By The Signal Editorial Board
If you’re old enough, you’ll remember when all TV was free. It was broadcast TV coming over the airwaves.
At the time they said, “In the future you will pay for TV.” Who would believe that? Why pay for TV when it’s free! Now, there are a thousand channels, so many you can’t possibly watch them all or would want to, and most of us have some sort of pay platform to watch TV on.
They have different package plans and tiers of service, so it’s rare that you can choose only what you want, a la carte.
If you want both HBO and Showtime, you have to buy Tier 3, which also comes with The Movie Channel, the Mandarin Channel, the Basket Weaving Channel and 200 other channels that you don’t want and will never watch. They may be fine entertainment but we don’t want nor watch them. They bundle these channels into tiers because they know, if not forced, most people would not want them nor buy them, hence if you want HBO and Showtime it’s Tier 3 for you.
What does cable TV have to do with Congress, you ask?
Well, Congress just sold us Tier 3 with its latest COVID-19 relief package.
There are 100 million Americans out of work now and tens of thousands of businesses closed. Our economy is in havoc and we need help. Americans need help. Not because they are lazy or failed at anything but because our government closed down the economy and forced people out of work. So now millions and millions of people are out of work through no fault of their own.
We do not believe in huge government, nor that government should solve ALL problems, but this problem was caused by government and will ruin us. This problem government must help to solve and we need a stimulus plan to help the people who are struggling and getting hurt.
There was a single round of help back in April but that was not nearly enough to offset our economy being closed for 10 months and counting.
Congress has talked about it for nine months now and yes, finally this week a stimulus plan was attached to a $1.4 trillion omnibus spending package.
Thank you, Congress for doing your jobs, we say. After all, they continued to receive their $170,000 paychecks through all the talking. One trillion, four hundred billion dollars — finally, some help, we say. It’s about time.
Well, let’s see what’s in it. It turns out that’s a little hard to do.
The bill is 5,593 pages long.
Rank-and-file members of Congress received this bill two hours before voting on it.
If you read 300 words a minute, it would take you 77 hours to read all 5,593 pages.
So, they obviously did not read the entire bill before voting on it.
It’s being promoted as a relief assistance bill and it’s for $1.4 trillion, so there must be a lot of help in there.
Wrong. To get the “relief bill,” we have to take the rest of the omnibus bill that oozed from the Capitol Hill swamp. It’s a package deal.
There will be one-time payments of $600 for each person making less than $75,000 a year. That’s it? Six hundred dollars? After 10 months of struggling and not working?
There is also some relief for those unemployed. There will be a $300 weekly payment for 11 weeks, for the nonessential employees who can’t work because their jobs were closed down.
First of all, there really is no such thing as nonessential workers. If you’re working to feed and shelter your family you’re pretty darn essential to them. That term is demeaning and wrong.
This payment is not enough help for any family that is going through this crisis.
It’s some help, but that can’t be $1.4 trillion. Where’s the rest?
Great question. The “relief” part of the “relief bill” amounts to about $800 billion out of the $1.4 trillion omnibus bill.
You see, as with any omnibus spending legislation, there are quite a few extra dollars in there for pet projects of our elected officials.
- $10 million to attract women in the Afghan army.
- $35 billion for wind and solar power incentives.
- We are paying for a genetics research program in Kabul, Afghanistan.
- Tax breaks for race horse owners.
- $7 billion for broadband expansion.
- $100 million to build a border wall in Jordan for security to stop illegal immigration. This bill hurts our security by reducing funding for ICE, but we are paying to help prevent illegal immigration by building a border wall for… JORDAN.
- Two new Smithsonian museums.
- $35 billion for clean energy research.
- $3.36 billion for Bill Gates’ pet projects.
- $10 million for Pakistani gender programs.
- Money to promote gender equality.
- $193 million for new cars for HIV/Aids workers stationed abroad.
- $40 million to the Kennedy Center. Which, currently, is closed.
- $1.5 million for the appropriations committee’s “Office of Diversity and Inclusion.”
- Money to investigate the impacts of the 1908 Springfield Race Riot. Yes. That’s 1908, not 2008.
- A section of the bill reaffirms the rights of Tibetans to choose the successor to the Dalai Lama. Because, of course that’s relevant while our country is reeling from a pandemic.
- $700 million for the Sudan.
- $200 million to Bangladesh.
- $150 million to Sri Lanka.
- $1.3 billion for Egypt.
- $85 million for Cambodia.
- $130 million for Nepal.
- $135 million for Burma.
- $505 million for Central America.
- $461 million for Cambodia.
- $1.48 billion for Asia.
- $170 million for Vietnam.
- A mere $25 million for Pakistan.
- $80 million for Laos.
- $1.65 billion for Jordan.
- $60 million for Malawi.
- $325 million for the Congo.
- $40 million for Syria.
- $33 million for Venezuela.
- $483 million for the Ukraine.
There is more but you get the idea. (And we’re running out of space.)
This is not a Democrat issue nor a Republican issue. It’s a swamp issue. Politicians on both sides get paid money in campaign contributions from lobbyists to pad these spending bills. This is how it works.
If you’re a foreign government or special-interest group or union, you find a lobbyist, give them millions of dollars to make campaign contributions to the politicians, both Democrats and Republicans.
The lobbyist then writes a piece of legislation giving those interests hundreds of millions of dollars. They then give this pre-written legislation to “their” politicians, the ones they have donated to, who slip the legislation into the omnibus bill being voted on. Their legislation has nothing to do with the announced purpose of the legislation, but because the other elected officials also do it, they think nothing of it and vote for it.
The lobbyists, foreign governments and special-interest groups spend millions of dollars and get hundreds of millions or even billions in return.
You get $600. If you make less than $75,000 a year.
And there you have it, ladies and gentlemen.
That’s our government
This bill is a prime example of the swamp, with Democrats and Republicans alike swashing around in it.
It gives a few crumbs, as Nancy Pelosi would say, to its intended purpose — the American people — while giving billions to foreign governments and special interests.
Yep, we just bought Tier 3. Maybe it’s time to give up cable.