Friday, August 26, 2005

"Limited government" GOP?

Why am I a libertarian instead of a Republican? Well, for one, this:
Reagan made a show of his veto. It was a symbolic stroke against government waste, against the Democrats’ tradition of, for example, diverting every federal highway through West Virginia, then naming it after Sen. Robert Byrd.

Fast-forward to 2005. Republicans control the White House and both houses of Congress. Early on a Saturday morning in August — the day of the week, and the month of the year, least likely to attract media attention — President Bush signed into law a highway bill passed by his own party with more than 6,000 earmarked projects.

Bush signed the bill after sternly telling his party he'd veto any highway bill that spent more than $256 billion. He promptly "adjusted" that figure to $284 billion after complaints from party leaders. The bill Bush ultimately signed came at a price of $286 billion, $295 billion if you count a few provisions disguised to make the bill look cheaper than it actually is. Not exactly holding the line.
What happens when one of their own actually tries to enforce the party's purported limited government ideology? Not pretty:
Consider the case of Sen. Tom Coburn, another of the few in Congress willing to stand up to unrestrained spending. After a six-year career fighting waste in the House, Coburn won election to the Senate, and began putting administrative holds on his colleagues' wasteful projects. That didn't sit well with his fellow Republicans. Coburn's own party soon filed an ethics complaint against him.

His transgression? Coburn continues his medical practice in Oklahoma in addition to his duties as a U.S. senator. That apparently, is a violation of Senate ethics. Diverting millions of taxpayer dollars to pet projects that bear one's name and help one get reelected is not an ethical violation, but practicing medicine is.
How utterly shameless these Republican porkers can be!
But perhaps the single member of Congress most afflicted with arrogance-of-power syndrome is Virginia Rep. Tom Davis. Davis headed up the GOP's campaign to retain control of the House in 2004, and today chairs the House Government Reform Committee. Earlier this spring, it was Davis' committee that began investigating the use of steroids in Major League Baseball. Of course, Congress has no constitutional authority to tell a private organization what its rules ought to be. No matter. When MLB asked Davis what jurisdiction he had to hold hearings, Davis sent a letter in reply asserting that his committee has jurisdiction “at any time, over any matter.” Any time, any matter. So much for limited government. And this from the chair of the committee in charge of keeping government in check!
Other examples abound in the story.

Greed, arrogance, and power drunkenness have no party alliance.