Free Markets, Free People

pork

The return of the monster 2,000 page debt-fueled bill

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nyone who remembers the recent passage of ObamaCare remembers the size of the bill – over 2,000 pages – and the fact that almost no one knew what was included in its pages.  Nancy Pelosi infamously said, “we’ll have to pass the bill to find out what’s in the bill”.

There was very little if any debate on the bill and it ended up being rammed through Congress under the reconciliation process.   We’re still finding out all of the little poison nuggets in that mess of a law.

Then November shows up and the American pubic spanks the Democrats for doing business the way they did, taking away 63 seats and a majority in the House in a bloodbath of an election.  Quit spending like drunken sailors and focus on jobs and the economy the people said.

And the Democrats learned what?  Nary a freakin’ thing.  They’ve never passed a budget for government this year in Congress – one of its main functions – but instead have passed a series of continuing resolutions to keep it funded.  That last continuing resolution is about to run out and – back up to their old tricks — Congressional Democrats have advanced a 2,000 page, 1.1 trillion dollar omnibus spending bill that is designed to fund government (and lard out the pork) through 2011.

Instead of bringing up a straight spending bill that funds government at its current levels (or, here’s an idea, maybe 2008 levels so they could show the American people they’re serious about cutting spending?  Nah.), we get 1.1 trillion in pork, payoffs and profligacy.

Same old Democrats doing the same old thing as though November never happened.

And they’re not alone:

Despite strong opposition from Thune and Senate GOP Leader Mitch McConnell (Ky.), several Senate Republicans are considering voting for the bill.

“That’s my intention,” said retiring Sen. Bob Bennett (R-Utah) when asked if he would support the package.

Bennett said earmarks in the bill might give some of his GOP colleagues reason to hesitate but wouldn’t affect his vote.

“It will be tough for some, but not for me,” he said.

GOP Sens. Kit Bond (Mo.), George Voinovich (Ohio) and Susan Collins (Maine) also told The Hill on Tuesday they would consider voting for the omnibus but want to review it before making a final decision.

And there you have it.  If Bennett wonders why he’s soon to be unemployed, it couldn’t be more plainly obvious than his remarks about this.  And as for the other “usual suspects”, apparently they don’t much care about the November message either (and if you happen to have one of those people as your Senator, you might want to remind them of that message).

This is the “business as usual” nonsense that has to stop and stop now.  This Congress has all but abrogated its budget responsibilities for the entire year and now, on the eve of a government shutdown and the end of their session, they decide to act. But not with a continuing resolution to keep essential government services funded until the new Congress can meet to take up the budget, but with a 2,000 page pork laden, 1.1 trillion debt-fueled monstrosity that will be allowed little debate and passed without most knowing what the hell they’re voting for.  On that principle alone, I’d vote “no”.  “No” until I can read and consider the bill, debate it, amend it and do what is supposed to be done before passing legislation.

There are a few things that have leaked out concerning what is in the bill:

The 1,924-page bill includes funding to implement the sweeping healthcare reform bill Congress passed earlier this year as well as additional funds for Internal Revenue Service agents, according to a senior GOP aide familiar with the legislation.

Obviously that doesn’t cost “1.1 trillion”, so there’s an awful lot more (I wonder if the IRS agents mentioned are those whose job it will be to enforce health insurance compliance through the tax system?).

So here we are again, faced with a debt-fueled, pork laden 1.1 trillion dollar last spending fling by Democrats and you have 4 Republican Senators thinking about supporting this nonsense in contravention of the will of the people.  For those like Bennett, Bond and Voinovich (both of the latter  I believe are retiring) there’s probably nothing that can be done to punish them or change their mind.  That’s the problem with the lame duck session of a Congress.  And it is, as I’ve pointed out before, a major problem.  There is no accountability mechanism for those who’ve been defeated or are retiring so they can do pretty much what they wish.  This is their last fling and they’re going to go out as they’ve always been – earmark addicts and debt spending fanatics who really don’t give a rip about what Americans have said they want. 

