Wednesday, August 10, 2005

Dude, Where's My Paycheck?

You can also title this "My wallet is squealing like a pig over this new transportation bill."

As many readers know I often disagree with NewsWEAK. Well, get your calendars out and mark today on the calendar because there's common ground.

Fiscal Indiscipline

Whatever happened to the presidential promise to impose stricter spending limits?

I agree. Where is a veto? Where is the Executive office using it's Constitutional power to pull the Legislative branch in check in the way they spend MY money?

When George W. Bush was running for president in 2000, he promised to usher in what he called The Responsibility Era. That was in contrast, of course, to the Clinton-era of irresponsible behavior, a culture that Bush described as “If it feels good do it, and if you’ve got a problem, blame somebody else.” But when it comes to being responsible with the nation’s finances, it’s clear that President Bush remains far behind his predecessor and all too ready to blame somebody else for his problems.

I wouldn't go that far, but I would like to see him call the Congress out on their PORK!

On Tuesday, Bush met with his economic advisers at his ranch in Crawford, Texas, in a session described by a White House official as an “annual retreat.” In remarks to reporters afterward, Bush said one way to encourage economic growth was to make sure Congress followed stricter spending limits, something the president has repeatedly mentioned as a major goal of his second term. “It’s very important to Congress, as they work on appropriations bills, to adhere to the budgets they’ve passed so that we can continue to send the signals to people around the country that we’re serious about being fiscally responsible with people’s money,” Bush said. Yet even Bush’s staunchest conservative supporters are questioning the White House’s commitment to fiscal discipline.

G.W. is on the mark here. The only power the President has over this budget is the veto, and/or threat of veto. Congress budgets, then aportions the bills. The problem isn't even the budget itself. The problem is that the bill is inevitably overloaded with pork and pet projects ... many completely unrelated to the issue the bill covers that predictably drive up the amount of OUR money thats being spent.

The following day Bush traveled to Illinois to sign into law a $286 billion highway bill—the most expensive public works bill in U.S. history, according to congressional legislators. The White House and Congress had battled over the scope of the bill for more than two years. Earlier this year, Bush threatened to veto any bill that exceeded $250 billion. That was later upped to $270 billion, but in a bid to show progress on domestic priorities, the White House last month signaled that it would support a $284 billion bill. Yet Congress didn’t even adhere to that price tag, approving a bill in the final days before the August recess that surpassed Bush’s goal by another $2 billion.

Without bias let's assume that adjusted for inflation this may NOT actually be the most expensive ever. Here's where NewsWEAK actually starts to contradict themselves. They say in the opening that Bush has done nothing and looks to blame someone else. Here they show where Bush DID threaten to veto based on the bills dollar amount, worked with congress and gave a little. NewsWEAK states that it was congress that didn't adhere.

Why so expensive? At the last minute, Congress added nearly $25 billion in so-called pork-barrel projects—the priciest round ever, according to the conservative group Taxpayers for Common Sense. One project funded by the bill: a $300 million bridge in Alaska named after Rep. Don Young, chairman of the House Transportation Committee. Designed to be one of the largest bridges in North America, the project has been described by critics as “the road to nowhere” since it will link a tiny Alaskan fishing town along the state’s southern tip to an even tinier island, which boasts less than 50 inhabitants.

Like I said ... PORK and bleeping pet projects!

In addition, lawmakers last week admitted that the bill’s cost will actually near $295 billion, thanks to a last-minute number fudging. To keep the price tag at $286 billion, Congress has pledged to repay an extra $8.5 billion included in the bill before the legislation expires in 2009. Arizona Rep. Jeff Flake, one of the House’s most passionate fiscal conservatives, had urged Bush to veto the bill. “The transportation bill ought to carry the same warning that drivers see on their rearview mirror,” Flake says. “Items are larger than they appear.”

White House officials have been noticeably defensive about the legislation, as well as questions about Bush’s own commitment to curb federal spending. “Listen, this president is the one that’s keeping spending under control,” Allan Hubbard, a top Bush economic adviser, told reporters Tuesday. “There were a number of members of Congress who wanted a $400 billion highway bill. Because of this president, it is a $286 billion highway bill.” When asked if Bush thinks the bill is too expensive, Hubbard looked irritated. “The president is very happy with this bill,” he said. “Next question.”

And I'm sure that the extra $105 billion would have been more PORK and pet projects.

With as much PORK as gets put into legislation, how could their possibly be any hunger in America?

OK, so maybe NewsWEAK and I don't really agree ... completely.

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