Thursday, July 27, 2006

Pork, Earmarks, and Congress-vermin

The Club For Growth -
"Thanks to Congressman Jeff Flake's 19 anti-pork amendments, we now have every House member on record regarding their positions on earmarks. Before now, House members have been able to avoid scrutiny because their pork was co-mingled with other projects and tucked into the dark corners of big spending bills."
So here's the deal; our congressman (R-Jeff Miller, Florida District 1) has a pretty good record -- he voted against pork on 15 of the 19 ammendments. But why wasn't he 100%? Yes, he could have joined the hundreds of Dems and rebulicans that voted FOR pork on all 19, but I'm not satisfied with even 4 votes for pork.

So I looked a little closer to see what types of pork our dear congressman likes. Answer: 1. ($1,000,000) for a locomotive shop in Penn. 2. Swimming pool in Banning, CA ($500,000) 3. Lewis Center for Education Research ($4,000,000) 4. Leonard Wood Research Institute ($20,000,000)...
24.6 million dollars on a bunch of pork. Thanks Jeff Miller.

Sorry droning on here, but I dug down a little to see some specifics and came across the actual text of the debate on the House floor. They all sound basically the same but I'll copy the dialogue surrounding the first one to give you a flavor of what's being said:

Amendment offered by Mr. Flake (R-Arizona):
None of the funds made available by this Act may be used for Juniata Ultra Low Emission Locomotive Demonstration, PA.

Mr. FLAKE: Mr. Chairman, this is $1 million for the Juniata locomotive shop…it goes to a locomotive shop owned by Norfolk Southern. I can't know for sure, because there is no description of the earmark anywhere in the bill.
…Again, here is a situation where we know so little about this earmark, and this seems to be the only forum where we can find out about it ... Has this been authorized? What is the process of oversight? That is what we are here for.

Mr. HOBSON: Mr. Chairman, I rise in opposition to the amendment.

Mr. HOBSON: Mr. Chairman, I yield 4 minutes to the gentleman from Pennsylvania (Mr. Shuster).

Mr. SHUSTER: Mr. Chairman, I rise today in strong opposition to my colleague's amendment, which seeks to eliminate an important research and development program that would take place in the Juniata locomotive shop, which is in Altoona, Pennsylvania. Yes, that is my district. [ed. Obviously, you freaking vermin. Lets use money from taxpayers all across the nation to fund your buddies in your district.] I am proud to stand up and take claim for this earmark. [ed. its just shameless…]

…This new hybrid locomotive will reduce harmful emissions, increase fuel efficiency and take locomotive research and development in a new direction. [ed. So what? Just because something is good doesn’t mean the federal government should fund it!]

The freight rail industry consumed over 4 billion gallons of diesel fuel in 2005 and freight rail traffic has grown at unprecedented levels in the past 3 years. Finding new technologies to save fuel in the movement of freight will benefit everybody. [ed. Bull-crap.]

Additionally, it is important to note that any technology gains from this project and research development will be open to the public. [ed. Keep dreaming. Any technology will be patented by GE so fast it would make your head spin.] So this a 10 percent investment by the public, and everybody will benefit. General Electric will benefit. [ed. That’s the truth] The other rail companies will benefit by this research and development.

Further, Mr. Chairman, this is about more than just reducing energy use. It is about improving our environment. [ed. More bull-crap.]

I prefer working cooperatively with the private sector to reduce harmful emissions of nitrous oxide, hydrocarbons, and particulate matter. This program seeks to accomplish this as well. [ed. we have a whole federal program to work on protecting the environment – if you want to bump up funding for it, then do so. Don’t try to sneak in this pork under the guise of environmentalism. Freaking vermin.]

Mr. Chairman, I would encourage my colleague from Arizona to withdraw the amendment, but, if not, I hope my colleagues will support me and vote down this amendment. This initiative, if enacted, it will, by 2008, will have hybrid locomotives as well as hybrid cars moving us into the future. [ed. Right – this 1million dollar kickback to a locomotive shop in your district is going to help get us hybrid cars. What a liar…]

Mr. Chairman, let me just make the point that why would we assist only the locomotive sector? What about construction vehicles, highway vehicles? Again, we are picking and choosing, just based on our decisions. We are not the font of all knowledge. [ed. Exactly! Jeff Flake for President!]

And if we decide that we are just going to direct every bit of spending and that we are not going to have oversight because we have directed it and therefore we need no oversight, and all we have in terms of oversight is this 5 minutes that we have really never exercised before to question an earmark when it comes to the House floor, Mr. Chairman, I would submit that we have a broken process here. It is simply wrong. We cannot be doing this.

In 1987, President Reagan vetoed the highway bill because there were 152 earmarks. The last highway bill we passed last year had over 6,000. Other bills have had similar increases in earmarks. And yet we say it is not enough.

If we know our own districts and we know how to direct spending, then why not direct it all? Why not earmark every account?

Again, we have demonstrated again and again, some of the authors of these amendments have not even shown up to defend them. We do not even know if there is any oversight for previous earmarks or for the ones that are here now. Yet we just blindly just say, all right, if a Member wants it, let's approve it.

We try and try and we will come up with an example of where this earmark led to this discovery or that, and we ignore that when we take money from the taxpayers and spend it on a teapot museum or on the Punxsutawney Weather Museum in Pennsylvania or on the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame or on the Baseball Hall of Fame, then we are taking money we should not take from the taxpayers at all.

Go Jeff Flake! Boooo on Miller for the 4 times he voted for federal pork spending.

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