Collins, of course, is always ready to side with those who spend like fools and have gotten us in the shape we’re in.  And unfortunately Maine GOP voters have yet to ensure Collins understands their new priorities.  She’s not up for re-election again until 2014.  With that cushion and no apparent pressure from her constituency, she appears to feel free to proceed as usual.  However, we can’t afford “as usual” anymore.

Many think that stopping this bill and insisting that it be a clean, clear continuing resolution to fund government is a priority.  I’d be one of those.  But the GOP worries that if it does so, and government gets shut down right before the holidays, they’ll be blamed and suffer for it as they did when Newt Gingrich and Bill Clinton went toe-to-toe one year over spending and shutting down government.

I’m not so sure, given the current conditions, that Democrats would enjoy the same wide-spread support now that they did then.  Not given the midterms, not given the message very forcefully sent by the electorate and certainly not given this deficit building monstrosity of a bill being considered.

~McQ

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Rand Paul back-peddling on “no-pork” pledge?

One of the unstated questions many of us who have observed the Tea Party ask is how long before it become co-opted by one of the major parties. Because it is mostly a leaderless movement, that may end up being a very unlikely thing. But what about the candidates it backed? We’re told that 5 Senators and about 30 or so representatives were backed by local and regional Tea Parties and won their elections.

One of those was Rand Paul who, as the son of Ron Paul, came off as particularly libertarian in his approach to his job as a Senator from Kentucky. In fact, during his campaign, he made what his campaign web site labeled "Rand’s no-pork pledge":

Rand Paul appreciates Republican Senator Jim DeMint introducing today a one-year ban on earmark spending and a balanced-budget amendment. Rand strongly supports both initiatives and has made them centerpieces of his campaign for limited government, including his signing of the Citizens Against Government Waste “No pork pledge.”

“The Tea Party movement is an effort to get government under control,” Rand said. “I’m running to represent Kentuckians and to dismantle the culture of professional politicians in Washington. Leadership isn’t photo-ops with oversized fake cardboard checks. That kind of thinking is bankrupting our nation. Senator DeMint understands that and has taken action to stop it.”

It was that pledge along with other such promises that saw Paul ride a wave to electoral victory.

However, and it seems in politics today, there’s always a "however", it seems that even before taking office, Paul is having second thoughts about his pledge. Veronique de Rugy at the Corner points us to a quote in a Wall Street Journal article about Rand Paul which is, well, disappointing, to be kind about it:

In a bigger shift from his campaign pledge to end earmarks, he tells me that they are a bad “symbol” of easy spending but that he will fight for Kentucky’s share of earmarks and federal pork, as long as it’s doled out transparently at the committee level and not parachuted in in the dead of night. “I will advocate for Kentucky’s interests,” he says.

Of course there are plenty of ways to "advocate for Kentucky’s interests" without breaking a pledge. That, of course, requires a politician with imagination and the courage of his convictions.

If the quote is accurate, then I have no doubt that Rand Paul will rationalize and justify his way into becoming just another establishment Republican Senator who sells out (in this case, almost immediately) to the “system” in DC.  Another in a long line of  “go-along-to get-along-old-boy-network” that is within virtual inches of destroying this country.

I have to wonder how the Tea Party movement, which spent so much time, effort and money to get this guy elected feels about this quote?  I’ll be interested to hear Paul’s explanation concerning what the WSJ says he said.

But frankly, and assuming he wasn’t misquoted,  it’s another indication that much of our political class is a collection of opportunists whose only real quest is the accumulation of personal power.  They’ll say whatever it takes to win with no intention of sticking with the principles they claim.   While, as Paul says, earmarks are indeed more symbolic that significant, they were significant enough when he was seeking office to take a pledge not to seek them.  A pledge voluntarily taken by someone who, as usual, styled himself as “different” and an “outsider” who was going to change the way we do business.

Instead, at the first opportunity, he back-peddles and attempts to rationalize breaking his pledge to “advocate for Kentucky’s interests”.

I hope it’s not true but in reality it appears to be business as usual.

~McQ

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