THERE’S PORK … AND THEN THERE’S PORK
Posted by Andrew Roman on December 12, 2009
The epoch of earmarks had seen its last days, the American people were told. Government waste was a thing of the past, Americans were advised. Fresh sounding, twenty-first century words like “transparency” and “post-partisan” were peppered into the national dialogue from a guy with great dulcet tones. Things were going to be different. Even people on the right were excited about the dawning of the new age.
Remember what the new guy told us: We were the people we were waiting for.
He was going to be everyone’s president, we were assured. He was going to hear our voices too, he promised. The Transformation Express was boarding on Track Forty-Four, and everyone was invited to grab their slice of the American pie.
But quicker than someone could say TARP, the new guy in charge – The One, we called him in the early days – started doing things that didn’t seem quite right. He spent three-quarters of a trillion dollars on door knobs, hiking trails, the study of rabbit feces, and new computers for government offices, all in the name of stimulating the economy. Not particularly stimulating. Without batting a lash, he mortgaged the future of those yet to be born, burdening them with epic costs so that their predecessors could avoid having to tough it out. He commanded government to take over segments of the private sector – like the auto industry – and made it his primary task to annex 16% of the American economy. He said earmarks were a thing of the past, then redefined the word so that he could let himself off the hook. He said over three million jobs would be created on his watch, only to see at least that many lost.
And now, the most fiscally irresponsible administration in this nation’s history is officially back in the earmark business to the tune of nearly $4 billion. That may not sound like much in today’s trillions-happy environment, but four thousand million is four thousand million … and that’s our money.
Richard Simon from the Los Angeles Times writes:
Reporting from Washington – Getting into the holiday spirit, the House of Representatives on Thursday approved a spending bill loaded with goodies for the folks back home.
Trails for Monterey Bay. An arts pavilion for Mississippi. Bus shelters for Bellflower.
In all, the bill contains 5,224 earmarks costing about $3.9 billion, according to Taxpayers for Common Sense, a watchdog group.
Though Democrats say they have cracked down on pork-barrel spending, critics attacked the bill as excessive.
“Clearly, the earmark culture has not been swept away,” Brian M. Riedl, a budget analyst at the conservative Heritage Foundation, blogged Thursday.
The $447-billion bill, which passed the Democratic-controlled House with no Republican votes and moved to the Senate, combines six spending bills for the fiscal year that began Oct. 1.
The measure brings total earmarks in this year’s spending bills to 7,577 at a cost of about $6 billion, according to Taxpayers for Common Sense. The Pentagon spending bill, the last of the annual appropriations bills, is expected to contain more earmarks than the omnibus bill, said Steve Ellis of the taxpayer group.
In the event you are keeping a score card at home, some of the other pet projects in the bill include a half-million dollars to help build a trench, thirteen-and-a-half million for the creation of a bus lane, a quarter-million for textile research, and almost two-hundred thousand for weather forecaster training.
Oh yeah … I almost forgot two-hundred thousand for the Aquatic Adventures Science Education Foundation in San Diego.
Thank God for that.
“When are we going to say, ‘Enough is enough?’ ” asked House Minority Leader John A. Boehner (R-Ohio), who does not seek earmarks. “I don’t know how worthy any of these projects are, but I do have to ask a question: Are they more important than our kids and grandkids who are going to have to pay the debt?”
It is the very essence of modern liberalism – to act without regard for what happens next. It is what the great Thomas Sowell calls being stuck in “stage one” thinking – failing to consider the ramifications of a policy decision that, for the moment, serves to make the boo-boo feel better.
It is closely related to “Do Something” Disease, which is a mutated strand of “Change For The Sake of Change” Syndrome.
It is a weakness of liberalism best exemplified in how Barack Obama has approached the economic crisis from the outset. To him, Americans aren’t capable of handling tough economic times. We aren’t resilient enough to brave a recession. We cannot face whatever hardships might lie ahead. We need the government to step in and make things better. We need him to tell us everything will eventually be all right. It is imperative that we make our kids and grandkids pay for it tomorrow so that we might live more comfortably today.
Mr. President, that is not America. It never has been.
Not only can Americans handle the most difficult of times, we do so with the understanding that it is our charge – our purpose – to make things better for the next generation. We weather the toughest of storms because there is no other alternative. We roll with the best life has to offer and we bear the brunt of the worst, aware of the immorality in mortgaging the future of our children, our civilization.
For example, what would we think of a parent who secured credit cards in his or her child’s name only to max them out?
I resent the fact that this president has engendered that sense of weakness in a nation built on rugged individualism. That he is willing to make things more difficult for yet unborn generations so that today can feel better may be the most disgraceful thing yet to come from the Messianic Age.