Steve is going to be posting a series he started teaching in Sunday School. It has been really good so far. You can read the first lesson here:
In the news:
Haste Makes Stimulus Waste
What emergency? President Obama, who demanded a final stimulus package on his desk by the 16th, seems in no hurry to sign the bill that only a handful of members had an opportunity to read because of the rush. Instead, he and the First Lady jetted to Chicago this weekend to celebrate a leisurely Valentine’s Day, leaving many in Congress to wonder about the last-minute conference push. The news from Pennsylvania Avenue this morning is that Obama won’t even sign the bill until mid-week, which would have given Congress ample time to study the bill’s fine print.
In statements after the votes, both parties seemed stung by the President’s haste, particularly after he promised transparency on the stimulus to both chambers and the American people. Ironically, the closest Congress came to bipartisanship was a unanimous vote that the public have 48 hours to digest the 1,071 page proposal before the bill’s passage. This weekend, Obama vowed honesty after the fact. “Once the plan is put into action, a new website… will allow any American to watch where the money goes and weigh in with comments and questions…” Unfortunately for those of us paying the bill, the transparency is too little too late.
For better–or more likely worse–the stimulus is finished, leaving many of us to wonder what was actually included. Here’s what we do know. The plan will cost roughly $787 billion–excluding interest, which some analysts predict will be as high as $347 billion. While Obama promised to create more than 3.5 million jobs, the final bill will fall a half-million short (and almost three million shy of the jobs created by the GOP’s alternative). Experts say the cost per job will be somewhere between $229,000-$262,000. The average American family can expect to shoulder $10,000 of the final tab. Most of them will probably do so reluctantly since $43.6 billion of the stimulus is directed to programs that the Office of Management and Budget has rated as “ineffective” or “results not demonstrated.” The conference bill also established a $53 billion “Stabilization Fund” to reward states that have spent irresponsibly and now find themselves deeply in debt.
President Obama’s team tried to lower the great expectations of the bill, saying that “it’s going to take some time” for the economy to rebound. The deficit, on the other hand, may never recover. With the final stimulus package, it’s likely to reach 10 percent of the GDP.
Capacity Crowd Flocks to FRC’s Maine Attraction
In what the Boston Globe called a show of “force,” FRC’s Maine marriage rally exceeded everyone’s expectations. With over 1,100 people at the Augusta Civic Center, we filled two overflow rooms and still had others crammed in hallways and lining the walls–all to protest the same-sex “marriage” bill proposed by state Rep. Dennis Damon (D). Our ally Mike Heath of the Maine Family Policy Council said that in all his 20 years of working with the pro-family movement in the state, 1,000 had been the largest crowd ever assembled. If the media’s count is correct, this would be the largest values voter gathering that Mike–and perhaps Maine–has ever seen.
The event itself was an overwhelming success, thanks in large part to the line-up of diverse speakers, which included pastors, politicians, and everyone in between. The partnership extended to Democrats and Republicans, Catholics and evangelicals, and even some Latter-Day Saints–all united in defense of traditional marriage. Although there were a few dozen protestors outside, nothing could diminish the excitement inside as the crowd cheered and applauded for Rep. Stephen Hanley (D), Rep. Richard Cebra (R), Charla Bansley (Concerned Women for America of Maine), Pastor Bob Emrich (Maine Jeremiah Project), Marc Mutty (Catholic Diocese of Portland), Mike Heath, and Brian Perkins (Grace Community Church). I have to say I left Maine this morning very encouraged by and grateful for the outstanding work of our cosponsors and look forward to standing alongside thousands of energized Mainers in the battle ahead.
Additional Resources The Kennebec Journal: AUGUSTA Marriage rally sees big crowd