T Nation

Dems Double Pork Pleasure

I vaguely remember the Democrats campaigning against profligate spending in Congress back in 2006… If the GOP doesn’t define its Congressional campaigns around the issue of earmarks and corrupt spending, while highlighting that the Dems have in fact been in power for the past two years - and pledge to eliminate earmarks - their loss will be their own fault. People are generally against wasteful government spending - and particularly when it’s not on themselves - so highlighting this useless pork and making it a national issue (because each expenditure tends to look good to the voters in the district benefiting from the spending) is probably the only way to control it…

[i]Democrats more than double the pork pleasure
posted at 10:15 am on June 7, 2008 by Ed Morrissey
Send to a Friend | printer-friendly

Remember when Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid claimed that they would reduce pork and make what was left utterly transparent, after winning control of both chambers of Congress in 2006? Well, they certainly don’t, as an AP analysis published today shows. Transparency has improved somewhat, but earmark requests have escalated (emphasis mine) ( http://ap.google.com/article/ALeqM5hjH0AxRZYYsl2uz6hfKQCPqEbjCgD915568O0 ):

[quote]For all the outcry, most earmarks have much to commend them. Just because a lawmaker arranges a project for his home district doesn't mean it isn't worthy. But many also go to causes or projects that, on the surface, don't appear all that necessary.

Anti-pork watchdogs, for example, point to the $1.8 million in five earmarks for Chicago's Shedd Aquarium, which ran $8 million in the black last year and has embarked on a four-year, $100 million fundraising campaign. With that kind of money, why should taxpayers fund a $400,000 program earmarked by Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama to help the aquarium conduct a program aimed at preventing juvenile delinquency, watchdog groups ask.

Despite such questions and public outrage over high-profile earmarking abuses, the system that now-jailed lobbyist Jack Abramoff once called "the favor factory" is still running full tilt. Congress disclosed 11,234 earmarks totaling $14.8 billion in bills covering government spending this year, according to Taxpayers for Common Sense, a Washington-based watchdog group. The White House puts the total at $18 billion, including the amounts that lawmakers added to what President Bush sought for specific projects.

A new earmarking cycle begins this month as the House and Senate Appropriations committees reveal spending bills for the 2009 budget year that starts Oct. 1. [b]The House committee alone has 23,438 earmark requests before it, so many that its Web site for accepting requests froze up and the deadline for receiving them had to be extended. [/b]Lawmakers are unlikely to obtain many earmarks in time for Election Day, but they may tout them in hundreds of press releases anyway.[/quote]

Pelosi promised less pork during the 2006 campaign. When faced with a deluge of pork requests, more than double the number approved the year before by the entire Congress, did the Democrats shut down the application process? No - they extended it. Does the House leadership think that 23,438 pork-barrel project requests is too small?

How many of these earmarks support profitable enterprises like the Shedd Aquarium? If they produced an $8 million profit last year, they hardly need $400,000 of our money for any purpose, even the odd notion that an aquarium can somehow impact juvenile delinquency. As the article explains in detail, the purpose of these earmarks isn�??t to educate youth but to re-elect politicians by putting taxpayer money in the hands of local activists.

Republicans didn’t cover themselves in glory during their porkfest from 2001-2006, and many of them still haven�??t learned from their mistakes. However, the Democrats have managed to outdo the GOP during their short run at leadership. Their transparency efforts fell far short of what was required, they air-dropped over 9,000 pork items into the last budget despite supposedly prohibiting that practice, and now they’re preparing a pork roast on a scale not yet seen or contemplated.

