Lame Duck Congress Gives America a $1.1T Christmas Goose

At school districts all around me here in South Carolina, teachers are being forced to take furlough days, parents are being asked to stock supply closets, and voters in Charleston County were forced to choose between a sales tax increase or a property tax increase to fund seismic repairs to area schools.  In other words, school districts here in the Lowcountry are strapped for cash.

Considering that, imagine the surprise when the Charleston County School Board met on Monday night and voted down a request by district officials for an additional $135,000 for new carpet installation and other renovations to the human resources department at the district’s main office on the peninsula — on top of the $140,000 already spent renovating those same offices.

“When is somebody going to stand up and explain that we simply do not have the money?” asked WTMA-AM radio host Richard Todd yesterday morning. “I would love new cabinets in my kitchen and new flooring throughout my house, but I know and my wife knows that we simply do not have the money.”

I could not agree more.  Especially at this time of year, it is so tempting to spend beyond your means, but at some point fiscal responsibility needs to rule the day.  Unfortunately, that the request for the additional $135,000 was even made by district officials in the first place while students and parents and teachers are forced to do more with less shows that bureaucracy crosses the lines of ideology, that our public officials’ priorities are all out of whack, and that there is a fundamental inability for those same officials to run a school district, town or nation in the same manner as everyday Americans manage their households.

And, indeed, those tendencies and failings are consistent and prevalent throughout every level of government, from school boards to municipalities on up to the federal government.

For a prime example of the disconnect between public officials at the highest level and those families who come together to assess fiscal priorities at the kitchen table, look no further than the 1924-page, $1.1 trillion omnibus spending bill unveiled by Senate Democrats just yesterday.   Rather than simply adopting a continuing resolution (a measure designed to provide for the funding of the federal government in the absence of a budget (which, of course, the Democratic Party leadership failed to pass this year, considering the inevitable debate too politically problematic in an election year), Democrats spun together a smorgasbord of irresponsible spending.

Included in the omnibus spending bill is funding necessary to implement portions of ObamaCare, appropriations required to keep Cabinet agencies afloat, and spending on the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Also included in the bill are more than 6,000 earmarks, totaling more than $8 billion.  South Dakota Sen. John Thune called on Democrats to “stop this reckless spending,” stating that “the attempt by Democrat leadership to rush through a nearly 2,000-page spending bill in the final days of the lame-duck session ignores the clear will expressed by the voters this past election.”  Similarly, Arizona Sen. John McCain called it “a direct betrayal of the majority of voters on November 2 who said ‘stop the earmarking, stop the spending, stop the pork-barrel projects.”  Another McCain quote from RedState:

In a speech from the floor of the Senate, McCain blasted the bill, asking is his colleagues if they had been “stricken with amnesia” for appropriating such wild earmarks only weeks after a swift electoral rebuke for Democrats.

“Enough with the spending, enough of mortgaging our children and our grandchildren’s futures. The phenomenon of the Tea Party — taxed enough already — they were against the spending, the earmarking,” McCain, who is looking to force the bill be read in its entirety from the floor of the Senate, said. “What is going on here? Are we tone deaf? Are we stricken with amnesia?”

And, here’s video of McCain’s floor speech. Keep in mind that, fresh off a victory at the polls, this is the time that John McCain usually shows his “maverick” side and starts gallivanting across the aisle. Here, as you’ll see, we see quite the opposite:

McCain’s office counted 6,488 earmarks.  Across the Internet, from large sites like Politico to individual Twitter feeds of folks like you and like me who happened to get their hands on a copy of the bill, the most amazingly egregious examples of reckless spending were pointed out for all to see.  Some of the examples:

While the $8.3 billion in earmarks is certainly a drop in the ocean when the total amount of appropriations is considered, as mentioned before on this Web site, earmarks are symbolic of much that has gone wrong on Capitol Hill — the self-dealing, the vote-buying, the backroom deals, the refusal to listen to constituents.  It is important to remember that any pet project included as an earmark could technically and procedurally receive its own up-or-down vote, specific to the task at hand.  Here in South Carolina, for example, plans to dredge Charleston Harbor to a depth of 50+ feet–thus allowing for passage of larger boats and more commerce–are in the works, and while Sen. Lindsey Graham would like to procure funding for such a project through the earmarking process, Sen. Jim DeMint has already voiced his opposition.  It’s not that DeMint is against the dredging of the harbor; he’s not.  DeMint has instead stated that he feels the project is important enough to receive an up-or-down vote in Washington, standing on its own merits.

It is also important to point out that, while the $8.3 billion in earmarks is certainly less than in previous years, the decrease has nothing to do with Democrats putting a stop to their spendthrift ways.  Actually, as the Associated Press points out, the total amount of earmarks included is less only because House Republicans stood fast this time around and did not ask for a single earmark.  Even on the Senate side, where Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell has just recently begrudgingly agreed with Sen. DeMint’s proposal to ban earmarks, many of the earmarks attributed to Senate Republicans were originally intended to be taken up earlier in the year as individual appropriations; McConnell and others have said that they intend to hold to the earmark ban starting next year.

