Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Senate Corruption Continues

Citizens Against Government Waste (CAGW) named all 71 senators who voted against a one-year earmark moratorium March Porkers of the Month. The amendment to the fiscal year 2009 Budget Resolution was offered by Sen. Jim DeMint (R-S.C.) and had fourteen bipartisan co-sponsors including the support of all three presidential candidates.

“King of Pork” Sen. Robert Byrd (D-W. Va.) dismissed the earmark ban saying, “The idea that an all-knowing, all-powerful executive bureaucracy is more trustworthy than the elected representatives of the people when it comes to spending taxpayer dollars challenges the most basic tenet of our political system.”

In a similar vein, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) opposed the ban as “unrealistic” and even went so far as to erroneously claim that earmarking “has been going in this country for 230-some-odd years,” and that “The Founding Fathers would be cringing to hear people talking about eliminating earmarks.”
I guess "pork" is one word for this, but I think a better word for it is corruption.

It strikes me as pure nonsense to suggest the "Founding Fathers would be cringing" at talk of ending the practice of earmarks. Let's take a look at the list CITIZENS AGAINST GOVERNMENT WASTE provides with respect to 2006. Here are just a few of the earmarks:
  • $5.7 million for a Wildlife Management Institute
  • $1.3 million for curriculum development at Mississippi State
  • $500,000 for the Artic Winter Games
  • $1 million for the Griffth Observatory Planetarium
  • $1 million for a competency based distance education initiative in the state of the Senator making the earmark
  • $1 million for the closed Philadelphia Navy Yard for what appears to be local urban redevelopment
  • $350,000 for the Chicago Greenstreets Program which included the design, installation, and maintenance of over 950 hanging baskets
  • $400,000 for the Kam Wah Chung & Company Museum
  • $250,000 for the Stanley Theater in Utica, New York
  • $100 million to create a family literacy course
  • $41 million for the Byrd Honors Scholarships
  • $21.7 million for a project to improve the writing skills of grade school teachers
  • $5 million for the Industrial Outreach Service at Mississippi State
  • $1 million for academic programs at the University of Redlands
  • $1.2 million for compact laser sensors at Montana State University
  • $2 million for the Virginia Community College System web portal
Of course the list could go on and on. I think our Founders knew what was in the Constitution, and I think they knew our Congress was supposed to be a Congress of enumerated powers. I find it very difficult to place any of the earmarks in the above list within the list of enumerated powers written as Article I, Section 8 of the Constitution. At least while James Madison was a member of Congress, I'm pretty sure that there would have been one of our Founders who would have been arguing strongly against Congress having the power to tax and spend for programs such as these. I mean, really, does Congress have the constitutional power to spend tax dollars on hanging baskets in Chicago?

Of course it is not just that such expenditures should be considered unconstitutional, it is also that for most (maybe all) of these earmarks a member of Congress is specifically designating that tax dollars be spent in his or her district or state for purposes of their choosing. There have even been earmarked projects that cause tax dollars to be spent on projects that directly involve a member of the earmarker's family.

The corruption continues.

In Colorado it appears that Senator Allard voted to stop the corruption for a year, while Senator Salazar voted in favor of the continued corruption.

At least all 3 Senators still competing to be our next President voted to stop the corruption for a year.

No comments: