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Posts Tagged ‘pork’

Your tax dollars at work

Posted by Richard on January 14, 2019

Or to be more precise, your tax dollars and your children’s tax dollars and your grandchildren’s tax dollars. Caleb Hull, unhappy that Congress won’t fund a border wall/fence/whatever, went on a Twitter rant last week pointing out some of the absurd and outrageous things that Congress has funded. Twitchy, of course, collected his tweets for your easy perusal. Here are some of my favorites:

  • $765,828 on pancakes: tax dollars subsidized an IHOP in an “under-served” area of DC

Because making pancakes at home is so difficult and expensive. Can you even buy Bisquick and Mrs. Butterworth’s with a SNAP card? Plus, the obesity rate of the poor isn’t nearly high enough. (I’m guessing that the franchise owner of the IHOP in question has a friend at the Capitol.)

  • $442,340 studying behavior of male prostitutes in Vietnam

No doubt the researchers who got this grant privately referred to it as “gaycation money.”

  • $2,000,000 for the Department of Agriculture to fund an internship program. The program hired ONE full-time intern.
  • $250M training 60 Syrian rebels to fight the Islamic State

So funding a USDA intern costs $2 million, but funding a Syrian rebel costs over $4 million? I thought the cost of living was much lower in Syria than in D.C.

  • $10M on creating two video games aimed at fighting obesity (FOR REAL)

Um, doesn’t the very existence of video games contribute to obesity?

  • $5M on tweeting responses to pro-ISIS rhetoric

Hey, Congress, there are plenty of us who’d be happy to do this more cheaply. Put this out for competitive bidding!

  • $325,000 to build a robot squirrel

Ooh, I want one! My cats could have a great time with it. And keeping my cats amused should be considered an essential government service.

If you want to know more about how Congress is frittering away your hard-earned money (and your blood pressure can stand it), get to know Citizens Against Government Waste. Their 2018 Pig Book details the 232 pork projects (earmarks) funded last year at a cost more than double the cost of earmarks in 2017 (one contributor to the federal budget surging 13.4% over 2017).  But CAGW doesn’t just rail against pork. Their 2018 Prime Cuts makes 636 recommendations across virtually every department and agency for cutting spending. Those cuts would save more than $3 trillion over five years.

Updating the late Sen. Everett Dirksen to account for inflation, a trillion here and a trillion there and pretty soon it adds up to real money.


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More shovel-ready spending

Posted by Richard on September 9, 2011

I got home just a bit ago from a wonderful Stock Show sponsors dinner, which beat the heck out of watching the President's jobs infomercial. On the way back, I heard the bottom-line on the radio: another $450 billion for all the stuff that he spent $800 billion on already — infrastructure, teachers, high-speed trains — only to enventually admit that "those shovel-ready jobs weren't so shovel-ready." But this time, it'll work. Really!

Vodkapundit's drunk-blogging of the event provided more detail, and certainly more entertainment than the actual speech. Obama promised that all those new shovels-full of spending would be paid for. Stephen summarized how: 

4:23PM It will be paid for by future, unspecified spending cuts, that the GOP congress will have to come up with.

4:24PM And it will be paid for by tax increases “on the wealthiest Americans.”

So he's going to create jobs with more of the same profligate spending that has utterly failed to create jobs, and he's going to pay for it by penalizing the people who could, if unshackled, really create jobs.

And those unspecified spending cuts that the House Republicans are expected to come up with? I'll bet dollars to doughnuts that, during the election campaign, the Dems will berate the Republicans endlessly over every dime of those spending cuts, trotting out the geezers eating dog food, the children with no shoes, the lepers who can't afford their medicine, etc., etc., etc. 

Aw, to hell with politics. There's a football game on. 

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GOP senators approve earmark ban

Posted by Richard on November 17, 2010

Senate Republicans adopted Sen. Jim DeMint's two-year moratorium on earmarks Tuesday, challenged Democrats to do likewise, and called on the President to veto any bill containing earmarks. Two Democratic senators, Colorado's Mark Udall and Missouri's Claire McCaskill, have called on their caucus to follow suit. 

When the people lead, their leaders will follow. 

UPDATE: Just spotted this, via Instapundit (and read his post for a reader's idea about verbing "Murkowski"): 

Even as Senate Republicans approved a "moratorium" on congressional earmarks, a small but significant contingent of the caucus is openly vowing to flout the new rules.

