November 2, 2007

Vetoing The Flood Of Pork

President Bush just added another resident to Vetoland, this resident being the water projects bill that got saturated with pork-barrel projects in conference. Despite having enough votes to override his veto, Bush sent the bill back as a protest against its escalating earmarks:

An increasingly confrontational President Bush on Friday vetoed a bill authorizing hundreds of popular water projects even though lawmakers can count enough votes to override him.

In doing so, Bush brushed aside significant objections from Capitol Hill, even from Republicans, in thwarting legislation that provides projects for a host of aims, including those that would repair hurricane damage, restore wetlands and prevent flooding in communities across the nation. ...

The $23 billion water bill passed in both chambers of Congress by well more than the two-thirds majority needed to vacate a veto and make the bill law.

Bush objected to the $9 billion in projects added during negotiations on the measure between the House and Senate. He hoped that his action, even though it is sure not to hold, would cast him as a friend to conservatives who demand a tighter rein on federal spending.

The reason for the veto seems rather obvious. The House approved a $14 billion waterworks bill, and the Senate approved a $15 billion companion bill. Rather than split the difference and approve a $14.5 billion bill, or even go with the Senate's $15 billion, the conference committee reported out a $23 billion bill that proves that when pork multiplies, it's because taxpayers are getting screwed.

Seriously -- how did an extra $8 billion get added to the bill in conference? That's an increase of over 50% from the Senate bill, in conference. The larger embarrassment is that our elected representatives didn't see this greedy manipulation of the conference process as any big deal and overwhelmingly supported the results.

That's what pork does to corrupt the legislative process -- it buys votes. It's a bribery system that helps cover up another bribery system. One porcine paw washes the other, and the resulting appropriations grow on grotesque scales almost overnight.

Bush may well lose this veto override vote, but it's a good veto nonetheless. I can't wait to hear this bill's advocates explain why the cost went up over 50% in conference when neither chamber contemplated that level of spending during their public debates. This Congress has proven itself even more irresponsible and greedy than the last few -- and that's really saying something.


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