I think it was this past spring that I began to worry about the prospect of a lame duck session for this Democratic Party leadership.  I saw it as a legislative free-for-all, a shopping and spending and amnesty spree for an embattled and embittered group of failures who no longer had anything to lose.  Now, those worries have manifested themselves, and it is time to shut down this Parade of Horribles.

At some point, congressional Republicans have to say that enough is enough when it comes to this current Congress, and take any procedural and substantive steps necessary to ensure that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid can do no more damage to the fabric of our nation. Their intent is to countermand the will of the American people, and that intent is perfectly clear in the threats made by Reid to extend the current congressional session into the new year:

Mr. Reid, though, said Congress will stay until he tries to tackle issues he says have been unfairly stalled by the GOP.

“I hate to report all this to you — but you know, there’s still Congress after Christmas,” he told reporters. “So if the Republicans think that because they can stall and stall and stall that we take a break, we’re through, we’re not through.”

Translation: “On November 2, America rejected the agenda put forth by this Congress.  However, we care so little about the will of the people we are supposed to represent that we will continue to advance that agenda, in the face of popular opposition and in the face of any and all effort from congressional Republicans on their behalf, for as long as we possibly can.”

Enough is enough.  I implore congressional Republicans to do whatever it takes to shut Congress down, and let’s start anew in January.  The American people are depending upon those sent to Capitol Hill by this resurgent right to do the right thing and begin governing in the same fashion that everyday folks from coast to coast manage their households and daily lives.  Just as I cannot afford that fancy new carry pistol I’ve had my eyes on, just as the Charleston County School District cannot afford $135,000 for new carpeting, the federal government cannot afford to implement ObamaCare, fund two wars, and spend $8 billion on earmarks.

Pass a continuing resolution, shut down Congress, eat some Christmas goose, and start fresh in January.   I’ve had enough of this Congress.  Send them home already.

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Comments

  1. Amonymous says:

    Gentlemen, to arms.

  2. Amonymous says:

    Tjey couldn’t be happy, just sitting around this last month, and playing Angry Birds, and leaving America the hell alone? Bassturds.

  3. Daffy says:

    I’ve seen lame ducks at the park. They stick around in one spot, and constantly defile their little piece of turf.

  4. Boston Blackie says:

    Congress, the only job where when you are fired due to illness(the voters got sick of you) you are not immediately shown the door. We knew back last spring that this lame duck Congress would be like drunken Marines on shore leave.
    Stop the insanity at any cost!!!!

  5. Anonymous says:

    Boston Blackie is right. After the election, the losers should be escorted out the door by security, like any other employer would do.

  6. L. Banks says:

    You said it correctly, Jeff. This is insanity! We knew Congress was out of control and lined each others pockets, but this is beyond reason. Given the mandate handed to Congress this last election, this $1.1 billion spending bill might be considered treason.

    It really seems to me tthere are just too many Progressives, Communists and Socialists in our government today whose agenda is the destruction of the United States. I think we are on the brink of a financial Armageddon similar to Europe and the Congress continues to ignore the facts and fuel the fire.

  7. Boston Blackie says:

    I am waiting for my Christmas card from Ed Markey, my congressman.
    I am sure it will say
    “Merry Cristmas to all and to all some more debt”

  8. Boston Blackie says:

    oh cripes, I can’t even spell Christmas!!

  9. Anonymous says:

    NO BUDGET….. SHUT THIS GOVERNMENT DOWN.

  10. Anonymous says:

    In our field, I.T., when an employee is terminated, they are immediately escorted out, due to the immense possible harm they can cause to the computer systems. In this scenario, politics and governance, there is opportunity for much greater harm.

  11. Jeff Schreiber says:

    In our field, I.T., when an employee is terminated, they are immediately escorted out, due to the immense possible harm they can cause to the computer systems. In this scenario, politics and governance, there is opportunity for much greater harm.

    Absolutely fantastic comparison.

  12. Anonymous says:

    We need to go all Angry Birds onto Capitol Hill.

  13. Anonymous says:

    Boston Blackie, you had it right…. you were quoting Markey, who probably can’t spell Christmas.

  14. Anonymous says:

    2012 is going to be so interesting.

  15. Dee says:

    Anonymous @ 3:29pm: the same thing happens where I work. They even had security “escort” a nun out of the building after her position was eliminated. I hope the GOP stands up to this one. Is anyone going to “read” the bill before voting on it. I understand there is a $48 billion piece of pork in it that basically “redistributes” the money(or the wealth) by giving the lower income folks of the area money that they will supposedly spend and therefore, improve the economy.
    About a week ago, I read that Congress wanted to extend the unemployment benefits because it would “create” 600,000 jobs. If someone could explain how that could be to me, I would greatly appreciate it.