If the GOP had any sense, they would take this opportunity to declare an immediate and unilateral moratorium on pork and defy the Democrats to match them. They have an opportunity to take action on reform instead of just talking incessantly about it. Republicans will not win a majority in either chamber unless they demonstrate real leadership on real reform and demonstrate a clear difference between themselves and the Democrats on spending.[/i]

Too bad the no one understands that earmarks aren’t the problem. It’s spending that is the problem. Earmarking is just allocation of money that is already budgeted – which is congress’ job to do. If members of congress don’t like pork projects then funding shouldn’t be approved; however, it is every member of Congress’ duty to make sure his constituency is being taken care of which requires earmarking. That is why they get elected – to give us back our money that Uncle Sam has taken from us.

The system is broken and earmarks are just a scapegoat not the problem.

[quote]LIFTICVSMAXIMVS wrote:
Too bad the no one understands that earmarks aren’t the problem. It’s spending that is the problem. Earmarking is just allocation of money that is already budgeted – which is congress’ job to do. If members of congress don’t like pork projects then funding shouldn’t be approved; however, it is every member of Congress’ duty to make sure his constituency is being taken care of which requires earmarking. That is why they get elected – to give us back our money that Uncle Sam has taken from us.

The system is broken and earmarks are just a scapegoat not the problem.[/quote]

Oh, you’re quite correct. The money will be spent irrespective - for this budget, or any approved budget. But the key to earmarks is that they are an incentive to individual congressmen to vote for the overall spending bills - each member gets his own little guaranteed slices of bacon, and knows he will be able to get it. So if you take those away, you change the incentives - at least for awhile, until they figure out some new way to get their guaranteed bacon (probably with behind-the-scenes deals with administrative agencies).

Earmarks are a problem, for a number of reasons. They distort votes. They waste enormous amounts of money. And, they act as a litmus test - if politicians can’t deal with the low-hanging fruit of earmarks, they can’t possibly be counted on to address larger spending and entitlement reform.

[quote]thunderbolt23 wrote:
Earmarks are a problem, for a number of reasons. They distort votes. They waste enormous amounts of money. And, they act as a litmus test - if politicians can’t deal with the low-hanging fruit of earmarks, they can’t possibly be counted on to address larger spending and entitlement reform.

[/quote]

Clearly the tax cuts a far, far, far, far, more enormous waste of money.

and yes we should kind of do something about earmarks but 17.2 billion isn’t our actual problem. Stopping the war clearly bigger bang for the buck, and obviously letting the tax deferrals expire, so we can repay them for the next decade or so a wiser choice.

Also, odd the articles leaves out the worst (still) pigs…

I had a long, drawn out response drawn, and almost hit submit… then I caught a look at the 2 figure competitors and missclicked losing the entire post.

So… earmarks blow. I agree with BB’s second post.

[quote]100meters wrote:

Clearly the tax cuts a far, far, far, far, more enormous waste of money.

[/quote]

People keeping their own money is a waste?

[quote]100meters wrote:

Clearly the tax cuts a far, far, far, far, more enormous waste of money.[/quote]

Negative. Tax cuts coupled with spending cuts is good for the economy and good for government generally. The issue is is not that taxes were cut, it’s that spending exploded under the mantra of “deficits don’t matter”, and earmarks are part of that way of thinking.

More money in the hands of the private sector is never a waste. “Waste” is measured absolutely in how the government spends its money - and the government has done a horrid job. The Republicans under Bush were awful - and Pelosi’s Democrats are even worse.

I have nothing but scorn for Bush and his Republican accomplices on fiscal matters (and was actually hoping for a Democrat to vote for as an alternative), but the Democrats - with their unfailing desires to create an American version of the Euro-state - have no interest in fiscal prudence.

[quote]100meters wrote:

Also, odd the articles leaves out the worst (still) pigs…
http://www.reuters.com/article/marketsNews/idUSN0233511020080402[/quote]

Certain Republicans definitely have a bacon problem. That said, some of those top porkers are leaving (Good riddance). Also, the Democrats campaigned in 2006 on a promise to end this stuff, which needs to be done institutionally because of the incentives to individual members - as long as it is allowed, they will do it (and they might even be punished for not doing it, depending on their district/constituents).

