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Two Obama Cabinet Members Added Earmarks to Omnibus Spending Bill

Discussion in 'Political Zone' started by JBond, Feb 25, 2009.

  1. JBond

    JBond Well-Known Member

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    Another Obama promise down the drain.

    Two Obama Cabinet Members Added Earmarks to Omnibus Spending Bill


    Labor Sec. Hilda Solis and Transportation Sec. Ray LaHood are two of several ex-lawmakers whose districts will enjoy the fruits of their earmarks in the 2009 omnibus spending bill nearing passage in the House.

    Two of President Obama's Cabinet members authored a variety of earmarks in the $410 billion omnibus spending bill the House is poised to pass Wednesday to keep the government running through Oct. 1.

    Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood and Labor Secretary Hilda Solis were both House members when appropriators began to forge this legislation last year. However, a stalemate between President Bush and congressional Democrats forced the sides to punt the rest of the spending provisions until now.

    New transparency rules ordered up by Democrats two years ago require lawmakers requesting earmarks to write a letter expressly asking Congress to dedicate money for a given project. And as one scours the omnibus spending bill, it's easy to find specific appeals from people who are no longer in office, like LaHood and Solis.

    In LaHood's case, the former Republican Illinois congressman wrote a March 19, 2008, letter asking Congress set aside funding to move the "Jacksonville bandstand" from one of the House office buildings to the National Museum of American History in Washington. LaHood also earmarked funds for police radio upgrades, agriculture research and equipment at a planetarium in Peoria, Ill.

    As a Democratic congresswoman from suburban Los Angeles, Solis asked for the federal government to cover the cost of police equipment in Covina, Monterey Park and Baldwin Park, Calif.

    As Cabinet secretaries, LaHood and Solis will continue to have significant sway over Washington policy decisions. But because the omnibus bill is a holdover from last year, dozens of lawmakers who either retired or lost re-election are still legislating from the political grave.

    After surviving a tight race in 2006, Rep. Deborah Pryce, R-Ohio, decided not to seek re-election in 2008. But the House Wednesday will approve Pryce's request to fund after school programs at the YWCA. Former Rep. Nancy Boyda, D-Kan., was one of the most-vulnerable freshman Democrats to win a House seat in 2006. She didn't survive a 2008 challenge from Republican Rep. Lynn Jenkins. But Boyda's earmark to "identify and trace food-borne zoonotic diseases" lives on.

    Former Rep. Tom Allen failed to unseat Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine last fall. Still, Allen earmarked money for "Lowbush Wild Blueberry Research" and potato cloning programs at the University of Maine.

    Even former "non-members" penned pet projects into the bill.

    These days, Luis Fortuno is the governor of Puerto Rico. But on June 11, 2008, as the territory's resident commissioner to Congress, Fortuno requested funding for "Tropical Subtropical Agricultural Research" at the College of Agricultural Science in Mayaguez, Puerto Rico.

    Congressional Scholar Tom Mann of the Brookings Institution cautions that some of these earmarks are merely extensions of existing programs. Mann noted that earmarks authored by former members of Congress may have merit. But Mann concedes that doing last year's bill in February 2009 enables these former legislators to continue to wield power long after they've left office.

    "It sounds bizarre that there are earmarks by members who are no longer in Congress," Mann said. "There are historical legacies to actions taken by politicians."

    But Mann has questions for House appropriators who authored the bill and allowed the old spending requests to linger.

    "Did they feel they were bound by these earmarks? Were they scrubbed by the staff?" he asked.

    Jennifer Hing, a spokeswoman for Rep. Jerry Lewis, R-Calif., the ranking Republican on the Appropriations Committee, tried to lay the blame at the feet of House Democrats.

    "One of the many problems with not doing the annual budget work on time and within the regular process is that members of Congress are forced to vote on the priorities of their predecessors," said Hing.

    But congressional Democrats argue it was the intransigence of President George W. Bush that prevented them from completing the bill while the ex-lawmakers were still in office.

    A Democratic House aide defended the decision to maintain earmarks requested by former lawmakers in the bill.

