March 21, 2007

Pork Serves The White House

Mark Tapscott writes a provocative article which takes the Bush administration to task for not fulfilling its promise to end pork-barrel spending. Noting that the President pledged to cut earmarks by half in the last State of the Union speech, Mark wants to know why he left it at 50%:

President Bush vows to veto an Iraq emergency supplemental funding bill if it comes to his desk stuffed with pork unrelated to keeping U.S. troops in Iraq properly armed, clothed and fed.

But Bush may have undercut his ability to shape the Iraq bill and indeed all other spending measures with a State of the Union promise. You will recall that Bush condemned earmarks and challenged Congress to work with him to cut them in half. ...

Curiously, Bush offered no rationale for preserving half of the earmarks he rightly condemned, nor did he even hint at a timetable for eliminating them entirely.

Now comes the Iraq supplemental in which Bush originally asked Congress to appropriate $105 billion for the troops in Iraq and for continued Gulf Coast hurricane relief.

The White House courier delivering the supplemental proposal to Congress had hardly left the Capitol grounds before House Democrats began meeting in secret to pork it up. They stuffed the Iraq supplemental with more than $20 billion worth of pork, some designed to buy votes for the measure but all of it done behind closed doors.

That's the problem with half-measures, a term that literally applies in this instance. It only encourages one's opponent to double down in order to get all of what they wanted. This appears to be the case with this bill, as Democrats and Republicans alike try to use earmarks to get the bill passed in Congress as well as to protect their ability to get re-elected.

The administration has vowed a veto if the bill has "too much pork", but no one has suggested a formula for that calculation. Apparently, like Justice Lewis Powell on obscenity, the White House will know a pork overdose when it sees one. In the meantime, facing a hostile Congress for the first time, the Bush administration appears committed to keeping earmarks on the table as bargaining power to preserve its own agenda.

Be sure to read all of Mark's editorial. Porkbusting still has a long way to go.


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Comments (14)

Posted by Coriolan [TypeKey Profile Page] | March 21, 2007 7:32 AM

Point well taken, but the SCOTUS justice who knew obscenity when he saw it was Potter Stewart, not Lewis Powell.

Posted by syn [TypeKey Profile Page] | March 21, 2007 7:55 AM

And by encouraging voters to oust Republican pork candidates, the Porkbusters will be serving the $900 billion tax increase the Dems are going to give Americans.

Thanks ever so much.

Posted by Lew [TypeKey Profile Page] | March 21, 2007 7:58 AM

I can't wait for the campaign to get to that magic point where all of the presidential candidates promise that they will go to Washington to "make nice" with Congress and "be a uniter" and make all the soccer moms get all warm and fuzzy inside. At that point, we should all get together and stage a massive "puke-in" to express our "unity"!

I can't see how the Republican Party has much of a future unless we make the determination to be different from the long sad history of "politics as usual". If the only real change we ever bring about is to direct the graft to OUR friends rather than THEIR friends, then why should anyone care?

Posted by Brooklyn [TypeKey Profile Page] | March 21, 2007 9:03 AM

while fighting a GWOT, there are few other priorities...

looks like the WH is going to reject of the billion buck emergency spending bill for Iraq and Afghanistan, the Dems are trying to force upon the Nation filled with pork for their Partisans.

of course, the rebuke is partly due to some pathetic deadline effort, imposed by the Democrats on our foriegn policy...

pork is an important reform issue, but we have to view the entire picture, including more pressing priorities.

long ago, to gain support for the Cold War, the legend Ronald Reagan compromised repeatedly with mindless politicians and their obsession to spend.

Posted by reddog [TypeKey Profile Page] | March 21, 2007 9:11 AM

Why should he start now? GW has never offered a truthful rationale for anything he's ever done. In or out of the Whitehouse.

Posted by burt [TypeKey Profile Page] | March 21, 2007 9:43 AM

The WH continues to make stupid mistakes.
1. Stupid large supplemental spending bills. I understand that they can't calculate the DOD costs exactly in the original budget, but they always go in for a big supplement, typically $100 B or so. They could have been much closer and any supplemental would be small and provide congress with much less leverage. To get a research contract from DOD or other parts of the government one has to bid a specific dollar amount. The bid is always wrong. I suggest it is no easier to estimate a research contract than the DOD budget. If DOD is under funded they can carry some costs into a new year or get a supplemental. An under funded contract usually is corrected by unpaid labor.
2. A history of not vetoing. I believe Bush has used vetoes less per year than any president in about a century. He has no credibility as a president who vetoes. He has had more good chances than most presidents. He would have taken many of them were he a conservative.
3. Earmarks light. That remark in his speech was obviously stupid when he made it. He should have made a statement six years ago with his pen.

