PERSPECTIVE: How High Is $789 Billion?


Using $100 bills, $789 billion would create a pile 57 miles high. Note that the atmosphere begins seven miles above the Earth’s surface.

RELATED: The House approved a $787 billion economic stimulus package Friday afternoon, with Democrats successfully promoting it as a boost for middle-class Americans and Republicans countering in vain that it will only stimulate wasteful government spending.The vote was 246 to 183, reflecting the Democrats’ considerable majority in the House and the Republicans’ deep dissatisfaction with the measure, whose estimated price tag has fluctuated daily and was finally placed at $787 billion on Friday. Not a single Republican voted in favor of the bill. The Senate was expected to vote on the final legislation Friday evening, clearing the way for the paperwork to go to President Obama, who is eager to sign the measure. MORE

RELATED: The vote in the House was 246 to 183, with just 7 Democrats joining all 176 Republicans in opposition. In the Senate, the vote of 60 to 38 was similarly partisan. Only three centrist Republicans joined 55 Democrats and two independents in favor.The Senate finally adopted the bill at 10:47 p.m. after what appeared to be the longest Congressional vote in history. The peculiar, 5-hour, 16-minute process was required because Senator Sherrod Brown, Democrat of Ohio, had to return to Washington from his home state after attending a funeral home visitation for his mother who died on Feb. 2 at the age of 88. Mr. Obama is expected to sign the bill at a public ceremony on Monday. MORE

SHITBIRD: Philly Feds Probe Dirty Drug Cop

ASSOCIATED PRESS:  The FBI has joined a probe into whether a city police officer falsified evidence to build drug cases, Mayor Michael Nutter said Friday, and reports say the investigation may spread to other officers. Narcotics Officer Jeffrey Cujdik has been under investigation by the police department’s internal affairs unit since December based on a complaint from a longtime informant who worked with him. The informant told police that the statements he put in applications for search warrants did not match the evidence at the time, Police Commissioner Charles Ramsey said at a news conference Friday. Cujdik, 34, has been on the force for about 12 years and is known as a busy officer who has built many drug cases.The Philadelphia Daily News reported in Friday’s editions that he earned nearly $50,000 in overtime above his $55,000 base salary in 2007. The Philadelphia Inquirer has reported that he was involved in 198 arrests in 2006 and 2007 that led to 88 guilty verdicts to date, with more cases pending. Ramsey declined to confirm those numbers. MORE

SENATOR AQUA NET: Send Lawyers, Guns And Hairspray!

INQUIRER: A veteran Pennsylvania lawmaker was vacationing at his waterfront home on Jupiter fumo_final.jpgIsland, Fla., in May 2003 when he realized he needed hair spray and some medicine. Vincent Fumo, the powerful Philadelphia Democrat, had his staff back home run out to buy the hair spray, then ship the items overnight along with two faxes. “They were mostly shipping me the faxes,” Fumo testified Thursday in his corruption trial. Fumo, 65, is charged with defrauding the state Senate and two nonprofits out of more than $3.5 million in goods, services and staff time. The hair spray shipment constitutes just $35.26 of the alleged fraud, but the federal prosecutor cross-examining Fumo no doubt hoped it would resonate with jurors who have endured a four-month trial. Fumo spent $10,000 in state funds from 2001 to 2005 on FedEx shipments for mostly personal items, according to prosecutors. Fumo quibbled with the amount, saying he thought it was much less, but did not challenge the basic point. “Why are you having your Senate staff in Philadelphia FedEx tea and coffee to Florida?” Assistant U.S. Attorney John Pease asked the multimillionaire banker and lawyer. “I guess because I wanted them, and they shipped them,” Fumo, 65, said. “I did not think this was a big deal.” MORE

[Illustration by SCOTT COLAN]

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