Thursday, December 14, 2006

Responsibility and Irresponsibility in Washington

Little commands my attention so much as examples, and counter-examples, of responsible governing. The GOP-led Congress, having been repudiated at the polls, isn't even trying to complete its most basic reponsibilities. When the gavel comes down on the current Congress, thirteen cabinet agencies will still not be funded for the fiscal year that began October 1.
I don't know to what extent the GOP leaders just walked away from their duties and to what extent they hoped to keep the Democrats busy in the new year. But according to the Washington Post, the incoming Democratic leadership has decided to wrap up the unfinished appropriations into one omnibus bill, without cluttering it up with the earmarks that have exploded in popularity in the last twelve years:
The plan by the incoming chairmen of the House and Senate Appropriations committees would kill thousands of hometown projects, called "earmarks," that lawmakers add to spending bills. Staying within President Bush's thrifty budgets for domestic agencies like the Agriculture and Education departments is part of their proposal.
"There will be no congressional earmarks," Rep. David Obey, D-Wis., and Sen. Robert Byrd, D-W.Va., said Monday in a statement announcing their plans, which were endorsed by incoming Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., and soon-to-be Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev.
Yes, that Senator Byrd, who has the reputation of playing the earmark game like a vintage mountain fiddle. As the Huntington, WV Herald-Dispatch reports, Byrd is giving up earmarks, at least for the remainder of the fiscal year:
Sen. Robert Byrd has built a reputation in Congress and in West Virginia using special interest funding to bring federal jobs and money home, but the king of pork said he's willing to give up his projects for 2007 to find a way out of the "fiscal chaos" left by the outgoing Republican-led Congress.
Byrd, incoming chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee, and his House counterpart Rep. David Obey of Wisconsin outlined their plan late Monday to pass a yearlong stopgap spending bill to keep government programs and agencies functioning until Sept. 30, 2007. To expedite the process, Byrd and Obey said they would eliminate earmarks -- funding inserted into bills by lawmakers for projects in their district or states -- from the unfinished budget.
Meanwhile, as the Washington Post reports, the GOP-led Congress, which has been too busy to see to the business of funding our federal government, has found time to give away buckets of tax breaks:
A huge tax bill that Congress passed last week contained a little-noticed gift for select corporations -- tens of millions of dollars in breaks on import tariffs.
Early Saturday morning, in the frantic final hours of the 109th Congress, lawmakers rolled 520 tariff suspensions into the must-pass bill. The provisions will reduce or eliminate taxes on imported products as varied as shoes, camcorders and boiled oysters.
While such suspensions have been around for decades, the flurry of provisions pushed this Congress to a record of nearly 800 for the year. Corporate lobbyists often craft such suspensions to apply to just one product imported by just one company. Many of those companies and their executives have given millions of dollars to political campaigns.
It's comforting to know that, come January, our congressional leaders will be minding the store on behalf of the American public.

2 Comments:

Anonymous FSP said...

""There will be no congressional earmarks," Rep. David Obey, D-Wis., and Sen. Robert Byrd, D-W.Va., said Monday in a statement announcing their plans, which were endorsed by incoming Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., and soon-to-be Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev."

Please.

The reason the bills weren't passed was because there were 10,000 earmarks in them, and a few Republican Senators fought them.

11:14 AM, December 16, 2006  
Anonymous kavips said...

Anyone want to peruse the newest Federal Budget report? Check out the chart on page 13.

http://www.fms.treas.gov/fr/06frusg/06frusg.pdf

1:44 AM, December 19, 2006  

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