1.28.2004

WITH FRIENDS LIKE THESE...


The 1994 Republican congressional takeover came, at least in part, to a line in the sand drawn by the general public about runaway spending. At the time, some 2,000 pork additions were added to the Appropriations bill, the “omnibus” spending bill passed by Congress. Republicans were OUTRAGED. 2,000 individual wastes of the public’s money. Citizens Against Government Waste screamed bloody murder at some of the pointless allocations of the public’s money.

That was 1994, and there were 2,000 appropriations earmarks. Welcome to 2004, with the Republican trifecta in the House, Senate, and White House. As they say, “be careful what you wish for,” and we should’ve. This years “omnibus” bill contains some 7,931 earmarks. YIKES!

When the President talks about keeping down spending, he deserves nothing but hisses from the crowd. Forget defense and homeland security spending. Forget even for a moment entitlement spending (social security, medicare, welfare). In terms of just pure DISCRETIONARY spending, this President – our “Conservative” leader has been spending TWICE as fast as Bill Clinton. Double Yikes.

Below is a piece from the WSJ regarding some of the great things we taxpayers will be footing the bill for…


Riding the Omnibus

The Senate finally passed that $820 billion "omnibus" spending bill last week, and omnibus is certainly the word for it. According to an analysis by Taxpayers for Common Sense, this bill to finance much of the government for Fiscal Year 2004 contains an unprecedented 7,931 "earmarks" at a cost of $10.7 billion. Put another way, that's 15 sweetheart projects per Member.

There's $500,000 for a water taxi in Pittsburgh, $225,000 for the Wheels Museum in New Mexico, and $100,000 for "streetscaping" a tony Salt Lake City neighborhood. In the cholesterol-subsidy category is $2 million to market specialty Wisconsin cheeses and goods. Alaska alone, home of Senate Appropriations Kingpin Ted Stevens, got 296 earmarked expenditures.

Among cutting-edge research grants are $450,000 to study "Sudden Oak Disease Syndrome" and $90,00 for an olive fruitfly study. . . in France. Some lucky folks at the University of Hawaii bagged $200,000 to produce "Primal Quest," a film about Kalahari Bushmen who pursue their prey until either man or animal drops from exhaustion. Which sounds a lot like the appropriations process.

Congress is now entering a brave new budget year, with President Bush promising to restrain spending, for a change. Word is that his budget proposal, due next week, will cap domestic non-defense discretionary spending growth at 1%, except for homeland security, which will grow by 10%. Congressional veterans know what that means: All of those earmarks will have to be stuffed into the homeland security basket.

Unless, of course, Mr. Bush breaks type and exercises his veto power. Failing that, we see that this year's omnibus bill contained $500,000 for the University of Akron to finance its "Exercise in Hard Choices" program -- a simulation of the federal budget process. Maybe Congress should enroll.


SIDE NOTE: The best line I’ve heard about the McCain-Feingold laws was recently uttered by Paul Weyrich. He called it the “First Amendment, amendment Act” – Go Paul Go!!!

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