Stimulating

Among the goodies stuffed in the trillion dollar grab bag passed by by House Democrats yesterday — in addition to billions for ACORN — are many surprises. George Will discovers a Council for Comparative Effectiveness Research:

The stimulus legislation would create a council for Comparative Effectiveness Research. This is about medicine but not about healing the economy. The CER would identify (this is language from the draft report on the legislation) medical “items, procedures, and interventions” that it deems insufficiently effective or excessively expensive. They “will no longer be prescribed” by federal health programs. The next secretary of health and human services, Tom Daschle, has advocated a “Federal Health Board” similar to the CER, whose recommendations “would have teeth”: Congress could restrict the tax exclusion for private health insurance to “insurance that complies with the Board’s recommendation.” The CER, which would dramatically advance government control — and rationing — of health care, should be thoroughly debated, not stealthily created in the name of “stimulus.”

The Washington Times reports the commitment of hundreds of millions of dollars in both House and Senate bills for the prevention of sexually transmitted diseases:

The House included $335 million in its package. But the Senate, not to be outdone, provided $400 million in STD spending in its bill.

When the Drudge Report noted the House funds Wednesday morning, it set off a round of criticism from Republicans who said the money made no sense in a $819 billion bill designed to get the economy back on track.

“Senate big spenders will never be underbid in wasting tax dollars. But how in the world does STD research create jobs? Wait. … Don’t answer that. I don’t want to know,” said Wesley Denton, an aide to Sen. Jim DeMint, South Carolina Republican.

But the Senate bill, on page 138 of the 431-page measure, directs $400 million to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention “for the screening and prevention of sexually transmitted diseases, including HIV.”

The late Illinois Senator Everett Dirksen is reported to have mocked (perhaps apocryphally) such federal largesse: “A billion here, a billion there, and pretty soon you’re talking real money.” Updating Dirksen, I would add: “A trillion here, a trillion there, and pretty soon you’re talking funny money.”

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