Saturday, December 26, 2009
Memo to Congress: No More Pork!
By Alan Caruba
On the day before Christmas, the Democrats in Congress passed a alleged healthcare reform bill that the vast majority of Americans did not want. Nearly a million Americans had showed up on September 12 to let them know that, but they ignored them and now they have spat in their face, along with the rest of us.
Democrats have forgotten that democracy is supposed to reflect the voice of the People..
And thank you, Republicans, who stood together in opposition. What was most evident about Obamacare was the appalling bribery, using public money, of various members of Congress including the worst offenders, Senators Ben Nelson and Mary Landrieu’s $300 million “Louisiana purchase.”
Given the size of the bill and others like it this past year, it is clear that America is being taken to the poorhouse as the result of the billions in “pork” projects being attached to virtually every bill passing through Congress these days. The Medicare bill is so flawed that it has been called a “monstrosity.” The failed “Stimulus” bill was nothing but pork.
A friend of mine, Wes Driggers, a state certified general contractor, recommended an idea whose time has surely come. As Wes points out, “the reality is that this immoral practice has been going on for over 100 years and it is a corrupt practice to buy votes from their constituents come next election time.”
Wes asks and answers the question, what is so wrong with the practice?
1. It encourages legislators to vote for bill they may not have voted for otherwise.
2. It encourages legislators to buy the votes of their constituents regardless of the merit of the project.
3. It forces the taxpayers of the whole country to pay for a State’s project that may only potentially benefit that state. The Senate’s oldest serving member, Robert Byrd (D) of West Virginia, has become famous for the many projects there that bear his name at the expense of the other 49 States.
What needs to be done? Driggers recommends the following:
1. Term limits for all legislators. The Founding Fathers believed that men of virtue would serve a term or two and then return home, but we now have Senators and Representatives who, due to the practice of “seniority” and reelection, serve for decades. The voter’s inclination to simply reelect an incumbent member of Congress unless he has been found to be corrupt (and sometimes even then!) is itself an invitation to corrupt values and judgments.
2. Specifically, it should be illegal to include any spending provisions in any bill that are not directly associated with the main reason for the bill. In addition, make it illegal for the federal government to fund projects for any one State to the exclusion of others with the exception of aid required by natural disasters.
3. While we’re at it, the ever-expanding “perks” for legislators beyond their salaries should be reduced or eliminated until the budget is balanced.
4. And, of course, require by law that the federal budget be balanced every year. There should also be an end for all “off budget” items.
Both Wes Driggers and I agree that these proposals are not likely to be embraced by a Congress that now appears to be so corrupt that it is beyond redemption, but candidates in the 2010 midterm elections and those to come should be asked to sign a public statement to the effect that they support these measures.
Unless some degree of rationality returns to Congress, this nation is in deep trouble. Something is terribly wrong when the debt ceiling has been raised to $12.4 trillion in an economy that generates about $14 trillion Gross Domestic Product annually.
According to the Committee for Responsible Federal Budget, U.S. public debt has risen from 41% to 53% of GDP in the past year alone. They project it will be 85% by 2018. I believe this is a deliberate effort by the President and his cohorts to bankrupt the nation.