Last night, the Senate passed the omnibus spending bill, allowing the measure to move to President Obama's desk where he's expected to immediately sign it. The bill is only a budget-filler to take the government through until September, when the trillion-dollar-plus budget for 2010 is expected to come up.
I don't object to passing a budget - it's a necessary exercise. But the $8-billion in pet projects really bug me, and the fact that a number of prominent Republicans/traitors support the earmark process makes it doubly hard to swallow.
The big immediate excuse by all for those earmarks?
"It is in America's best interest to close the book on the last administration and let the new one hit the ground running," said Sen. Daniel Inouye, the Democratic chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee.
Please; Congress holds the purse-strings and determines what is in and out of the budget. Even if President Bush had personally requested each and every earmark (the largest requester by dollar value is Murtha, and the largest by number of earmarks is Shelby), blaming what is chosen today on something that originally came up for debate on a prior Administration (Bush refused to sign this bill until some of the earmarks were removed) is the height of childishness.
Here is a list of all the earmarks by dollar value. Strangely, one of the other reasons offered up for allowing the bill to pass as is, is that the earmark dollar value, as a percent of the total budget, is small, and that focus on that small amount is simply diversionary. Wow! $8-billion is such a small amount that you shouldn't worry your pretty little head about it. Now go back to the corner and play with your dolls. Here's a thought - I don't care if the amount is only $1-million. It's the corruption and waste that bothers me.
The long-term excuse for continuing the earmark culture is that the money would be spent anyway, and Congressional members are simply ensuring a 'fair share' for their individual states. This is an amazingly duplicitous argument. It would be reasonable to fight for a block of money to go to one's state or district, and then let the local and state governments go through their normal budgeting and allocation process. Instead, by having Congress decide which individuals projects are funded, local and state governments, and the normal bidding process are circumvented. This power can only lead to corruption in the end, and that end result is the reason McCain has been screaming about earmarks for twenty years.