‘Jumping the shark” refers to TV sitcoms that have run out of ideas and resort to desperate stunts to stay on the air. Yesterday, Senate Democrats, headed by Majority Leader Harry Reid and his chief deputies, Sen. Dick Durbin of Illinois and Sen. Charles Schumer of New York, showed that jumping the shark happens in politics too.
As Reuters reported, Reid and company are demanding that a new stimulus program be included in any deficit reduction agreement, including billions in new spending on highways and clean energy projects. “Get the recovery right before you get in this deficit-cutting mode, get people back to work,” Durbin said in a declaration whose ludicrousness ranks with right there with “Mission accomplished” and the Bush family’s “Read my lips, no new taxes.”
If this latest Democrat demand for new spending — which they also insist must be combined with tax increases aka “revenue” — sounds familiar, it should. Here’s how President Obama’s chief economic advisors, Christini Romer and Jared Bernstein phrased it in 2009, a few days before the Democrat-dominated 111th Congress approved the $830 billion stimulus program written behind closed doors by Reid and then-House Speaker Nancy Pelosi: The “unemployment rate with … the recovery plan,” won’t go above 8 percent. The tragic reality is that the unemployment rate has been above 9 percent ever since and reached 10 percent at one point last year. The recovery has been worse than anemic, suggesting that America has been plunged into an economic stagnation reminiscent of Japan’s “lost decade” in the 1990s when its public spending binge collapsed.
That Democrats now demand yet another stimulus program, plus tax hikes, is a Hail-Mary reprise of a failed policy. All they can think of is more spending, more tax increases, more federal bureaucracy. Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus, D-Mont., was at least up front about it: “I think revenue is needed for a whole host of reasons, and more importantly, I think, leadership is needed — leadership is needed on both sides of the aisle, and on both ends of Pennsylvania Avenue.” Does anybody doubt that what he really meant is more spending and tax hikes?
An incredulous Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell said, “This isn’t just mystifying, it’s farcical. I mean, most Americans had to wonder if they were dreaming this morning when they saw this headline: ‘Democrats call for new spending in US debt deal’ More spending? As a solution to a debt crisis? What planet are they on?”