Saturday, January 19, 2013

Pork and Lipstick on the Republican and Democrat Pigs

Although both Republicans and Democrats are responsible for the fiscal carnage that is destroying America and the middle class, the Republicans are focused on blaming it all on Obama and the Democrats while very conveniently ignoring the fact that Bush and Gang added $5 trillion to the big pile of debt that will absolutely impoverish future generations of America.

Granted, everything that Obama has done has only made the situation a whole lot worse but the same could be said about the Republicans in control during the Bush-Cheney reign of fiscal and foreign policy terror.  The recently passed $50 billion plus Hurricane Sandy relief bill is just another classic pork laden congressional bill that is larded up with so much special interest pork that nobody in Congress evens questions the validity of the spending.

Hurricane Sandy Bill Creates Its Own Disaster
The trouble is that the House had an opportunity to pay for the core $17 billion for disaster assistance — but took a pass.

An amendment offered by Rep. Mick Mulvaney (R-SC) would have paid for these core provisions with offsetting spending cuts to 1.6 percent of the discretionary budget. But 71 Republicans voted with Democrats to defeat that measure.

“This is truly a shame,” Americans for Limited Government President Bill Wilson responded. “After all the wrangling on sequestration about reducing the deficit, the moment Congress has a pork-laden bill they refuse to pay for it.”

He said those who refused to pay for the disaster assistance were “hiding behind those most hurt by Hurricane Sandy to facilitate a special interest agenda.”

A claim that is hard to contend with.

Heritage Action noted some of the more egregious pork in the bill: “repairs to the Smithsonian Institution to upgrades to National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration airplanes to more funding for the federal government’s epic educational failure known as Head Start, among myriad other extraneous items. The inclusion of $16 billion in wasteful community development funds is also concerning, especially because the Department of Housing and Urban Development estimated it would need a comparatively much smaller $5.2 billion for its ‘unmet needs.’”

Even worse is that more than 94 amendments that might have addressed all this waste were killed by the House Rules Committee, which is run by Republicans.
Why does Congress keep spending money it does't have while running  trillion dollar a year plus deficits that require massive debt?  The short answer is that congress critters are indeed wholly owned subsidiaries of the special interests that fill their campaign coffers.  America is no long a nation "of the people,  by the people and for the people".  America has morphed into hideously fascist statism that exclusively serves special interests and at the top of the pyramid sits defense contractors and banksters.  Unfortunately, America has a long history of doling out special interest pork as eloquently disclosed by Wendy McElroy.

The history of the American pork barrel

The phrase “pork-barrel spending” is said to derive from a practice of antebellum slaveholders; they would give a barrel of salt pork to their slaves, who scrambled and fought with each other for a share. According to the Oxford English Dictionary, the term acquired its political meaning in the early 1870s. Webster’s traces the American usage back to the turn of the 20th century.

Advocates draw upon two clauses from article 1, section 8 of the United States Constitution for legitimacy.

The first is called the general-welfare clause. It states, “The Congress shall have power to lay and collect taxes, duties, imposts and excises, to pay the debts and provide for the common defence and general welfare of the United States.” Pork is said to provide for general welfare, and thus to be permitted by this clause.

The second is the so-called postal clause. It authorizes Congress “to establish post offices and post roads” as a way to expedite interstate communication. This is now construed to give the federal government the power to appropriate money for public works. (The expenses not covered by section 8 were left to the states. The Tenth Amendment later clarified, “The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution … are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.”)

Senator Reid is correct in that pork has been around since the first Congress. Up until the 1980s, however, it was not widespread, and it was often discouraged. Some Founding Fathers were uncomfortable even with the funding of postal roads. In a 1796 letter to James Madison, who is often called the father of the Constitution, Thomas Jefferson argued against the postal clause.

Have you considered all the consequences of your proposition respecting post roads? I view it as a source of boundless patronage to the executive, jobbing to members of Congress & their friends, and a bottomless abyss of public money. You will begin by only appropriating the surplus of the post office revenues; but the other revenues will soon be called into their aid, and it will be a source of eternal scramble among the members, who can get the most money wasted in their State; and they will always get most who are meanest.

The first Congress (1790) authorized pork in the form of $1,500 to complete a lighthouse in Maine, which was then part of Massachusetts. The expenditure had the active support of President George Washington and of Rep. George Thatcher of Massachusetts. On constitutional grounds, however, the same Congress rejected a bill to aid a glass manufacturer. Perhaps the second bill lacked presidential support.

Contrary to Reid’s suggestion, however, pork-barrel spending did not become common practice. The second Congress solidly rejected a cod fishery bill intended to assist New Englanders. The South Carolina representative Hugh Williamson argued that the Constitution had anticipated “the time might come, when, by greater cohesion, by more unanimity, by more address, the representatives of one part of the Union might attempt to impose unequal taxes, or to relieve their constituents at the expense of the people.”

He pointed to constitutional provisions that clearly indicated “Congress might not have the power … to gratify one part of the Union by oppressing another.
The practice of doling out pork, while clearly out of control, was once questioned and debated on constitutional and moral grounds.  These days, there are no such restraints because the Constitution is no longer even relevant and the morality of elected officials is merely a relic of the past.

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