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June 12, 2007

Congress Ready To Push 36,000 Unexamined Pork Earmarks Onto Unwilling, Unconsulted Public

And David Obey threatens to stop all earmarks if Republicans continue making a fuss.

Ummm... your offer is accepted in principle.

I put the blame for this on President Bush. What a shock, I know. The fact of the matter is that these earmarks have no leglislative or legal force; they're stuck into the Congressional record and honored by the various agencies, adminstrations, and bureaucracies not because any binding law requires them to do so, but because they fear -- justifiably -- that if they do not keep Congress happy, Congress will slash their budgets.

Well, for one thing, again: Your offer is accepted in principle.

But President Bush could eliminate almost all earmark spending with a simple executive order stating that any earmark spending proposal not actually incorporated into a voted-upon spending bill will be presumptively dismissed and dishonored, the only exceptions being that if the agency, after concluding a lengthy and extensive vetting process, determines that the project is extremely important in economic and national security terms.

Currently anyone working at these agencies knows the path of least resistance is simply to give Congressmen their precious earmarks. That keeps the money flowing.

But Bush, with a simple executive order (he does control the executive branch of government, no matter how the media and Democratic Party would like to argue that point) can make approval of earmarks the path of high resistance, requiring an awful lot work by employees to show just cause for the earmark. Further, as these people are only authorizing this spending to protect their own jobs (less Congressional money = higher chance of layoffs or early retirements or firings), Bush can push back against this tendency as the tax-money-spenders' actual direct employer by laying down the law that those who thoughtlessly spend the public's money on unvetted, unlegislatively-approved projects will themselves be jeopardizing their employment.

Why won't he do this?

Meanwhile... David Boehner, previously not much of an earmark hawk, is ready to declare "war" on the Democratic Congress' pork frenzy.

Minority Leader John Boehner threatened Democratic leaders Tuesday, vowing to slow down legislative activities in the House until Democrats agree to open up earmarking policy so that lawmakers disclose their pet projects earlier in the bill-making process.

"Republicans today are going to declare war on our Democratic majority over these secret slush funds," Boehner told reporters on Capitol Hill.

Republicans are hoping to hold Democrats to an earlier promise to make earmark requests more transparent by revealing where earmarks are designated and which lawmaker is requesting them before spending bills reach the House floor. Democrats want to release that information during the conference committee process, well after the House votes for appropriations.

Boehner, R-Ohio, said he is upset over the change of heart, and Democrats need to "realize the errors of their ways."

Rep. David Obey, D-Wis., chairman of the House Appropriations Committee, said Monday he would kill all pet projects if Republican leaders "demagogue" the issue. Obey said lawmakers had submitted more than 32,000 earmark requests this year.

It only took the Democrats five months to lower their approval below that of the GOP's approval rate before the 2006 elections.

Thanks, Nancy!

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posted by Ace at 09:24 PM

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