I have to build on Philip’s post about the $410 billion porkulus spending bill. Obama, having sworn during the campaign to cut wasteful spending, has reneged on his vow to sign the bill in the quiet of night–where the public couldn’t see it. No cameras, no news about it. He’s just trying to downplay it by making the excuse that they absolutely HAVE to have a spending bill right now, this minute, or the lights go off in government buildings.
Obama just doesn’t want to ruffle the feathers of major political contributors right now. The problem, however, is that after more than doubling the national deficit, he’s not addressing the serious problem of spending money on things that we don’t need right now. We should be going in a more fiscally responsible direction. We should be putting non-essential projects on a back burner while we take care of the situation at hand. But Democrats (and Republicans alike in the case of earmarks) don’t know how to lay off the taxpayers’ buck.
Let’s talk about some of the more eggregious dipping being committed right now. Senator Ted Kennedy (D-MA) has secured $125 million in earmarked funds. One out of every five dollars in the bill is going directly to the Kennedy legacy, including $5.8 million for the “Edward M. Kennedy Institute for the Senate” and $22 million for upgrades at the JFK Memorial Library. This ranks right up there with people on welfare complaining that they need more food stamps while they buy new rims and loud stereos for their flashy cars.
Representative Charlie Rangel (D-NY) doesn’t know how to cut back, either. While his personal net worth is around $1.2 million, he’s charging us upwards of $777 a month for a 17-foot, 300-horsepower Cadillac DeVille. He also–in direct violation of New York law–snapped up four rent-stabilized apartments that the owner gave him a 50% below-market discount for. He uses one of the apartments as an election office. According to Jason Mattera, the owner of the complex received permits to expand the complex in return. Rangel also shorted the Dominican Republic taxes on his half-a-million-dollar villa to the tune of about $75,000.
(And if anyone can help me find more information on the other 125 House Representatives who dip into the public coffers for their personal transportation, regardless of party affiliation, I’ll be happy to post it.)
Nancy Pelosi seems to think the Air Force is her personal escort service. She makes unreasonable demands for large, exorbitant aircraft to shuttle her, her co-workers and relatives all over the globe, even asking for one to take her husband on a trip that he was not authorized to go on. Department of Defense officials have been at a loss as to how to deal with Madame Speaker, as her demands have been draining and have included multiple last-minute cancels (which are costly). Staffers have harrassed DoD officials upon finding that specific aircraft would not be available at the Speaker’s request, and Pelosi had the temerity to request that a jet be repositioned for her personal use–something the DoD was completely unwilling to do and had to fight tooth and nail to avoid.
All this from a House Speaker insisting that we all do our part to reduce our so-called “carbon footprint.” Do as I say, not as I do.
In a day and age when we’re all tightening our belts and learning to save more than we spend, lawmakers are too busy making sure they get what they want (including their lavish lifestyles) at our expense. With unemployment skyrocketing, we cannot afford anything that isn’t necessary for the upkeep of our economy. Yet we have Congressmen travelling first class and living even better at no cost to themselves.
The ruling class owns us. And we’re happy to oblige.