Like terms limits, it’s a rule that needs to be imposed to get the best outcome for the majority.

And the Dems are the majority - and they already promised to reform the process (which they have not done).

So, good issue for the GOP, should they choose to adopt it - and again, if they don’t they deserve to lose (and if they do and then ignore their promises a la Pelosi and Reid, then they’ll need to be punished electorally again).

Line item veto

[quote]pittbulll wrote:
Line item veto[/quote]

It would be great but it would also be used irresponsibly.

[quote]Zap Branigan wrote:
pittbulll wrote:
Line item veto

It would be great but it would also be used irresponsibly.

[/quote]

=/ It would be used for political reasons irresponsibly 90% of the time. Declared unconstitutional for a reason ya know.

[quote]pittbulll wrote:
Line item veto[/quote]

Unfortunately, the Republican Congress voted to give that power to Clinton in the 90s, and it was declared unconstitutional at that time by the USSC (on the basis that it was an unconstitutional delegation of legislative power to the executive branch), so we’ll need to amend the Constitution to get that.

[quote]Zap Branigan wrote:
100meters wrote:

Clearly the tax cuts a far, far, far, far, more enormous waste of money.

People keeping their own money is a waste? [/quote]

Yes, paying that money back with interest is clearly a waste.

[quote]thunderbolt23 wrote:
100meters wrote:

Clearly the tax cuts a far, far, far, far, more enormous waste of money.

Negative. Tax cuts coupled with spending cuts is good for the economy and good for government generally. The issue is is not that taxes were cut, it’s that spending exploded under the mantra of “deficits don’t matter”, and earmarks are part of that way of thinking.

More money in the hands of the private sector is never a waste. “Waste” is measured absolutely in how the government spends its money - and the government has done a horrid job. The Republicans under Bush were awful - and Pelosi’s Democrats are even worse.

I have nothing but scorn for Bush and his Republican accomplices on fiscal matters (and was actually hoping for a Democrat to vote for as an alternative), but the Democrats - with their unfailing desires to create an American version of the Euro-state - have no interest in fiscal prudence.
[/quote]

Cutting out the tiny 17 billion dollars in earmarks is not going to get us back to level. The main issue is the tax cuts.

And again, historically Dems better at fiscal prudence. No reason to expect Obama would be any different.

[quote]

100meters wrote:

Clearly the tax cuts a far, far, far, far, more enormous waste of money.

Zap Branigan wrote:

People keeping their own money is a waste?

100meters wrote:
Yes, paying that money back with interest is clearly a waste.[/quote]

Rein in Social Security and Medicare and this won’t be problematic - it’s a spending issue - if you’re not spending as much, no need to borrow to pay back the money you’re letting people keep.

[quote]100meters wrote:

Cutting out the tiny 17 billion dollars in earmarks is not going to get us back to level. The main issue is the tax cuts.[/quote]

Numerically, it isn’t a huge amount - that wasn’t the point. The point is to prove fiscal discipline at the nickel and dime level before you can do it at the higher levels. The other point is that the federal government shouldn’t be in the business of doling out money to these projects that have nothing to do with federal policy or federal interest.

And not surprising you have no interest in curtailing earmarks - or, as liberal Democrats style them, the currency of the realm. Earmarks are naked redistributionist economics - it’s no wonder the liberal Democrats see no evil in them.

Incorrect - largely because your paint-by-numbers approach ignores the factors of having a Congress and President from different parties and economic conditions, for starters.

You can’t have “fiscal prudence” and “ever expanding government” - ask the Republicans, who covered themselves in the robes of Democrats over the past 7 years. There is nothing prudent about Euro-state spending, even if you magically wind up with a balanced budget.

ADDENDUM: After reading 100meters’ partisan fragments, I’m reminded of the left-liberal approach of thinking a balanced budget as the lone yardstick of fiscal sanity. A government could eat up 75% of GDP in a bloated, sputtering welfare state, and as long as taxes were extortionately high enough to balance that leviathan budget, left-liberals would be patting themselves on the back for “fiscal prudence”.

