Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Earmark, Smearmark


During the last elections, the House Democrats’ campaign chief, Rep. Rahm Emanuel, was clear as a bell on earmarks. “For far too long,” he said, “business as usual has involved individual members doling out favors in appropriations and other bills through earmarks. The American people deserve to know more than who sponsored special interest legislation. They deserve earmark reform that puts an end to special interest earmarking and provides solutions to prevent the practice of earmark abuse.”

As a Republican, I was glad. It’s not that earmarks are inherently bad. Some serve important public purposes. But they need to be in the open, for all to see and evaluate, and their use needs to be significantly limited.

In January, the House and Senate both separately passed earmark reform but didn’t quite follow through, leaving the final wording to conference committee. As the last session ended, we finally saw the bill, worked out in secrecy by the current leadership. Republican Sen. Tom Coburn got it right when he said it “not only failed to drain the swamp, but gave the alligators new rights.”
So says !Fred!

I have only recently been learning just how egregious this process is. Not only is the money specified for a specific item/idea, it is directed to a specific company bypassing the usual bidding process. And then there is minimal follow up to make sure the money was spent the way it was allocated.

And what happens if the specified bridge can't be built for the earmarked $250 million? Well, there's really only two choices: 1. Quit and don't finish the bridge or 2. Get more money. Neither choice is a good one.

I was a department head of a medical department on a very large warship when I was in the Navy. I needed the oxygen delivery system on the ship rehabbed. I was told I was going to have to put it out for bid. We're only talking a few thousand dollars. There was only one company in southern California that could/would do the work. However, because of the fact that I couldn't be trusted to no-bid the work, it took 6 months to get one week of work done.

As a physician, I have to be very careful about accepting anything from a marketer, even a $20 book. Our representatives and senators, however, accept anything their hearts desire. Of course, I can't be trusted like they can.

More from !Fred!
What we need is a stake in the ground for basic reform of the budget and spending process in Washington, and then holding to that promise. Until that happens, and we get spending under control, we’ll have Congress continuing to stake bigger and bigger claims on everyone else’s hard-earned tax dollars. The President should hold the line and wield his veto as he has promised to do.
From the comments: G-Man said:
The issue that I keep raising with Fred, and no one will address for me, is the issue of him taking Spencer Abraham (a huge open borders advocate) on as his campaign manager. I've mentioned it several times on here and not a single time has anyone taken even a second to address the issue. I'm starting to think that ALa is trying to avoid the issue.
OK, G-Man, first of all, this ain't your blog and you don't get to decide what the bloggers write about. Basic blog courtesy. I'm sorry if you feel your comments haven't been addressed, but maybe someone's attention was elsewhere. Please come back and continue commenting.

That said, I agree with you about Spencer Abraham. It is concerning that he is an advocate for a position that we don't like. I also realize that a campaign manager doesn't set policy for an administration. Maybe !Fred! feels that Mr. Abraham has qualities as a campaign manager that outweigh his position on this issue. I certainly hope so.

And, hey, if you guys would send me the $1050 they want for me to go to a BBQ in Nashville with !Fred!, I promise I'll ask him. It would be cool if you folks sent me enough to take my loving wife as well. :-)

UPDATE

G-Man, it was pointed out that I shouldn't have ragged on you in the main topic, but, if at all, in the comments. So here's my mea culpa, right out in the open in the main topic. Sorry, dude.

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