Economy & Budget

Another Half-Trillion, Another Payoff

House Republican leaders on Monday called on Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) to abandon their latest plans for another spending binge this week and enact a freeze which would hold federal spending to 2008 levels.  The half-trillion dollar “omnibus appropriations bill,” — like the trillion-dollar spendulus bill last week — was authored by Democrats behind closed doors. It contains over 9,000 earmarks and would increase spending by over $21 billion.  After weeks of Republicans asking for the bill’s release (which would have allowed Republican members and the public time to actually read it), Democrats finally made public the monster bill on Monday afternoon, scheduling the usual charade hearing on it for Wednesday.

Congressional staff sources told me last night that many of these earmarks were likely in the bills when they came through committee in the House individually in the last Congress without being scheduled for a floor vote by Democrat leadership.   Republican leaders were not consulted on how this current bill was constructed nor had they seen it until yesterday afternoon.  At a time when the Democrat majority is borrowing money against our grandchildren’s future earnings, Republican leadership is asking for a clean bill — stripping all earmarks — and a freeze on spending.  

Minority leader John Boehner (R-Ohio) said, “President Obama has called for both parties to get serious about fiscal responsibility.  With our budget deficit potentially reaching $3 trillion this year, Republicans stand ready to work with him, and we believe we should start right now.  Weeks ago House Republicans asked Speaker Pelosi and Majority Leader Hoyer to put this giant spending bill online so the American people would have adequate time to review it.  Unfortunately, they declined.  And on Friday, it was revealed that the bill congressional Democrats have been withholding from public view contains the largest discretionary spending increase since the Carter Administration, at a time when the federal budget deficit is already ballooning to dangerous levels. … This is not fiscal responsibility; it is fiscal negligence, paid for by our children and grandchildren.”

Republican Hill staffers again burned the midnight oil last night on this document dump, combing through the bills to find what Democrats are desperate to hide before any votes.  One of the things found late yesterday was language hidden in the bill that would phase out the District of Columbia’s groundbreaking school choice program, which has provided much improved educational opportunities for thousands of inner-city children since it was established with bipartisan support in 2004.  This is another blatant political payoff by Democrats to their constituent teachers unions at the expense of quality education for minority, inner-city children.  Where is Al Sharpton on this outrage?

Senate Republican staffers did some heavy lifting last night, pulling rotting bovine out into the light, including 114 pages of transportation earmarks at 20 per page.  Other seemingly unending pork included things like $2 million for the promotion of astronomy in Hawaii, $200,000 for gang tattoo removal, $250,000 for security cameras in business districts in Pittsburg, $215,000 for Stony Brook University to teach scientists how to talk to the media, a $473,000 earmark for the racist group “La Raza” from Sens. Bingaman and Menendez, $400,000 to combat bullying and $75,000 for Totally Teen Zone to tell kids it’s okay to totally zone out with Wii and X Box. Is this really necessary?

President Obama on Monday held a “fiscal responsibility” summit at the White House while his Congressional myrmidons were teeing up another half-trillion in pork-barrel spending.  Barely a week after his public appearance blitz designed to help ram through the trillion-dollar “stimulus” spending bill — that passed with support from only three Congressional RINOs — Obama paid lip service to the assembled legislators Monday with his call to stop piling up debt on future generations.  Don’t look behind the curtain at the real Wizard of O.  This reach across the aisle was nothing but another attempt to find ways to pin responsibility for Democrat socialist policies on Republicans as Democrats blow through another half-trillion this week.  

By stamping his imprimatur on this out-of-control spending this week and combined with the over one-trillion dollars in wasteful spending his administration approved during his first three weeks in office, Obama’s first month in office is the most costly to taxpayers in American history.

This massive spending to date does not include the growing list of spending to come:  supplemental funding for Obama’s troop surge in Afghanistan, the United Auto Workers’ bailout disguised as the big three automakers bailout, the upcoming additional TARP funding for even more bank bailouts, and Obama’s great housing giveaway to Democrat constituencies who can’t afford them.  Not to mention the talk from Democrats of plans this year to complete what they started in the “stimulus” bill:  the attempt to socialize medicine.

Sen. Charles Grassley (R-Iowa), the ranking Republican member on the Senate Finance Committee, said of these entitlement programs and the White House summit, “The current administration inherited a $1 trillion deficit, and in just the first few weeks it added another $1 trillion to the debt with its economic stimulus bill.  The bill included new and expanded entitlement programs, and if they’re made permanent, they’ll add at least another $2 trillion to the deficit.  Looking ahead, we’re hearing from some people that we can’t reform government entitlement programs until we reform the entire health care system.  The problems with our health care system need fixing, but for a lot of people, health care reform is code for spending more, not less.”

Grassley added, “American taxpayers are being asked to swallow a lot right now, and it brings to mind the old joke about Wimpy’s hamburgers.  Wimpy said, ‘I’ll gladly pay you Tuesday for a hamburger today.’  There’s too much of that kind of attitude in Congress and the White House today.”

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