Saturday, April 12, 2003
Being a pseudo-libertarian, I can't say I agree with everything in this article. But the examples of more irresponsible government spending is something you should read. And sneaking this into a war bill....disgracefull. Of course, I know this is no new thing. This is often how things are done in Congress. But that doesn't mean we have to put up with it. Brackets indicate any edits I made to the article.
Congress is profiteering on the war
by funding special interests, Libertarians say
WASHINGTON, DC -- The bill funding the war in Iraq has become jam-packed with so many special-interest favors -- such as a $250 million grant for Southern catfish farmers -- that Congress should be ashamed to vote for it, the Libertarian Party says.
"Unfortunately, wartime looting isn't confined to Iraq," said Geoffrey Neale, the party's national chairman. "Politicians in Washington, DC, are using the fog of late-night legislating to cover their tracks as they funnel money to their political supporters."
As a House-Senate conference committee negotiates the final details of legislation funding the Iraq war, Democrats and Republicans are scrambling to insert dozens of special-interest riders. Though the $80 billion package was stalled by disagreements on Wednesday, it is expected to be completed within days and presented to President Bush.
According to an estimate by Rep. Ron Paul, R-TX, the bill contains $20 billion in "wartime pork," or spending that has no connection with the war in Iraq or the battle against terrorism.
"By turning the bill into a spigot for special interests, Congress is profiteering on the war -- and that should anger every American," Neale said.
One especially egregious example: Republican Sen. Thad Cochran [yes, OUR Thad Cochran] inserted language that would funnel $250 million to Southern catfish farmers, many of them in his home state of Mississippi, under the guise of providing drought relief for livestock producers.
Other "war-time pork" includes:
* $69 million to fund a "Bill Emerson Humanitarian Trust," named after the former Missouri Congressman.
* A measure intended to prevent a German company, DHL Worldwide Express, from competing with Federal Express and United Parcel Service in the delivery of military cargo. During the 2002 election cycle, UPS gave $1.5 million to Democratic and Republican candidates and $300,000 to the Republican National Committee, Neale noted.
* $98 million for an agricultural research lab in Iowa, and $250 million in other Agriculture Department grants.
* $3.2 billion to extend unemployment benefits for airline employees.
* $11 million for Congressional salaries and expenses.
* A total of $12.4 million for the Library of Congress, the Congressional Research Service, the General Accounting Office and the U.S. Court of International Trade.
* $8 billion in foreign aid for nations that are supposedly helping the fight against terrorism, including Poland, Hungary, Slovakia, Slovenia and Djibouti.
"It's disgraceful that politicians who publicly brag about supporting our troops are privately using this war as a device to enrich special interests and benefit their own re-election campaigns," Neale said.
"The Libertarian Party is challenging Mr. Bush to veto this bill. Maybe that will send a message to the politicians who insist on conducting business as usual in Washington, DC -- while their fellow Americans are dying in Iraq."