Archive for Saturday, October 4, 2008

Passing the pork

Not even a bill that is portrayed as essential to save the American economy can gain passage without tacking on a little pork.

October 4, 2008


Americans might have more faith in the $700 billion economic bailout, rescue or whatever it should be called, if it were clear that Congress thought it was a good enough bill to pass on its own merits without the usual pork barrel measures tacked on to attract additional votes.

Unfortunately, that wasn't the case.

The legislation passed on Friday was portrayed as a necessary evil. No one liked the bill, but enough were convinced that it was necessary to avoid a major economic meltdown that would be far more painful for Americans in the long run.

The bill authorizes the Treasury to buy, hold and sell later - hopefully at a higher price - mortgages and other assets that are clogging financial balance sheets and limiting the availability of credit. To try to assuage taxpayers who are understandably angry about having to help finance this deal, lawmakers included some measures that will help keep families in their homes when possible, prevent so-called "golden parachute" payoffs to departing executives, and other protections.

But after the bailout bill failed once in the U.S. House, lawmakers went a little further afield to try to gain votes for the measure. By the time it passed the House on Friday, the bill included such unrelated provisions as tuition and child care tax credits, $18 billion in incentives to develop clean alternative energy and a requirement that health insurance plans that cover mental health care use the same co-payments and other standards for that care as are applied to physical care. And, of course, don't forget the reduction in Puerto Rico rum excise taxes and wool import duties and tax credits for training mine rescue teams, employment near Indian reservations and maintaining railroad tracks, among others.

Not only do these measures have little to do with the bailout plan, they actually diminish the revenue the federal government will have available to pay for the plan.

To average Americans, such pork makes no sense, but it clearly is the way things get done in Congress. Apparently, a bailout bill that some lawmaker(s) couldn't support on its own merits suddenly looks a lot better when it includes a tax credit for economic development in American Samoa.

Every American should fervently hope that the measure passed Friday will have an immediate calming effect on the stock market and a long-term positive impact on the economy. If it does, all the pork that made passage of the bill palatable to Congress may be worth it, but it still leaves a bad taste in our mouths.


S0uPnAzi 9 years, 7 months ago

This is precisely what is wrong with our Congress. They don't do the will of the people, they do the will of the lobbyists, and arm twisters. The Senate, no less, is the guilty party that piled on the pork this time! I think they all need to be voted out, and kick the lobbyists out right behind them. This is a disgrace!

TheOriginalCA 9 years, 7 months ago

Yes, I will believe in ANYthing as long as there is something in it for me FIRST.

Tom McCune 9 years, 7 months ago

If Congress had been able to set aside the partisan political pork just this once, and had shown real solidarity in the face of a national emergency, this bailout might have worked. But they just couldn't do it, not even this once. I therefore predict this will fail and the situation could become even worse than the 1930s. Think 1932, except with hyperinflation added into the mix.If the banking and financial system goes into a cascading collapse, the root cause won't be anything related to mortgages. The root cause will be the vast amount of money currently used to bribe politicians and buy political office. The current occupants of Washington all got there by accepting huge sums from special interests and using it to outspend their opponents on political advertising that provides no information about their actual policies or positions. As quid pro quo, the current occupants of Washington have thrown away most reasonable regulations that used to protect ordinary people and have instituted many sweeping protections for the Wall Street firms and lobbyists who bought them their offices.The only long term fix involves eliminating the vast sums currently used to buy politicians, offices, and public policies.

Scott Drummond 9 years, 7 months ago

"Well, Libeal Dude, he either had to allow the economy to crash, or go ahead and vote for it. He chose the lesser of two evils!"Oh no you don't. McCain is out on the campaign trail bragging about how he brought the House Republicans along to pass this thing. If he truly was responsible for their votes to pass (something I doubt, but that is another story,) then he has to own up to the fact that he was instrumental in passing this pork-laden bill. McCain has staked his appeal on his so-called "maverick" status. This arises out of McCain's largely ineffectual bitching about various pork barrel spending throughout the years. The implication of his claim to maverick status is that he will put a stop to such wasteful spending. In truth, however, as we see, he is all too weak and willing to go along to get along when to his political advantage to do so. Facing a near veto proof Democratic majority in the Senate next year, McCain (if by some miracle elected) will have little say in the spending priorities.

tangential_reasoners_anonymous 9 years, 7 months ago

Sooooo... "... if President, John McCain would veto any bill that came across his desk with pork"... UNLESS....

Flap Doodle 9 years, 7 months ago

"John McCain said that if President he would veto any bill that came across his desk with pork."Well, he isn't President yet, is he?

LiberalDude 9 years, 7 months ago

John McCain said that if President he would veto any bill that came across his desk with pork. This bill had lots of pork and he still voted for it. What's up with that???Hypocrite.

situveux1 9 years, 7 months ago

Right there, that's why everyone should get out and vote AGAINST Dennis Moore. We shouldn't stand by and watch this guy vote for $700 billion wasted dollars TWICE!!!

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