After promising unprecedented openness regarding Congress' pork barrel practices, House Democrats are moving in the opposite direction as they draw up spending bills for the upcoming budget year.
Democrats are sidestepping rules approved their first day in power in January to clearly identify "earmarks" - lawmakers' requests for specific projects and contracts for their states - in documents that accompany spending bills.
Rather than including specific pet projects, grants and contracts in legislation as it is being written, Democrats are following an order by the House Appropriations Committee chairman to keep the bills free of such earmarks until it is too late for critics to effectively challenge them.
Rep. David Obey, D-Wis., says those requests for dams, community grants and research contracts for favored universities or hospitals will be added spending measures in the fall. That is when House and Senate negotiators assemble final bills to send to President Bush.
As mentioned in the comment section in a previous post about this very subject, the problem isn't really a Democrat or Republican problem, it is a systemic problem. And what both Republicans and most recently, Democrats have proven, is they are incapable of keeping their word about reforming this system, and, if you can believe it, it has gotten worse instead of better since the Democrats have taken power. Don't believe me?
Feast you eyes on this number:
The House-Senate compromise bills due for final action in September cannot be amended and are subject to only one hour of debate, precluding challenges to individual projects.
Obey insists he is reluctantly taking the step because Appropriations Committee members and staff have not had enough time to fully review the 36,000 earmark requests that have flooded the committee.
Obviously those 36,000 requests are not all Democratic requests. So you tell me ... who is left to call these people on this nonsense? We're talking billions of dollars in spending which will never once be questioned, challenged or debated. Instead, on whim, they will be passed to directly benefit the reelection of the Congressman or woman who inserted them.
And that constitutes the promised earmark reform?
The lesson: never believe any party interested in taking Congressional power which promises to clean up the earmark mess. That party is lying through its teeth. There simply isn't any political will, on the whole, to get this done.
The problem? Since they don't have the will, the problem then is how to get it done. And of course, while we hear people in general decry such spending, they normally decry that which isn't spent in their district. How do I know? Because they keep returning the same people to Congress responsible for the spending there.
Correcting this problem would take leadership and a reformist mindset. Those are two traits consistently missing in Congress where we mostly get a herd mentality complimented by a 'go along to get along' concept of how to do business there. The primary purpose of the politicians who reach Congress is reelection, not service. And this is their dirty little method of helping ensure that.
If you think it's going to change anytime soon, I've got a bridge to nowhere in which you may be interested.
But McQ, the Democratic earmarks are good for the world, whereas Republican earmarks are corporate driven evils... /snark
(I realize that last bit was redundant, or should obviously be, yet there are many who view the world thru self-damaged prisms, both left and right, rendering them incapable of recognizing ’ironicalistical’ speech as well as ’satiristicalist’ comments.)
"the problem isn’t really a Democrat or Republican problem,..."
With all due respect, this statement is complete b*llsh*t. It’s a Republican AND a Democrat problem. To absolve these scoundrels of any responsibility because of the ’system’ is a farce. There is nothing preventing anyone from changing their behavior. There is simply scant honor in Congress and they think - correctly, sadly - that they can get away with it.
Timactual - I’m simply taking objection to the literal statement he wrote. Either he meant what he said or he didn’t. If anything, what you quoted contradicts what I quoted.
As to my definition of "the system" I don’t need one. It’s not my term. I don’t care about it - whatever it is precisely - since it isn’t anything that exists independently of the politicians. They created it, they can fix it. They are not victims of it. McQ can define what he means if he cares to since he refers to it. It’s ridiculous to refer to "the system" independently of the politicians.
The bottom line is that I’m not into giving the politicians any slack. Most of them deserve none and those that do (Coburn, for example) are smart enough to know that constituent anger is not directed at them - yet.