January 26, 2009
Do You Want Yer Old Lobby Washed Down?
President Barack H. Obama has decreed that there will be no earmarks in the bulging Democratic "stimulus" package (which contains virtually nothing that might actually stimulate the economy); and indeed, he will probably be true to his word... the pork will not be doled out in relatively transparent earmarks, but by the utterly opaque decisions of local Democratic elected officials behind closed doors in formerly smoke-filled rooms:
President Barack Obama's ban on earmarks in the $825 billion economic stimulus bill doesn't mean interest groups, lobbyists and lawmakers won't be able to funnel money to pet projects.
They're just working around it -- and perhaps inadvertently making the process more secretive.
The projects run the gamut: a Metrolink station that needs building in Placentia, Calif.; a stretch of beach in Sandy Hook, N.J., that could really use some more sand; a water park in Miami.
There are thousands of projects like those that once would have been gotten money upfront but now are left to scramble for dollars at the back end of the process as "ready to go" jobs eligible for the stimulus plan.
The result, as The Associated Press learned in interviews with more than a dozen lawmakers, lobbyists and state and local officials, is a shadowy lobbying effort that may make it difficult to discern how hundreds of billions in federal money will be parceled out.
Change we can believe in!
It's a sad turn when we find ourselves pining for the good old days of earmarks, which at least were spelled out somewhere (even if inserted during the joint reconciliation conference between the Senate and House versions of a bill and never specifically voted on by the general membership of Congress). But even that is preferable to the nightmare that Obama's facile and naive prohibition of "earmarks" has wrought: Now, the anticipated $800 billion of new spending will simply be listed as a series of block grants to states or even individual cities, to be spent as the locals see fit... which means the same lobbyists that once courted Congress are now busily buddying up to local elected officials instead.
The latter will spend their share of the giveaway without any public accounting of where it went; and the only "oversight" will be by Democrat-dominated committees in Congress and la Casablanca. But I'm sure they'll apply just as strict a scrutiny to money spent by the Democratic governor of New York (David Paterson) or the Democratic mayor of San Francisco (Gavin Newsom) as they will to the Republican governor of Mississippi (Haley Barbour) or the Republican mayor of Oklahoma City (Mick Cornett)... don'tcha think?
Note the new category tag for this post; I expect to be using it incessantly for the next four years...
Hatched by Dafydd on this day, January 26, 2009, at the time of 2:41 AM
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The following hissed in response by: Ken Hahn
I live in Placentia CA and I can tell you there is absolutely no reason to build a Metrolink station here. There are perfectly good ones available in Anaheim Hills and Fullerton, both adjacent cities with Orange County Transit busses available to both for those without cars. There is not the slightest excuse for this, it's pure pork.
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