    "We aren't going to punish local communities just because their member didn't return this year," said the aide.

    Still, others wonder if it's appropriate for the ghosts of former lawmakers to continue to have power.

    One congressional aide who requested anonymity asked whether the lawmakers who replaced the old members would advocate the same earmarks.

    "Their legislative priorities might be different. Those members were lobbied and decided to write that earmark. And now we're going to leave it in even though (the former member) isn't here any more?" the aide asked.

    Mann said that decision is ultimately up to the House Appropriations Committee, the panel that decides how the government spends its money.

    "The appropriations committee has authority over this bill. The appropriations committee decided to put (these earmarks) in," he said.

    Many regard earmarking as a way for lawmakers to ingratiate themselves with voters back home. But that didn't necessarily make a difference in the race of former Rep. Rep. Don Cazayoux, D-La.

    Cazayoux won his congressional seat in a special election in May 2008 but lost it in November. Still, the phantasms of Cazayoux's earmarks for flood control projects in Baton Rouge haunt this bill.

    Mann contends it's a fallacy that earmarks win political favor back home.

    "Tough luck for them," said Mann of lawmakers who earmarked and lost. "Delivering the bacon is overrated."
  2. MetalHead

    MetalHead Benched

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    But...but he promised no earmarks!....he lied!

    ABQCOWBOY Moderator Staff Member

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    You have no idea Artie.

    Here's what's coming.

    • Continuing Resolution" legislation to fund existing federal programs at $410 billion -- an 8.7% increase in spending over the last year which is the biggest increase on domestic spending since the Carter Administration. Currently being debated this week and next.
    • Obama/Pelosi Housing Bailout at $275 billion. Proposed now and will be debated within days.
    • Bank Bailout at estimated $1 trillion. Details of this new Bank Bailout are still fuzzy but the numbers are huge. Debate to begin within weeks.
    • Nationalized Health Care proposal is to be announced this Thursday. The President is saying his "health care reform…will not wait another year." We know what that means. Hundreds of billions more of your money and less individual health care choice for you.

    So far, the Obama/Pelosi agenda has been all spending while taking our nation to historic debt levels. Last night, we saw the first big Obama/Pelosi tax increase. And it is genuinely massive -- try $1.2 trillion over the next decade on ENERGY, the one sector of the economy where prices are lower at the moment.

    President Obama and Speaker Pelosi are now championing a "Cap and Trade" scheme that will ration energy while increasing taxes. A version of this proposal was introduced last year as the Warner/Lieberman Cap and Trade bill. Here are the key details from last year's legislation that are the basis for the Obama/Pelosi plan:

    $1.2 TRILLION Tax Increase over 7 years on gasoline, home energy and really all energy in next decade. Source: Congressional Budget Office, April 10, 2008 this tax would cost the economy 3 to 4 million jobs according to an analysis by the American Council on Capital Formation. The average family would lose over $4,000 per year in purchasing power (and remember the Pelosi/Obama tax cut was only $800 per couple) . Gasoline prices would increase anywhere from 77 to 145 percent--that means prices of about $2 a gallon now would go up to $3.50 or even $5 a gallon. In addition, the Washington Post has reported that President Obama's budget will also include income tax increases. Details are supposed to be reported later in the week.

    The numbers are staggering. But there is more. Under the Obama/Pelosi "Cap and Trade" scheme, for the first time the federal government will literally ration energy -- deciding how much energy should be available and at what cost to families and businesses. The impact on our families and economy will be disastrous.

    It's a bleak picture I see down the road Artie.
  4. MetalHead

    MetalHead Benched

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    Impeach Obama.
    The robots in this country are too busy slobbering at how this man speaks,but they aren't listening to what he really is saying.
    But it's been coming...the dumbing down of America caused this.
  5. trickblue

    trickblue Old Testament... Zone Supporter

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    I blame it on George Bush...

    ABQCOWBOY Moderator Staff Member

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    It's a pretty big club Trick.

