Wednesday, May 30, 2007
The "Do-Nothing Congress"
Cass writes a great piece, and it certainly is worth the read. Where my blood started
After all, things looked very different last fall, when Nancy Pelosi was promising a Democratic Congress that within its first 100 hours would pass laws that would raise the minimum wage, bring the troops home from Iraq, expand health benefits, reform immigration laws, make college affordable for all, secure energy independence, and address broad taxing and spending issues. She also promised to "drain the swamp" - changing a Congress that failed to address ethical problems of individual members and that used "earmark" provisions to give pork to constituents and favors to lobbyists. Harry Reid and colleagues on the Senate side had similar, though more muted, messages.
After 140 days, however, congressional Democrats left town with no significant accomplishments, one long-delayed bill finally enacted into law, and lots to make fun of. There was no increase in morality, no magically bipartisan era, no sweeping enactment of a coherent agenda for change, akin to what Republicans promised in their Contract With America in 1994. Instead, the 110th Congress has been a combination of "now I'll get mine" and "now you'll get yours!"
to boil, however, was when the subject of earmarks came up.
Ms. Pelosi has been eager to make a show of raising ethical standards, but not at the expense of her colleagues' or her own ability to bring home the bacon. She tacked an earmark for $25 million for California strawberry farmers onto the emergency appropriations bill for US soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan. The bill, which the President just signed into law, ultimately was stripped of every significant Democrat initiative on Iraq but still became a wonderful Christmas tree decorated with provisions giving special favors - and $17 billion in extra spending - for the pet projects of dozens of Democrats. In addition to something for Ms. Pelosi, it has a $23 million earmark for Mr. Murtha's district. When criticized for that earmark, Mr. Murtha responded with a choice four-letter curse, and a threat to prevent his Republican critic from ever getting anything for his district. So much for civility and bipartisanship!
If the practice of earmarking hasn't ended, it has changed a bit - for the worse. House Appropriations Chair David Obey, Democrat of Wisconsin, says he has so many requests for earmarks to add to major legislation - over 30,000 in five months - that he has no choice but to tack them on after work on the bill is complete and won't reveal them until after both Houses vote. The other real change is that not all earmarks are put in writing - now Democrats who don't want anyone to know what they're doing can simply phone in the instructions on where to send the money (a practice Washington insiders now call "phone-marking"), as Harry Reid did in a call to the Energy Department.
Far from draining the swamp, Democrats have been wallowing in it.
All of this as the Democrats propose the largest tax increase in American history.
These people have no shame as they gut the democratic process and feed on a bloated government like so many leeches. If we as an electorate cannot remove some of these parasites from office - and soon - then I fear for our future as a sovereign state.