Led by Alaska Sen. Lisa Murkowski, the contingent is "going rogue" against the party's leader in the Senate, Mitch McConnell, who Monday made a high-profile switch to back the earmark ban.

Murkowski, who appears to have warded off a tea party-backed challenger in a run-off campaign, is leading the charge.

Tuesday, she offered a novel defense of seeking earmarks for her state, saying that Alaska, a “young” state admitted into the Union in 1959, hasn’t been able to enjoy earmarks for as long as the other states.

The vile Murkowski's defiance of the ban got support from Sens. Inhofe and Cochran, conditional support from Sens. Alexander and Graham, and the backing of lame-duck Sen. Bob Bennett, who thankfully was defeated in his primary and will be returning to civilian life none too soon. 

BTW, the Daily Caller's contention that Murkowski appears to have won re-election is still strongly disputed by her Republican opponent, Joe Miller. Read his response to the 5 myths going around about the state of the election, and if you can, donate a few bucks to help him with the legal and other expenses related to the continuing vote count.

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McConnell backs earmark moratorium

Posted by Richard on November 15, 2010

Sen. Mitch McConnell has felt the heat and seen the light:

If the voters express themselves clearly and unequivocally on an issue, it’s not enough to persist in doing the opposite on the grounds that “that’s the way we’ve always done it.” That’s what elections are all about, after all. And if this election has shown us anything, it’s that Americans know the difference between talking about change, and actually delivering on it.

I have thought about these things long and hard over the past few weeks. I’ve talked with my members. I’ve listened to them. Above all, I have listened to my constituents.  And what I’ve concluded is that on the issue of congressional earmarks, as the leader of my party in the Senate, I have to lead first by example. Nearly every day that the Senate’s been in session for the past two years, I have come down to this spot and said that Democrats are ignoring the wishes of the American people. When it comes to earmarks, I won’t be guilty of the same thing.

Make no mistake. I know the good that has come from the projects I have helped support throughout my state. I don’t apologize for them. But there is simply no doubt that the abuse of this practice has caused Americans to view it as a symbol of the waste and the out-of-control spending that every Republican in Washington is determined to fight. And unless people like me show the American people that we’re willing to follow through on small or even symbolic things, we risk losing them on our broader efforts to cut spending and rein in government.

That’s why today I am announcing that I will join the Republican Leadership in the House in support of a moratorium on earmarks in the 112th Congress.

That should put an end to the stealth pro-pork movement in the Senate GOP ranks. With McConnell backing the DeMint proposal, I expect many of the other squishy Republicans who haven't declared yet to fall in behind their leader. FreedomWorks hasn't updated their tracking tally on the issue yet. If your senator is in the Not on Record column, you may still want to call or email — politely! The vote is scheduled for Tuesday. 

UPDATE (11/16): Senate Republicans adopted a two-year moratorium on earmarks today , challenged Democrats to do likewise, and called on the President to veto any bill containing earmarks. Two Democratic senators, Colorado's Mark Udall and Missouri's Claire McCaskill, have called on their caucus to follow suit. 

When the people lead, their leaders will follow. 


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Support the earmark moratorium

Posted by Richard on November 13, 2010

*** UPDATE (11/15): Sen. McConnell has felt the heat and seen the light. ***

Next Tuesday, we'll find out how many Republican senators have learned the lesson of the last four years. That's when the GOP Conference votes on Sen. DeMint's earmark moratorium. House Republicans are solidly behind the pork moratorium. But in the Senate, minority leader Mitch McConnell seems to be quietly trying to line up opposition to DeMint's proposal. And he seems to have support from the usual suspects — Inhofe, Graham, Alexander, Shelby, and other members of the Republican wing of the Ruling Class.

On Wednesday in National Review's The Corner, Sen. Tom Coburn laid out the case against earmarks and demolished the specious arguments of the Ruling Class Republicans defending them. Here are some excerpts from his column (emphasis added): 

It’s true that earmarks themselves represent a tiny portion of the budget, but a small rudder can help steer a big ship, which is why I’ve long described earmarks as the gateway drug to spending addiction in Washington. No one can deny that earmarks like the Cornhusker Kickback have been used to push through extremely costly and onerous bills. Plus, senators know that as the number of earmarks has exploded so has overall spending. In the past decade, the size of government has doubled while Congress approved more than 90,000 earmarks.

