Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Money talks in D.C.

Democrats said last year that if they were elected, they'd clean up the financial mess that Republicans had left them. They started off by eliminating a lot of earmarks, and for that, I commended them. However, how long did you think it would really take before they started tacking on some of their own pork (you know, the stuff they vowed to eliminate once in power)? From Bloomberg:
President George W. Bush's first spending fight with the Democratic-controlled Congress may come over the Iraq war -- and avocados and cattle and flood protection.

Lawmakers are pushing to add billions of dollars to the administration's war-funding request to meet a host of unrelated demands, including those from California fruit farmers hit by freezing temperatures, ranchers whose livestock were killed in Colorado blizzards and children poised to lose their health insurance.

The potential add-ons threaten a battle in the coming weeks with the White House. Bush has never vetoed a spending measure, and Democrats, betting he won't veto one paying for the war, see a way to aid a number of constituencies seeking federal aid.

"There are urgent, emergency situations that have to be addressed," said Senator Kent Conrad, a North Dakota Democrat.

Of course it's an emergency! Just how in the hell is this country supposed to operate without adequate supplies of guacamole? It only makes sense to attach such a nationally pressing matter like that witha supplemental defense spending bill, right? Continuing:
Senator Judd Gregg, a New Hampshire Republican, said the extra spending is "fiscally irresponsible and it's blatantly unseemly." (As opposed to when YOU GUYS ran the show, Senator? - Ed.)

"We're supposed to be fighting this war and paying for the troops -- making sure they have what they need," he said. "We're not supposed to be paying for avocado growers."

Democrats voted last month to drop thousands of pet projects, called "earmarks" or "pork," from a $463 billion annual spending measure. Gregg said the calls for adding to the Iraq measure, which have come from Republicans and Democrats alike, looked like pork to him.

Just to show I'm not partial to one party of porkers over another, here's a link to a column by Bob Novak showing how Sen. John Thune (R-SD) has lost his "fiscal conservative" way. Excerpt:
THE FEDERAL Railroad Administration handed a rare victory to the American taxpayer last week by denying a questionable $2.33 billion loan application by the Dakota, Minnesota and Eastern (DM&E) Railroad. What makes this news of special interest is the paramount role Republican Sen. John Thune of South Dakota played in boosting the loan. Here is a cautionary tale of political life in Washington and how it corrupts.

Legislative changes that made the loan possible were guided through Congress behind closed doors by Thune. But the assessment that DM&E is a poor credit risk was shared by Thune's fellow conservative senators -- Tom Coburn of Oklahoma and Jim DeMint of South Carolina -- who took the extraordinary step of advocating rejection of a colleague's pet project. Making matters worse, Thune is a former paid lobbyist for the South Dakota-based railroad and has received political contributions from the company's executives.

Thune entered the Senate in 2005 as one of the GOP's rising stars with a limitless future after defeating Senate Democratic Leader Tom Daschle for re-election. He declared himself eager to fight against spending under a Republican-controlled government. But instead of aligning himself with his party's reformers, Thune has been energized in promoting pork for South Dakota. After the embarrassment of the DM&E loan rejection, a Senate Republican source (who declined to be identified) said: "One can hope this episode helps Thune recover his revolutionary zeal.