  16. Gail B. says:

    Swine waste management in North Carolina is certainly needed! I just came from up there, and Rose Hill, NC, smells lke ANYTHING BUT a rose hill! Honestly, I don’t know how they stand it. They are subject to flooding, too; and you can guess what is carried with the flood waters. It’s not just at Rose Hill, either.

    I’ve been watching the House and Senate today. The House seems to have put off the Bush tax cut bill because Pelosi doesn’t have the votes for it.

    The Senate is wringing its hands over the START Treaty. I developed a knot in my stomach listening to the irresponsibility of the Obama administration regarding what it could have done and should have done when START 1 expired.

    Is it just me, or does anyone else wish that we had some people leading this country who have our BEST interests at heart?

    Thanks for listening, and everyone please have a Merry Christmas! (BTW, I’ve heard more such greetings in stores this year than last year. As one friend of mine put it in an email, “We’re not celebrating the birth of a holiday; we’re celebrating the birth of Christ.”)

  17. Gail B. says:

    OH! The Swine waste management is North Carolina’s problem, not that of the taxpayers from across the country!

  18. Anonymous says:

    In a nutshell; if you are an incumbent, and you are voted out, at that point you have been found to be defective, working against the will of the people of that district. You should no longer be allowed to vote. PERIOD. Any thoughts Jeff? Constitutional amendment, or law? Straight out resignations and normal retirees would be allowed to vote, I guess.

  19. Gail B. says:

    The $1.1T Omnibus Spending bill is dead. Reid did not have enough votes to pass it. Nine people backed away from it.

    Those phone lines must be smoking!!! Reid is! What was it he said? Something like, “Nine people turned down….uh…uh….uh, the opportunity to pass this.” Wish I knew who they were!

  20. Anonymous says:

    KUDOS to John McCain…. “ENOUGH IS ENOUGH”.

  21. Ooops says:

    All bills for raising Revenue shall originate in the House of Representatives;

    Article 1 Section 7

  22. Anonymous says:

    Hey where’s my 238,000 for research on the stresses incurred while playing Angry Birds?

  23. Baaaastuds says:

    They want to lead us like sheep, dangling grants in front of us.
    And nudging us along. Cute in the animal world. Pathetic in ours.

    http://www.wimp.com/sheeplight/

  24. Gail B. says:

    Looks like somebody performed CPR on it and brought it back to life.

  25. Sam says:

    Jeff, I have run out of money, can you spot me a few months till my wife and I find time to make a new budget? I think we might be running out of money again after that tho in a few more months.

  26. Anonymous says:

    Let’s hurry and pass the START treaty too, so we can see what’s in it.

    -Nancy

  27. Dumb hick here says:

    Should not treaties be put in laymans terms and provided to us, the lowly public, so that we may be ‘informed’ as to how to ‘encourage’ our senators to vote? Our reps don’t just blindly vote for us no questions asked, do they? What makes them inherently smarter than us?

  28. L. Banks says:

    No one wants to stop the game playing in Congress and tackle the real problems in our budget since then they will not get re-elected. If you spend more than you make, you eventually pay the price. Unfortunately, this administration wants to continue to spend so their party, their backers, their favorites and their agenda is continually financed. I think this is also true of the Republicans as the system has a way of making you operate within its boundaries and rules. I really hope Americans are prepared for what may happen in this next year and are willing to do what it takes to reverse this present course.

    I want to wish Jeff and all of you who comment on his website a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. I wish you all peace in this coming year.

  29. Pardon me says:

    Either NM has nothing better to do, or this is a long term ploy setting the stage for a future pardon of Obama.

    ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. – Descendants of Old West lawman Pat Garrett and New Mexico Territorial Gov. Lew Wallace are outraged that Gov. Bill Richardson is considering a pardon for Billy the Kid, saying Wallace never offered a pardon, and a petition seeking one is tainted because it comes from a lawyer with ties to Richardson.

  30. No longer can you LOL to your BFF says:

    Lame duck Congress,…. now a lame set of 3 FCC commissioners have set about to destroy the internet as we have come to love it. Government can’t leave anything that is good, alone.

  31. Gail B. says:

    The State of Georgia is boiling mad at Senator Johnny Isakson! This is a Republican state; Johnny is supposed to be a Republican.

    Senator Saxby Chambliss’ office said that the votes for and against the START Treaty were leaning towards “Against.” I wrote to Johnny and told him so and asked wouldn’t it stand to reason that the same would be true for his office.

    This was not something for a fired bunch of senators to decide; there was no urgency about it. I remnember reading (or being told) that it would be either the DREAM Act or the START Treaty, but not both, that would pass or fail. Well, we saw how the cookie crumbled.

    There’s talk down in this area that Isakson might not run again in six years, and we are looking for a viable candidate for his seat.

  32. Gail B. says:

    Rep. Tom Price has been mentioned for that seat. You remember him, don’t you, Jeff?

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