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Obama 'Stimulus Package' Will Exact Major Liberty Costs

February 6, 2009
BlueRidgeForum.com

Understandably, critics of the so-called "stimulus" package have focused on the measure's economic ineffectiveness and its reckless governmentalism.

But there are also significant ‘liberty costs' in the president's proposal, costs we overlook at our peril.

NRO's
Mark Hemingway reports this evening here - -

"DeMint Amendment Against Religious Discrimination Fails"
To find out how your senator voted on the amendment see here. Press release below:

‘For Immediate Release: February 5, 2009
Office of U.S. Senator Jim DeMint (R-South Carolina)

Democrats Vote to Discriminate Against Students of Faith

Stimulus bans universities and colleges from using funds to renovate buildings where students engage in ‘religious worship'

Washington, D.C. - Today, U.S. Senator Jim DeMint (R-South Carolina) made the following statement after Democrats voted 43-54 against his amendment to strike language from the economic stimulus bill that discriminates against students of faith. Senator DeMint's amendment would have eliminated a provision that bans any university or college receiving funds to renovate buildings, from allowing 'sectarian instruction' or ‘religious worship' within the facility. This would in effect bar use of campus buildings for groups like the Fellowship of Christian Athletes, Campus Crusade for Christ, Catholic Student Ministries, Hillel, and other religious organizations.

‘This is a direct attack on students of faith, and I'm outraged Democrats are using an economic stimulus bill to promote discrimination,' said Senator DeMint. ‘Democrats should be ashamed of themselves for siding with the ACLU over millions of students of faith. These students simply want equal access to public facilities, which is their constitutional right. This hostility toward religion must end. Those who voted to for this discrimination are standing in the schoolhouse door to deny people of faith from entering any campus building renovated by this bill.'"

Almost all Republicans, even Pennsylvania's Arlen Specter, supported the DeMint safeguard for religious freedom - save for the Maine Sisters Susan Collins and Olympia Snowe who show little evidence even of being Republican, let alone conservative. One Independent and Four Democrats as well voted for the safeguard: Joe Lieberman, Evan Bayh, Kent Conrad, Byron Dorgan, and Ben Nelson. One wonders, however, what prompted Virginia's Jim Webb to vote against this.

As the Heritage Foundation points out, both the education here and the health-care provisions here pose grave risks to personal freedoms.  In the first case, school choice is prohibited; in the second, an open road is paved for rationing of disfavored procedures and drugs, and interference in clinical decisions.

"One troubling regulation included in the pro­posed [House] spending plan is a prohibition that no funds be used to provide financial assistance to students to attend private elementary and secondary schools. Besides appealing to special interest groups that oppose school-choice policies, it is unclear why the spending plan-whose stated goal is to support state efforts to improve education-would include this prohibition. A growing number of states are using state funds to give parents the power to choose the best school for their children. A growing body of research suggests that school-choice poli­cies are beneficial to participating children."(Underscoring Forum's.)

. . . . . . . . . .
"An Infrastructure for Rationing. The House and Senate bills would establish a framework and funding for comparative effectiveness research and health information technology. While the Senate's language is broad and vague, the House language provides further clarity. The House committee report states that ‘those [items] that are found to be less effective and in some cases, more expensive, will no longer be prescribed.' . . . .This type of alarming language is similar to what exists today in the British National Health Service.

In addition, billions of dollars would be spent on a health IT information ‘architecture' for exchanging information and training health care professionals. Combining the comparative effective research with the health IT portal opens the door to direct government intervention in the clinical decisions by physicians and other health care providers."(Underscoring Forum's.)

Tonight Politico reports here continuing negotiations on the stimulus package - -

"The two major Republican alternatives -costing less than the administration's plan -remain stymied as well. A $421 billion stimulus package-heavily tilted toward tax cuts and offered by the president's old rival, Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.)-was rejected 57-40 Thursday. A second GOP option, focused more on housing issues, fared even worse, going down 62-35.

But as the Democratic proposal has continued to grow, the backroom talks reflect a nagging nervousness in the majority party about the high cost and the administration's inability thus far to attracted [sic] broader support.

This has given rise to the bipartisan bloc led by Sens. Ben Nelson (D-Neb.) and Susan Collins (R-Maine), both of whom met individually with Obama on Wednesday. Most of the reductions would come from state aid and education funds as well as an array of lesser appropriations judged extraneous by critics to the core mission of the stimulus bill."

Supporting the Republican House alternative here is a good place to stand for Republicans from both chambers. Trimming a dangerous proposal like the Administration's around the edges serves no purpose, and its danger remains. Likely the president will beguile a handful of ‘Republican' senators to vote for passage of his measure - perhaps tomorrow, but one hopes that Republican Leader McConnell will keep his flock largely together in opposition and most Republican fingerprints off the final product.

The liberty costs of the Administration measure are such that even a reengineered stimulus package would not be justified without removing the offending provisions.

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