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Posts Tagged ‘Pork’

Taxpayer-funded cowboy poetry? Is this an example of when parody becomes reality? Or is it the other way around, when reality becomes parody?

All I know for sure is that it is nauseating that the corrupt crowd in Washington thinks it is not only proper, but also praiseworthy, to steal money from the rest of the nation to fund vote-buying gimmicks in their home states.

Here’s a blurb from Politico about Harry Reid and his boondoggle.

In the middle of his tirade against House Republicans’ “mean-spirited” budget bill on the Senate floor Tuesday, the Senate Majority Leader lamented that the GOP’s proposed budget cuts would eliminate the annual “cowboy poetry festival” in his home state of Nevada. …“The mean-spirited bill, H.R. 1 … eliminates the National Endowment of the Humanities, National Endowment of the Arts,” said Reid. “These programs create jobs. The National Endowment of the Humanities is the reason we have in northern Nevada every January a cowboy poetry festival. Had that program not been around, the tens of thousands of people who come there every year would not exist.”

I must have an out-dated version of the Constitution, because my copy doesn’t say that cowboy poetry is one of the enumerated powers of the federal government.

I suppose a caveat is appropriate. I realize that I’m not the most sophisticated guy in the world. I wouldn’t recognize good poetry from bad poetry. I’d rather chew on broken glass than attend an opera. My idea of a good time is playing softball with a bunch of guys, talking sports and swapping jokes.

So I’m not attacking poetry in general or cowboy poetry in particular. But I am objecting to federal subsidies for such events. I don’t ask other people to subsidize my softball. All I ask in exchange is that they don’t coerce me into subsidizing their hobbies.

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The fiscal fight on Capitol Hill has triggered a firestorm of lobbying, as greedy special interests are squealing about a potential loss of handouts.

This USA Today story focuses on funding for the Corporation for Public Broadcasting and Planned Parenthood, both of which are whining that the world will come to an end if they can no longer stick their snouts in the public trough.

But it doesn’t matter whether you like watching Sesame Street or what you think about abortion. This is a debate about whether funding those activities in a proper function of the federal government. If we can’t stop mooching in these areas, we may as well surrender now and start learning French or Greek.

Planned Parenthood, public radio stations and scores of other interests are scrambling to make their cases heard on Capitol Hill, hiring new lobbyists, mailing petitions, buying TV ads and, in one case, deploying PBS’ Arthur the Aardvark cartoon character to Congress to rescue the Corporation for Public Broadcasting from budget cutters. A focus of the lobbying free-for-all: a House-passed bill to fund the government through Sept. 30 that would cut $61 billion in federal spending. …The Corporation for Public Broadcasting, which helps fund public radio and television stations, has “outlived its usefulness,” said Rep. Doug Lamborn, R-Colo., who authored legislation to cut the funding. The corporation is set to receive $430 million this year. “In this day and age, we have 150 cable channels and the Internet over our cellphones,” Lamborn said. “We no longer need a government source of media. This seems to be a natural place to start the discussion about getting our fiscal house in order.” Patrick Butler, head of the Association of Public Television Stations, called the measure a “mortal threat” and said it would do little to reduce this year’s $1.6 trillion federal deficit. …Planned Parenthood receives $330 million annually from Medicaid and the family planning program, spokesman Tait Sye said. Planned Parenthood officials say no federal funds are used for abortions, but opponents say the federal support frees up money to perform the procedure. Rep. Mike Pence, R-Ind., a strong opponent of abortion, pushed the measure. “He doesn’t believe the nation’s largest abortion provider should be the largest recipient of federal funding under Title X,” Pence spokesman Matt Lloyd said. …The lobbying frenzy over the budget won’t end soon. President Obama, who threatened to veto the House-passed bill, and congressional leaders are working to negotiate a new spending bill to keep the government running past midnight March 18. Even if they can reach a deal to fund agencies through the Sept. 30 end of the current fiscal year, another confrontation lies ahead — this one over the fiscal year 2012 budget, which Obama sent to Congress last month.

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Apologies to Star Wars fans for the title, but it seemed very fitting considering the profound amoral mentality of the lobbyists who have launched a public relations campaign to defend earmarks. The key part of the story is excerpted below for your reading pleasure, but let’s focus on the “best” defense of earmarking. I’ve talked to some Republican politicians who argue the practice is legitimate because it means that elected officials rather than faceless bureaucrats are deciding how money is being allocated. That sounds semi-legitimate, but it overlooks three key problems.

1. Earmarking facilitates higher spending. The politicians on the Appropriations Committees allow other members to insert special requests (earmarks) – but only if they agree to vote for the underlying bill. This “log-rolling” practice makes it much more difficult for fiscally responsible members to convince their colleagues to support smaller budgets.

2. Earmarking is naked corruption. In the majority of cases, earmarks are inserted at the request of campaign contributors. In some cases, the contributors are lobbyists representing clients. In other cases, the contributors are the actual earmark beneficiaries. In either case, the process accurately could be described as bribery.

3. Earmarking supports programs and activities that should not exist. The “bridge to nowhere” became a symbol of the earmarking process, but the underlying problem is that members of the Alaska delegation focused on steering as many transportation dollars to their state as possible when they should have been fighting to get rid of the Department of Transportation.

Almost everybody in Washington loves earmarks. Politicians get to raise campaign cash. Lobbyists get rich charging clients. Special interests get money they haven’t earned. Congressional staff facilitate the process so they eventually can become rich lobbyists. The only losers are taxpayers and the Constitution. Anyhow, here’s the nauseating excerpt:

Lobbyists who pursue congressional earmarks are planning a public-relations campaign to defend the practice, as voters signal they no longer want lawmakers to direct millions of federal dollars to pet projects back home. The Ferguson Group, one of the largest earmark lobbying shops in Washington, is seeking donations from other appropriations lobbyists to establish a group that would promote the benefits of earmarks through a media campaign, according to documents obtained by The Hill. …“We have decided to form an informal coalition, tentatively called the Earmark Reform and Education Coalition, with the overall goal being to foster a rational conversation about earmarking among all interested parties, so that we can preserve what works and reform what does not.” …A third option is to partner with the American League of Lobbyists (ALL), according to Ferguson’s memo. Dave Wenhold, ALL’s president and a partner at Miller/Wenhold Capitol Strategies, said the organization has not decided on whether to join the campaign, but he defended earmarks as “the most transparent and accountable form of funding.”

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This new video from the Center for Freedom and Prosperity explains how last year’s so-called stimulus was a flop – and also reveals why politicians are pushing for another big-government spending bill.

Interestingly, since last year’s stimulus was such a disaster, the redistributionists in Washington are calling their new proposal a “jobs bill.” But as I say in the video, this is akin to putting perfume on a hog.

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