Posted by unclesmrgol [TypeKey Profile Page] | March 21, 2007 10:13 AM

Bush is right. Half is better than all, and the amount removed can be viewed as the first approximation to lim(1/(2**n)) as n goes to infinity.

Remember, even Lincoln, as much as he wanted to, could not get rid of slavery in one step -- it took his opponents' miscalculation in starting a war to allow him the freedom to contain and eradicate slavery, and even then it had to be done "one bite at a time".

Cutting pork in half will require a great amount of oversight in Congress -- negotiations and such. And whatever program is put in place can be used when pork is cut in half yet again.

This is not an addiction for which a cold turkey cure will work. But the 12-step program needs to be developed and used.

Posted by SkyWatch [TypeKey Profile Page] | March 21, 2007 10:23 AM

I am scared.

If they do pass it on for Bush to sign and he doesn't, does that mean that the troops will not get what they need?

When the 94 show down happened it was just a bunch of people who needed the feds to pay them but today it is a war.

I know the Dems are loading it with goodies so they bribe others to vote for it but dang ...

what happens if Bush vetoes it? Do the troops suffer?

Posted by syn [TypeKey Profile Page] | March 21, 2007 11:06 AM

On the money Unclemrgol

If only the porkbusters had waited until Bush's tax cuts were made permanent before gouging Republican porkers then we wouldn't even be in the position of having to deal with this newest Democrat extortion tactic nor lose the economic moment the Dems tax increase will halt.

I hope porkbusters have learned an important lesson in their tactical mistake, it is easy to take down the Stupid Party however the Evil Party will never let you get anywhere near their position of power.

Our tax rates will never be this low again nor will be Democrat entitlement spending.

Posted by Monkei [TypeKey Profile Page] | March 21, 2007 11:57 AM

The WH promises a veto if there is too much pork? This statement is obvious an error and should read ... The WH promises a veto if there is too much pork they don't agree with. They won't have a problem signing off on anything that is the cut of pork they like!

It's whats wrong with Washington and has been for years and previous administrations. WIth the current setup and a two party system it will always continue.

Lew Lew Lew ... go back and look at your 2000 race for the white house ... GWB claimed he was INDEED the uniter!

Posted by Lew [TypeKey Profile Page] | March 21, 2007 12:42 PM

You bet he did Monkei, what's your point?

He wasn't my favorite guy, but he won the nomination and with all of his faults he was still better than Al Gore, by a country mile. He's not the first candidate I had to hold my nose and vote for, and he won't be the last. In fact I don't know of anybody that fit's my bill exactly but that shouldn't surprise anybody. I'm looking for a cross between Andrew Jackson and Milton Friedman!

Let me know when you see one of them animals!

Posted by DamnWalker [TypeKey Profile Page] | March 21, 2007 2:26 PM

There you go again...conservatives refusing to accept realistic, incremental progress toward their stated goal because....well because I want it all and I want it NOW! Waaaaaa......

With the "all or nothing", "my way or take the ball & go home" mentality, nothing and the highway is what you will get. Half a loaf is better than no loaf, and you, me, the democrats and the whole world know that there is no way we will ever get ALL. Take what you can get this year, and go for more next year; establish a pattern, obtain conscensus buy-in, and leverage them to even greater gains in coming years.

UNCLESMRGOT is dead on the money. Get real, or get nothing.

Posted by Mr Lynn [TypeKey Profile Page] | March 21, 2007 3:07 PM

The President has to veto the bill, both because of the deadlines and the pork, and he has to dare the Congress to de-fund the war. Anything less would simply confirm his terminal lame-duck weakness, and invite the Democrats to steamroll the administration for the rest of his term.

Cap'n, an 'editorial' is an unsigned opinion of the publisher; a signed opinion piece is a 'column'. You know this, but it's such a common mistake that you have to set an example by getting it right.

/Mr Lynn

Posted by Lew [TypeKey Profile Page] | March 21, 2007 3:41 PM


If you don't believe you can get it all, then you're right. You never will.

I reserve the right to scream my head off in an effort to get it all, then quietly settle for what I can get. Then consolidate my grip on what I've got and scream like hell for more.

I will always settle for what I can get, but I will never give up trying for it all. I believe its possible, so it will always be possible for me. You believe its not, so you'll never try.