01.01.2009 0

Pork Bowl Bill Proceeds to Passage

  • On: 01/12/2009 10:41:01
  • In: Congressional Earmarks
  • By Robert Romano

    “[I]f we continue to go through this year where anyone who asks for an amendment or maybe a few moments of debate has made a spectacle of by saying we’re going to be here this weekend to vote if you don’t give me unanimous consent to do this vote when I want to, you can’t have an amendment. If my colleagues on my side continue to accept this, there’s going to be no such thing as a Republican party. Then this country that we love will continue to deteriorate.”—Senator Jim DeMint (R-SC), January 11th, 2009, on the floor of the Senate.

    Yesterday, while America watched their heroes of the gridiron battle it out over yards and inches, there was another battle being waged in the hallowed halls of Congress. And as usual, it was between the few who wish to protect the American taxpayer, and those who wish to take him and her for every cent their worth. It wasn’t even close.

    By a vote of 66-12, cloture for S.22, the “Omnibus Public Land Management Act of 2009”, passed. Without question, the $10 billion, 1296-page, pork-laden legislation will proceed to ultimate passage and enactment in one form or another.

    Understandably, $10 billion may seem to the spendthrift salons like a pittance compared to $700 billion for TARP funds they’re already in the process of dealing out, or $300 billion for foreclosure “prevention”. But, it still represents about $67 for every adult in America. And in today’s economy, they would undoubtedly prefer to take the cash.

    The Reid-Omnibus giveaway represents a culture of favors, kickbacks, and payoffs to favored special interests. It includes such gems as $5 million for botanical gardens in Florida and Hawaii, $14 million for tropical research in Panama, $12 million for an orchid museum in Maryland, and $1 billion to rescue salmon in California.

    Were that not enough, the bill also would on substance cordon off more than 8.8 trillion cubic feet of natural gas and 300 million barrels of oil out of production in Wyoming. Just months after the price of oil hit record highs of nearly $150 a barrel—an economic catastrophe that contributed greatly to the current recession—Congress has once again returned to its insidious agenda of restricting energy production.

    This portends where the body will stand on future votes. And it alerts the American people that indeed members actually like high energy prices since it reduces consumption. The price spikes of 2008 may have only been the beginning, and as Congress reasserts its iron grip on the production of hydrocarbon fuels—oil, natural gas, and coal—one should rationally expect the economic consequences to eventually be dire.

    And Republicans in the Senate, who allegedly are against this—they seemed to campaign in favor of removing restrictions on energy production—raised barely a whisper of protest against these provisions. That is, except for the tiny handful of remaining conservatives.

    You see, there were 12 heroes in the Senate yesterday who did stand alongside the American taxpayer against pork-barrel spending and the energy restrictions. They are: Sam Brownback (R-KS), Tom Coburn (R-OK), Bob Corker (R-TN), Jim DeMint (R-SC), Chuck Grassley (R-IA), Jim Inhofe (R-OK), Johnny Isakson (R-GA), Mike Johanns (R-NE), John McCain (R-AZ), Jeff Sessions (R-AL), Richard Shelby (R-AL), and John Thune (R-SD).

    They deserve kudos for doing the right thing; for standing on principle even though there was hardly any hope of blocking the bill. But for the other members of the Republican caucus who did not even bother to register a vote—or even voted in favor of the Pork-Barrel P(l)ayoff—they must consider whether they even think a two-party system is even worth having, and what it is they even stand for, if anything.

    A party without principle will not long endure, just as the nation without principled leadership will continue down the road to serfdom.

    When the biggest issue facing the nation is a credit crisis, and thus a debt crisis, the critical move for conservatives to make is to fight against debt expansion in all of its forms. If Senate Republicans continue to cede the argument on deficit-spending, the country will indeed continue to deteriorate, as Senator DeMint suggests, and the American people will truly have no alternative presented. If Congressional Republicans cannot find a way to stop this, no one will.

    Yesterday’s Pork Bowl was indeed a debacle, with the team defending the American taxpayer from outright theft in these times of economic dire straits on the losing side. They were outnumbered—as they always have been—by a consortium of Senators from both parties whose solution for all of the nation’s ills is to spend, borrow, and print yet more money. Nonetheless, it is time for those who will find a way—those who will fight to the end for true change—to be counted as standing with the American people.

    The battle has just begun. And it will not be won by going along to get along.

    Robert Romano is the Editor of ALG News Bureau.

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