Wasn’t it not too long ago that people were in a fever pitch over earmarks?
House Democratic leaders are offering billions in federal funds for lawmakers’ pet projects large and small to secure enough votes this week to pass an Iraq funding bill that would end the war next year.
So far, the projects — which range from the reconstruction of New Orleans levees to the building of peanut storehouses in Georgia — have had little impact on the tally. For a funding bill that establishes tough new readiness standards for deploying combat forces and sets an Aug. 31, 2008, deadline to bring the troops home, votes do not come cheap.
But at least a few Republicans and conservative Democrats who otherwise would vote "no" remain undecided, as they ponder whether they can leave on the table millions of dollars for constituents by opposing the $124 billion war funding bill due for a vote on Thursday.
Now MoveOn.Org, that bastion of everything anti-American, has decided they will get behind the bill:
As the opposition heats up, the Democrats have had some successes in their furious search for support. Yesterday, MoveOn.org announced that with 85 percent of its members backing the bill, the liberal activist group will begin working for its passage. That could prove to be a major boost for Democratic leaders struggling to keep in line the most liberal wing of the party, which wants to cut off funds for the war by the end of this year.
And now we see how the Democrats, who promised to end all this kind of bribery, will try to get this thing passed….bribery. Take a look at this:
Pork in War Bill
It is also noteworthy that Washington is subsidizing farmers whose average income is $81,588, well above the national average income. Furthermore, the majority of farm subsidies are distributed to commercial farmers, who report an average household income of $191,115.
And that $4 billion in subsidies is not all. Congress would also provide:
$25 million for spinach growers;
$100 million for citrus growers;
$25 million for livestock farmers;
$74 million for peanut storage; and
$283 million in milk subsidies.
In addition to being wasteful, these payments are also duplicative. Assistance for livestock farmers and specialty crop growers are already covered by Section 32 disaster payments. Dairy assistance is already funded under the Milk Income Loss Contract (MILC) program. Finally, the USDA may have to spend millions of dollars to administer this complex law, because it may require farmers to submit large amounts of additional paperwork.
The spending spree extends well beyond farm subsidies. It also includes:
$120 million for the shrimp and menhaden fishing industries;
$60 million for fisheries;
$35 million for NASA;
$5 million for those engaged in "breeding, rearing, or transporting live fish" ;
$6.4 million for additional salaries and expenses for the House of Representatives; and
$16 million for additional office space for the House of Representatives.
The supplemental would also provide approximately $735 million for the State Children’s Health Insurance Program (SCHIP). Under this provision, the 14 states that chose to expand SCHIP coverage without ensuring that they had resources to pay for it would be rewarded with a huge bailout from the 36 states that planned responsibly. The clear result would be to encourage more states to make massive new financial commitments and then wait for Washington—using money from taxpayers in other states—to bail them out.
A $400 million appropriation for the Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) represents the taxpayer bill for gimmicks Congress employed last year. One year ago, Congress voted to take $1 billion in LIHEAP funding designated for 2007 and use it in 2006. When asked if this policy would simply create a 2007 shortfall that taxpayers would have to make up, proponents such as Olympia Snowe (R-ME) promised that the shift would not cost taxpayers a dime. Now in 2007, right on cue, Congress is calling for $400 million to replenish the "LIHEAP shortfall." Congress’s spending gimmicks almost always cost taxpayers millions.
Some who can be bribed:
"She hates the games the Democrats are playing," said Guy Short, chief of staff to Rep. Marilyn Musgrave (R-Colo.), a staunch conservative who remains undecided, thanks to billions of dollars in the bill for drought relief and agriculture assistance. "But Representative Musgrave was just down in southeastern Colorado, talking to ranchers and farmers, and they desperately need this assistance."
A few Republicans are at least considering a vote for the bill, including Reps. Wayne T. Gilchrest and Roscoe G. Bartlett of Maryland. Some conservative Democrats who had been expected to vote no on Thursday are wavering.
For more than a year, Rep. Charles Boustany Jr. (R) has tried unsuccessfully to secure federal funds to prevent salt water from intruding on rice fields in his lowland Louisiana district. So it came as a surprise last week when Boustany found $15 million in the House’s huge war spending bill for his rice farmers. He hadn’t even asked that the bill include it.
Rep. Bobby Jindal (R-La.), who is running for his state’s governorship, has conspicuously refused to say whether he can vote against $2.9 billion for Gulf Coast hurricane recovery, including $1.3 billion for New Orleans levee repairs.
Rep. Jerry Moran (R-Kan.), usually a reliable vote for the Republican leadership, is undecided as he ponders how he can vote against drought relief he has worked for months to secure.
As you noticed I highlighted just the Republicans above. We all know how the Democrats will vote on this travesty but these Republicans need a big message sent. That message being we will NOT accept a cut and run bill. Click on the Representatives name above and contact them please. As I find more names of those Republicans wavering I will update this post. If you find one please email me the info and I will include it.
Thankfully, and not surprisingly, Bush is not going to stand (PDF) for this obvious bribery tactic:
The war supplemental should remain focused on the needs of the troops and should not be used as a vehicle for added non-emergency spending and policy proposals, especially domestic proposals, that should be fully vetted and considered on their own merits, such as minimum wage, various tax proposals, and changes in contracting policy. This bill adds billions in unrequested spending that is largely unjustified and non-emergency. Because of the excessive and extraneous non-emergency spending it contains, if this legislation were presented to the President, he would veto the bill.
Congress should reject this legislation, and promptly send the President a responsible bill that provides the funding and flexibility our troops need, without holding funding for the troops hostage to unrelated spending.
I feel a showdown comng on.
Also check out Mark Tapscott blog where he points out that there is a group fighting this bill:
Citizens Against Government Waste (CAGW) is one of the anchors of the Porkbusters Coalition and the group is using an approach to citizen activism that made all the difference in the campaign to win passage of the Coburn-Obama Federal Funding Accountability and Transparency Act of 2006.
CAGW has posted a petition on their web site where they will post the names of every Member of Congress who agrees to oppose the Iraq Supplemental Funding if it comes to the House floor stuffed with pork. President Bush originally asked Congress for $105 billion, but the measure came out of the House Appropriations Committee with more than $20 billion in earmarks and other pork barrel provisions.
As of this morning, Rep. Jeb Hensarling, R-TX, is the only Member to sign the pledge, but I expect lots of additional names will be added as the word about the petition gets around Capitol Hill this week. Presumably, CAGW will also list the names of Members who decline to sign the sign pledge.
Finally, the Heritage Foundation has something to say about this bill: