We Need Some Cajones
Unlike a lot of editorial boards, I like the way we are handling the funding for Iraq and Afghanistan, it makes it easier for the folks who want to track the cost to do so. Though most of them do so dishonestly, by including the non-related earmarks into the cost of war. It's easier than figuring out what congress buried in those bills.
If you remember, during his State of the Union address, the President asked congress to pass earmark legislation reform. They laughed heartily as they ignored him; if they actually did that they'd need to pass a bill to spend $50 million on a bridge for 8 people, or $700 million to relocate a rail line that local governments and railroads have refused to move out of a hurricane prone area.
This isn't a new thing, back in the 1980's the cynical Democratic congress used to do the same thing, only in reverse. They'd pass a bill that was nothing but pork, and amend it to fund a few million of Social Security, then go on TV when Reagan threatened a veto to tell the old folks he was going to kill their Social Security checks.
Very soon we will need a president with the cajones to out PR congress on the issue of pork barrel spending. The way to do it is pretty simple, during the State of the Union promise to veto any bill with nonrelated spending attached to it, regardless of what it is.
This would require, every time it happened, an Oval Office PR blitz, explaining why the bill was being vetoed, what pork was in it, and who was responsible for it. It might even include the drastic measure of shutting down certain government functions, and being clear why.
Bush had he opportunity to do this last year with the highway bill that showed up 15% larger than what he requested, and he caved on his promise to veto it. While there was a lot of pork, Congress (both parties) was sure to add enough junk to it that would look bad if vetoed to kill the threat.
Because he caved on that, Congress is now adding earmarks more often than Charlie Sheen buys hookers, and we get to pay for it.
Congress isn't honest about this either, they always sell these projects as important stuff, that is necessary for their district. The truth is, if it's that important, and necessary, then it should be able to stand on it's own as bill before congress for funding. Precisely because they aren't either important or necessary is why they are buried as riders on legislation that is needed.
In the 1990's Congress passed a half hearted line item veto, that I'm pretty sure they knew wouldn't pass muster with the Supreme Court. They could say they were doing something, and lay the blame on the court when it died.
Congress doesn't want a true line item veto, because it would make it easy to kill their pork, so hoping for reform on that front is probably dead in the water. That leaves a President with cajones as the solution; to step up and stomp on Congress a little bit to get their attention, and get them to be better stewards of our tax money.
Technorati Tags: Pork Barrell Spending, politics, Earmark Reform, taxes, George Bush, Congress, Line Item Veto