07.09.2010 0

Pelosi’s Kleptocracy

Cynical, abusive Leftist Democrats just cannot stop stealing. They cannot help themselves. Call them the Kleptocrats.

In 2006, Democrats took control of Congress in large part because of voter discontent with Republicans’ spending habits and the appearance of corruption. Rhetoric that midterm election year was of transparency and fiscal responsibility. Of course, as soon as they took power, they took on the majority’s functional role of distributing goodies to special interests. Some symbolic reforms were made, but nothing substantive.

Thanks to the financial crisis, Democrats swept the 2008 elections under the banner of “change” and dissatisfaction over government bailouts to politically-favored firms and to delinquent homeowners. This ushered in… the age of “stimulus” in 2009, a Renaissance of government spending, more bailouts, and unparalleled largesse.

$862 billion, subsequent omnibus legislation, and trillion dollar deficits later, suddenly Democrats were once again the Party that spends too much. The waste included in those bills was on a scale never seen, and the national debt, now $13 trillion, has never grown at a faster pace.

This drew criticism from all sides of the political spectrum, such that today spending is once again a dirty word. Throw in the sovereign debt crisis overseas in 2010 and now wasteful spending has come with a far higher risk premium for the majority. Democrats find themselves in a similar position Republicans did in 2006.

In response to concerns over spending excess, in March 2009, Pelosi undertook some more token reforms, including so-called earmark “reform”. One of the rules: special spending requests by House members could no longer go to for-profits, they could only go to nonprofits, local government, universities, and charities.

As reported by the Cleveland Plain Dealer, no sooner had House Appropriations Committee Chairman David Obey changed the rules regarding the awarding of earmarks to for-profit entities that House Democrats simply told previous beneficiaries of taxpayer subsidies to form partnerships with universities or other not-for-profit organizations.

That way, the companies could still get the dough. And the representatives could still get the big campaign donations.

So, nothing “changed” at all, despite all of the fanfare of bringing an end to the “culture of corruption.” Earmarks still are going out, just in a different form. House Democrats have once again proven that the temptation of the majority to subsidize and thereby buy off special interests is irresistible.

The Plain Dealer reports Congressman Tim Ryan’s (D-OH) office justifying the practice: “Our office is, and has always been, in compliance with all earmark regulations. Per Chairman Obey, the new clauses were instituted ‘to prevent for-profits from masquerading as nonprofits,’ but does not forbid partnerships between established nonprofit and for-profit entities. It is the role of our office to actively pursue appropriate government support for projects… Should the committee decide to create a rule banning partnerships, we will comply with that rule…”

By that, Ryan’s office apparently means that they will then tell the companies to simply form their own non-profits. After all, that’s what his colleague, Nancy Kaptur (D-OH), told Imaging Systems Technology, an Ohio defense contractor, to do. They had received $8.4 million in earmarks from Kaptur in the past, and under her direction the company established the not-for-profit Great Lakes Research Center. Kaptur (lush with tens of thousands in new campaign donations) requested $10.4 million for the new organization.

One way or another, appropriators find a way to keep right on stealing from the taxpayers. Ryan and Kaptur are joined by Corrine Brown (D-FL), James Moran (D-VA), Maurice Hinchey (D-NY), Ciro Rodriguez (D-TX), Gabrielle Giffords (D-AZ), and Steve Rothman (D-NJ). All engaged in similar practices.

So, Obama, Pelosi and Obey’s grand proclamation forbidding earmarks really had no impact at all, since it was set up to bypass their own rule. They missed an opportunity for real fiscal reform, and instead ushered in a kleptocracy of the first order.

Meanwhile taxpayers are demanding that government subsidies, wasteful spending, and picking winners and losers — all with their hard-earned money — come to an end. When such dissatisfaction reaches critical mass, the American people have proven they will “throw the bums out.” That may be what is happening now.

Bill Wilson is President of Americans for Limited Government.

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