Browsing through the Style section of yesterday’s Post, I happened upon an article about new Washington “power couples” that made reference to one Jeremy Bernard, a Los Angeles fundraiser for President Obama who recently landed the plum job as White House liaison to the National Endowment for the Humanities.
By Steven Pearlstein
The Washington Post
White House liaison to the National Endowment for the Humanities?
Let’s get this straight: We’re up to our necks in the worst global economic crisis since the 1930s, the government is putting trillions of dollars of borrowed money on the line to rescue the financial system and stimulate the economy, tens of trillions of dollars in paper wealth has vaporized, millions of Americans are losing their homes and their jobs, nearly all the top jobs at the Treasury Department are vacant, yet somehow the White House has found the time and the money to hire a liaison to the National Endowment for the Humanities!
It’s a small point, I realize, and I mean no disrespect either to Mr. Bernard or the humanities. But it highlights what seems to be a glaring problem: There is still way too much business as usual going on in Washington, on Wall Street and in the media.
Not so on Main Street. All indications are that in response to the crisis, consumers have embraced a new frugality, paring debt and cutting consumption they know had become excessive. Businesses are moving to cut back on dividends and stock buybacks they can no longer afford, trim frills and reduce prices and capacity to post-bubble realities.
Contrast that with the approach to the crisis taken by members of Congress, who as far as I can tell, have changed nothing about how they go about their duties. Same leisurely three-day work week. Same bloated budgets for staff and security. Same unwieldy committees holding the same meaningless hearings. Same partisan posturing and gamesmanship. Same willingness to put narrow special or parochial interests over the national interest.
Can you imagine a better way to undercut public support for fiscal stimulus and deficit spending than to report out an omnibus spending bill with nearly 9,000 earmarks totaling $8 billion? But, of course, that is just what the Democratic Congress has done. Americans don’t need to be lectured by the House speaker and the Senate majority leader on the spending prerogatives of Congress. What they need are leaders who can demonstrate, in ways symbolic as well as substantive, that they know the difference between spending that is crucial to the country in times of crisis and spending that is not.
We are told the president signed the omnibus spending bill with nearly 9,000 earmarks totaling $8 billion — in secret….