01.01.2009 0

Putting the Pig Before the Bacon

  • On: 01/28/2009 10:21:44
  • In: Barack Obama
  • By Robert Romano

    “We will ban all earmarks in the recovery package. And I describe earmarks as the process by which individual members insert pet projects without review. So what I’m saying is, we’re not having earmarks in the recovery package, period.”—Then President-elect Barack Obama, January 6th, 2009.

    President Barack Obama may be serious about banning pork in the new “stimulus” bill. And, perhaps, no individual members of Congress will insert “pet projects” (i.e. earmarks) into the legislation that is ultimately passed by Congress and presented for his signature.

    But, of course, in the final analysis, that does not mean that the $825 billion legislation will be any less wasteful. Because, it will not matter to the American taxpayer whether the bacon was added to the package piecemeal—or if the entire pig was served up upon introduction, as appears to be the case here.

    As ALG News reported yesterday in “The Top-Ten Bottom Feeders,” the debt stimulus has plenty of pork: $300 billion to bail out state governments from record deficits, $4.19 billion for “neighborhood stabilization” that’s really a disguised payout to groups like ACORN that are made eligible for said funds, $650 million for digital TV coupons, and $21 million for sod.

    According to top Capitol Hill sources close to the process, instead of the typical earmark process—the Christmas tree decoration approach as described by Mr. Obama in the above quotation—pet projects have been inserted as specific sections of the bill itself. In short, why nickel and dime it, when you can just go whole hog?

    This cynical approach gives the new President political cover to “deliver” on his promise—and yet affords individual members the opportunity to once again bring home the bacon.

    It’s a lot like having your cake and eating it, too. To the President’s credit, Mr. Obama did ask yesterday for Congressional leaders to remove a so-called “family planning” provision allocating some $200 million for contraceptives that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi had touted as a cost-cutting measure. Press Secretary Robert Gibbs said that such a measure—which was really a special interest payout to the Planned Parenthood lobby—“does not belong in the economic recovery and reinvestment plan.” That’s probably because procreation hasn’t a wit to do with economic recovery or reinvestment.

    And, of course, neither does bailing out state governments from deficits that they created by profligate spending to the tune of $300 billion. Nor $4.19 billion for “neighborhood stabilization.” Nor $600 million for new cars for the federal government. Etc., etc. Will Mr. Obama be going through the legislation with a fine tooth comb to find the bacon bits that are sprinkled on just about every page?—“period.”

    Even if he did, individual members of Congress just may be a bit too greedy—just a little too power-hungry, to even help their Party’s leader to keep an important promise. Other examples of disguised earmarks are highlighted at SenateConservatives.com: $70 million for a supercomputer at National Center for Environmental Prediction in Camp Springs, Maryland, or $250 million for repairs to a NASA facility in Texas and California, $70 million of which “is to improve NASA’s supercomputing capabilities…” Supercomputers are clearly weighing heavily on the salons’ minds.

    Unfortunately, media outlets like MSNBC chose to print Mr. Obama’s contentions verbatim without one word of caution. And without one mention of opposition from those on the other side of the aisle—or even within his own party.

    That may make for very good public relations for the new President. But it does nothing to ensure that waste, fraud, and abuse are not allocated, aggregated, and perpetrated in the $825 billion boondoggle headed for Mr. Obama’s desk.

    The truth is, once Congress brings him the bill, they can bring home the bacon—without ever mentioning anything so distasteful as earmarks, pork, pet projects, or outright political payoffs.

    Robert Romano is the Editor of ALG News Bureau.

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