It’s nonsense, of course - but it demonstrates the left-liberal’s unstated passion for an expanded state coupled with unapologetic large scale redistributionist economics: after all, after exploding government spending to put a chicken in every pot, we’ll need to raise taxes to pay for it all. Who knew the dead letter of rewarmed socialism was our lodestar for “fiscal prudence”…?

[quote]thunderbolt23 wrote:
100meters wrote:

Cutting out the tiny 17 billion dollars in earmarks is not going to get us back to level. The main issue is the tax cuts.

Numerically, it isn’t a huge amount - that wasn’t the point. The point is to prove fiscal discipline at the nickel and dime level before you can do it at the higher levels. The other point is that the federal government shouldn’t be in the business of doling out money to these projects that have nothing to do with federal policy or federal interest.

[/quote]

So the path to fiscal responsibility is to first eliminate the tiniest problem.

The reality is this another phony issue, that of course McCain will repeat over and over, because he can’t talk about the cost of his tax cuts, and/or be honest on what exactly he would have to gut to balance the budget. So he talks about “earmarks”, lies about their costs, and then changes his mind (clearly going to keep quite a few earmarks)

Of course today he says he’s going to veto every beer. Economy not his strong suit.

As already pointed out, republicans worse on earmarks…even now. Truly a fake issue for you.

[quote]

And again, historically Dems better at fiscal prudence. No reason to expect Obama would be any different.

Incorrect - largely because your paint-by-numbers approach ignores the factors of having a Congress and President from different parties and economic conditions, for starters.

You can’t have “fiscal prudence” and “ever expanding government” - ask the Republicans, who covered themselves in the robes of Democrats over the past 7 years. There is nothing prudent about Euro-state spending, even if you magically wind up with a balanced budget.[/quote]

It actually doesn’t ignore those factors. Democrats just better at the economy.

[quote]thunderbolt23 wrote:

ADDENDUM: After reading 100meters’ partisan fragments, I’m reminded of the left-liberal approach of thinking a balanced budget as the lone yardstick of fiscal sanity. A government could eat up 75% of GDP in a bloated, sputtering welfare state, and as long as taxes were extortionately high enough to balance that leviathan budget, left-liberals would be patting themselves on the back for “fiscal prudence”.

It’s nonsense, of course - but it demonstrates the left-liberal’s unstated passion for an expanded state coupled with unapologetic large scale redistributionist economics: after all, after exploding government spending to put a chicken in every pot, we’ll need to raise taxes to pay for it all. Who knew the dead letter of rewarmed socialism was our lodestar for “fiscal prudence”…?[/quote]

The percentage growth of republican submitted budgets, total federal, and non-defense, higher than democratic submitted budgets.

Next phony issue?

[quote]BostonBarrister wrote:

100meters wrote:

Clearly the tax cuts a far, far, far, far, more enormous waste of money.

Zap Branigan wrote:

People keeping their own money is a waste?

100meters wrote:
Yes, paying that money back with interest is clearly a waste.

Rein in Social Security and Medicare and this won’t be problematic - it’s a spending issue - if you’re not spending as much, no need to borrow to pay back the money you’re letting people keep.[/quote]

Cut those and more. Alot more. But don’t campaign on it because you’ll never get voted in. I mean that’s my point here. Earmarks a phony issue, because what really would be cut would hurt sooooooooooo many americans and have a real negative impact on the economy.

But the further reality is Republicans don’t cut taxes and spending. No reason to think McCain will do it either. Saying to voters, "while I have been happy to receive a disability check for decades now, I’m going to now cut your direly needed benefits, in order provide further tax cuts to very wealthy people and oil companies. The result of which will surely hurt our already ailing economy. Vote McCain!