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Earmarks: federal credit card fraud
Posted by: Jon Henke on Thursday, February 09, 2006

NZ Bear reports that capitol hill staffers are trying to embarrass Congressmen who are pushing for public disclosure of earmarks...

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So, the fight is on between rent-seeking incumbents and politicians who still retain a shred of integrity and it's being played out in the media. The other day, Red State received a leaked Appropriations Committee email that illustrates the way this kind of business is done...

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"Hey, as long as I've got the company credit card, is there anything else you guys want?"

In fact, a few years back, exactly this kind of wasteful use of federal credit cards was exposed within the Pentagon and other agencies. Republican Senator Charles Grassley led the fight against loose federal credit card rules that cost us millions of dollars; in 2004, the same Republican Senator Charles Grassley used the federal credit card to buy a $50 million indoor rainforest for the state of Iowa.

Lest you imagine the Appropriations Committee letter is somehow benign, I remind you of what Alaska Senator Ted Stevens — former Chairman of the Appropriations Committee — said of the standards applied during his tenure...
"I ask every one of you, have you ever come to me as chairman of appropriations and tell me you needed help for your state and I have turned you down?" implored the Republican, who led the Senate Appropriations Committee until term limits forced him to step down this year.
Without reform, our standard for federal spending will remain "we'll spend money on anything somebody asks for, oversight be damned."

That's not governance; that's pillaging.

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NZ Bear has a Porkbusters page up on how politicians are voting on the Pork Barrel Reduction Act. Find out whether your Senator is a public servant or a barbarian here.

Meanwhile, Senator DeMint's office has a press release overview of the PBRA so you can figure out what it is your Senator is or is not supporting.
 
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The whole earmark thing has been an eye-opener even for a cynical old libertarian like me. I always knew there was a lot of "I’ll scratch your back and you scratch mine" going on. But I always viewed it as a complex game, in which the best players managed to make their goodies look good so the bill they were attached to would pass.

Now I find out it’s much worse than that. Just fill out a form, and it appears attached to a bill as it’s being voted on. No muss, no fuss! Pure influence peddling, completely unadulterated by any pretense of greater public good.

Even worse, when caught red-handed passing out the goodies, some Republicans such as Ted Stevens have the unmitigated gall to insist that this is what the federal government is for - distributing large amounts of money extorted from taxpayers to those who happen to have access to Congress, with little or no oversight.

This sort of thing pushes me into Claire Wolfe territory. (For those unfamiliar with her, she came up with the quotation "America is at that awkward stage. It’s too late to work within the system, but too early to shoot the bastards." ) I want to believe we can make a difference, but then I think of all the work done to accomplish the so-called "Republican Revolution", and this is the end result? A group of legislators more psychologically akin to third-world bureaucrats, who want to institutionalize corruption and then rig the game with campaign finance reform so that they can’t be removed from office. It’s disgusting.
 
Written By: Billy Hollis
URL: http://
Nice to see this getting played out live for the public to watch. More please and faster.
 
Written By: D
URL: http://

 
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