face his “own personal 1937.”


Other journalists will no doubt follow with their support – as they have for every other recent Washington spending spree. Just a couple months ago, the media warned of doom if Stimulus I didn’t pass. MSNBC’s Contessa Brewer invoked the Depression in her  interview with Sen. John Barrasso, R-Wyo. “But if it fails, if it fails and our economy implodes and we see ourselves stuffing cardboard back in our shoes like they did in the Depression era, are you willing to put your name behind that?” Brewer asked.


The broadcast networks deployed the exact same scare tactics and promoted the bill with supporters interviewed by more than 2-to-1 over any critics. Less than 2 percent of the network stories talked about how to pay for Stimulus I.


Now Stimulus II, health care, cap-and-trade and even community college spending are on the way, yet there is little talk of how Americans can afford them.


They’re all just bills after all.


Dan Gainor is The Boone Pickens Fellow and the Media Research Center’s Vice President for Business and Culture. His column appears each week on The Fox Forum and he can be seen each Thursday on Foxnews.com’s “Strategy Room.”