House approves $410 spending bill
I must admit that, as liberal Democrats go, I like Congressman Joe Sestak. He served our country admirably. I’ve never seen or heard him be anywhere near disrespectful. And, whenever I get the chance to travel around his district, people from both sides of the political spectrum generally have good things to say about him.
At a friend’s house the other day, I had the chance to listen in as Congressman Sestak conducted a telephone town hall meeting, a conference call of sorts that he apparently does fairly often. Listen, I may not agree with the guy, but when I see an elected representative actually take interest in meeting with and talking with and gathering opinions from his constituents, that makes me happy.
Anyway, within only a few minutes of the telephone town hall meeting, it became apparent that Sestak wanted nothing to do with the characterization of any of the contents of the so-called “stimulus” bill as pork. Like Obama had said at his first press conference and again last night during his first address to a joint session of Congress, “there simply was no pork in that bill.”
I happen to disagree, as you know.
This evening, about a week after spending $787 billion on a so-called economic recovery package which will not work and only two days since having a summit on fiscal responsibility, the U.S. House of Representatives passed an additional $410 billion in spending. Some of the highlights include more than 8,000 earmarks:
- $59 million for Pacific salmon research
- $5.8 million earmark for the “Ted Kennedy Institute for the Senate . . . for the planning and design of a building & an endowment”
- $5.02 million for salaries at the Sugarbeet Disease and Oncology Labs (from Sen. Carl Levin)
- $2.19 million for the Center for Grape Genetics (from Sen. Chuck Schumer)
- $2 million for the promotion of astronomy in Hawaii
- $1.79 million for swine odor and manure management
- $1.76 million for a honeybee laboratory (from Texas Rep. Chet Edwards)
- $1.04 million for fighting troublesome crickets in Utah
- $819,000 for Catfish Genome Mapping (from Alabama Republican Richard Shelby), much of which could end up at my Alma Mater
- $500,000 for a Senate “pilot program” designed to better make use of mass-mailing postcards
- $500,000 for a fruit fly facility in Hawaii
- $473,000 for the National Council of La Raza (from Sens. Bingaman and Menendez)
- $400,000 for educator training designed to curb bullying at schools
- $331,000 for research in shellfish technologies (from Virginia Sen. Jim Webb)
- $254,000 for the Montana Sheep Institute
- $238,000 for education programs at the Polynesian Voyaging Society
- $209,000 for improvement of blueberry production and efficience (from Georgia Republican Saxby Chambliss)
- $200,000 for a “Tattoo Removal Violence Prevention Outreach Program”
- $190,000 for the Buffalo Bill Historical Center
- $162,000 for rodent control in Hawaii
- $143,000 for the expansion of natural history programs at a Las Vegas history museum (from Sen. Harry Reid)
According to various reports, earmarks such as these only make up 1.2 percent of the total bill, or $5 billion of the total $410 billion to be spent. Furthermore, if it weren’t for the down economy, some of the projects might be understandable. Still, that’s not the issue.
The issue here is the blatant fiscal irresponsibility — our House of Representatives, in just the past two weeks, has approved more than $1.5 trillion in spending if you count the “stimulus” bill, this spending bill, and the $275 billion housing rescue plan unveiled by the president last week. Worse yet, early estimates show that Obama’s healthcare plan will cost, at the very least, $630 billion over the next ten years. The issue here is honesty and accountability — the Democrats’ penchant for looking straight at the American people and lying to our faces must stop.
I’m afraid that the Democrats’ continued failure to confront reality will be akin to Han Solo trying in vain to use The Force. Eventually, the American people will realize that Barack Obama, as Han Solo, is not a Jedi Knight and is merely a man gracefully waving his hand in front of our faces and saying “these are the recovery measures you’re looking for.” Once Obama–Han Solo, remember–realizes that the Jedi Mind Trick has been rendered ineffective, the real question is whether he’ll resort to using his blaster and urging cooperation by force.