Whether we get a clean stimulus package or a Christmas tree festooned with ornaments of pork depends on a committee of notables.
And some near-notables. And a couple of non-notables. And at least one we-wish-he'd-go-away-so he'd-stop-being notable. Maybe two.
They'll hammer out differences between the House and Senate bills. They're also free to delete stuff both houses of Congress approved and insert stuff neither house approved. Or even considered.
Some stuff that's being stuffed in, like fair treatment for Filipinos who fought on America's side in WWII, isn't going to do much to stimulate the economy. It's mostly about America finally acting like America ought. Then again, a few bucks in the pockets of elderly Filipinos and Filipino-Americans might goose prune juice sales in Hawaii a little. I'm just sayin'.
Other stuff being stuffed in is defensible. The President defended one yesterday.
Why wouldn't you require a move toward alternative fuels in the clauses covering the purchase of government vehicles? The stimulus part is buying the damn cars. If, at the same time, he can move forward on something he and McCain agreed on last fall --- weaning ourselves from dependence on energy bought from folks who don't like us very much --- that's a good thing.
Other stuff being stuffed in is utterly indefensible; the conference committee should wield a scalpel, not a ladle.
Bob Dylan sang to an earlier generation of legislators:
Come Senators, Congressmen please heed the call
Don't stand in the doorway, don't block up the hall
For he who gets hurt will be he who has stalled
There's a battle outside and it's raging
It'll soon shake your windows and rattle your walls
For the times, they are a changing
It might be a good idea to have that song playing while they meet.
Maybe on a loop with the Springsteen/Pete Seeger performance of Woody Guthrie's "This Land is Your Land" at the Lincoln Memorial on Inauguration Weekend.
All six verses.