  7. Beast_from_East

    Beast_from_East Well-Known Member

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    I just saw on CNN that the earmarks break down by the following:

    60% Democrats
    40% Republicans

    What is funny is that all the Republicans go on TV and scream "FISCAL RESPONSIBILITY" and "NO MORE SPENDING" at the top of their lungs and then load up a bill with earmarks after earmarks of their own.

    Kinda hard to claim to be the "Party of fiscal responsibility" when 40% of over 8500 earmarks (thats over 3400 earmarks) were placed into the bill by REPUBLICANS!!!

    Just saying.
  8. trickblue

    trickblue Old Testament... Zone Supporter

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    Be more specific... many of these earmarks are from those out of office as of the last elections...

    Think maybe they could be hung on them to make themselves look good?
  9. Beast_from_East

    Beast_from_East Well-Known Member

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    I am sure some of those are probably from the out of office Republicans, but I doubt they all are.

    The fact is that BOTH PARTIES load up bills with goodies for their home districts. They said even Lindsey Gram from South Carolina had an earmark in the bill for some convention center in Myrtle Beach and he was on Sean Hannity's show after the stimulus passed and was just railing against earmarks.

    My overall point is that it is hard to take Republicans seriously as "the party of fiscal responsibility" when they spent money like a druken saloir under Bush and load up bills with goodies after denouncing the evils of Government spending.
  10. trickblue

    trickblue Old Testament... Zone Supporter

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    The only ones I take seriously are those that voted against this...

    I can't blame any D's or R's that are getting their pork after not retaining their job... I just don't want to hear about it when they had no control...

    Any member that knowingly took pork on this bill should not be voted out of office, they should be THROWN out of office...
  11. Beast_from_East

    Beast_from_East Well-Known Member

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    :bow: :bow: :bow: :bow: :bow: :bow: :bow: :bow: :bow: :bow:
  12. hairic

    hairic Well-Known Member

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    When you only have (supposedly) two options, all you have to do is be positioned slightly more / less on a certain issue compared to the other choice. That opens up enough ambiguity for you to campaign on that issue as if you actually held that position. Republicans can claim fiscal responsibility (now, after Obama, not before Obama) because they will have spent a few billion less than Democrats. That's it.
  13. Beast_from_East

    Beast_from_East Well-Known Member

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  14. burmafrd

    burmafrd Well-Known Member

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    Love how the libs here still will not blame Obama for any of this.
  15. Jarv

    Jarv Loud pipes saves lives. Zone Supporter

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    I guess stuff like this can be pushed through when a 1,000 page document is voted on 18 hours after being officially published.
  16. JBond

    JBond Well-Known Member

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    That is why the Republican party lost the election.

    For me it's not republican vs democrat issue.

    I look at it as Conservative vs liberal.

    Fiscal responsibility vs tax and spend.

    The people voted for the change. They voted for the the government to take money from the responsible and give it to the irresponsible.
  17. Doomsday101

    Doomsday101 Well-Known Member

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    I agree. Anyone who wants to say Republican did it too makes it somehow alright is dead wrong. Pork is pork no matter if it is a republican doing it or a democrat and it comes at a cost to tax players. Many of these pork project should be paid for at the local level not at the expense of others. I don't care if Nevada builds a library but the people of Nevada need to pay for that library. The Fed Government is and has been out of control and they are not the answer to our problems. As far as I'm concerned the Fed Government should provide for the common defense of the nation and aid in interstate highway system beyond that States should govern themselves

    ABQCOWBOY Moderator Staff Member

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    I agree with this JB. Over the past 10 years, the Republican Party became so proliferated with RINO Republicans that it's very difficult to even say your Republican with any measure of conservatisam. I think it's a Conservative vs Liberal idioligy.
  19. JBond

    JBond Well-Known Member

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    Well said. I agree 100%. I think many Americans agree with your thoughts. Unfortunately we are the minority. We are the few that pay the taxes that keep our government afloat. We have passed the tipping point I'm afraid. There are too many people dependant on the government for their every need. There are too few of us paying in and too many taking out for it to be a workable system.

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