Earmarks were rare until recently. In 1987, President Reagan vetoed a spending bill because it contained 121 earmarks. Eliminating earmarks will not balance the budget overnight, but it is an important step toward getting spending under control. 

… This is not a struggle between the executive branch and Congress but between the American people and Washington. … An earmark ban would tell the American people that Congress gets it. After all, it’s their money, not ours.

An earmark moratorium would not result in Congress giving up one iota of its spending power. In any event, Republicans should be fighting over how to cut government spending, not how to divide it up.

Our founders anticipated earmark-style power grabs from Congress and spoke against such excess for the ages. …

Thomas Jefferson, in a letter to James Madison, spoke directly against federally-funded local projects. “[I]t will be the source of eternal scramble among the members, who can get the most money wasted in their State; and they will always get the most who are the meanest.” Jefferson understood that earmarks and coercion would go hand in hand.

If any policy mandate can be derived from the election it is to spend less money. Eliminating earmarks is the first step on that path. The House GOP has accepted that mandate. The Senate GOP now has to decide whether to ignore not only the American people but their colleagues in the House. …

In recent years the conventional wisdom that earmarks create jobs has been turned on its head. The Obama administration’s stimulus bill itself, which is arguably a collection of earmarks approved by Congress, proves this point. Neither Obama’s stimulus nor Republican stimulus — GOP earmarks — is very effective at creating jobs.

Harvard University conducted an extensive study this year of how earmarks impact states. The researchers expected to find that earmarks drive economic growth but found the opposite.

“It was an enormous surprise, at least to us, to learn that the average firm in the chairman’s state did not benefit at all from the unanticipated increase in spending,” said Joshua Coval, one of the study’s authors. The study found that as earmarks increase capital investment and expenditures by private businesses decrease, by 15 percent specifically. In other words, federal pork crowds out private investment and slows job growth. Earmarks are an odd GOP infatuation with failed Keynesian economics that hurts local economies.

FreedomWorks' Now We Must Govern project is tracking where GOP senators and senators-elect stand on this issue. A link on that page takes you to their "Call Congress: Ban Earmarks!" action page. If one of your senators has not yet taken a stand on earmarks (most haven't; not even those secretly working against the DeMint proposal), please take a minute to call their office or send an email and politely demand that they honor the wishes of the American people and renounce pork. 

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High-priced jobs

Posted by Richard on September 20, 2010

The City of Los Angeles used its $111 million in ARRA "stimulus" money to "create or retain" 55 jobs. That's $2 million per job. They'd better get those printing presses cranked up in Washington, because at that rate they're going to need another several trillion dollars to "put America back to work."

I wonder how many jobs are created for every $111 million in private sector investment. 

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Tea party photo update

Posted by Richard on April 17, 2009

David Aitken took some terrific photos of the Denver Tea Party. He just has links at his blog, Life's Better Ideas, and I can see why. The photos are 2048 x 1536 pixels. On my 22" monitor (1680 x 1250), using Firefox, I had to zoom out to see the whole image at once. But he got right in the thick of things, they're sharp as a tack, and they really give you a great sense of being in the middle of the crowd. They're well worth a look. Just be patient if you don't have a very high-speed connection.

Michelle Malkin has a large collection of photos from around the country that shows, as she put it, "the full breadth and scope of the protests — not just the size, but the reach, a true sense of which is missing from the MSM coverage." And Instapundit posted several collections of pix, links to video, and commentary — here and here and here and here and here

As you look at the photos, and especially Aitken's photos, notice that virtually every sign is handmade. The few printed ones look like people printed them on their inkjet — they probably downloaded the files from one of the think tanks or pro-freedom non-profits that jumped onto the tea party bandwagon. Contrary to what Nancy Pelosi and her PR firm, CNN, claimed, this wasn't an "astroturf" event — it was true grass roots, and it grew from the ground up. The national organizations and (relatively few) politicians who jumped aboard were following the people, not leading them. 

At the Denver event, the only signs that were obviously professionally printed were the ones a handful of ProgressColorado and union counter-demonstrators had (with slogans like "Shut up and pay your taxes" and "We're cleaning up Bush's mess"). The printing was probably paid for by ACORN, using federal tax dollars. Or George Soros, the king of astroturf politics. Or the cadre of Colorado millionaire leftists who've bought the state for the Democratic Party in the last few years.

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A terrific tea party

Posted by Richard on April 16, 2009

What a great day we had in Denver today. Sunny and in the 70s. A perfect day to gather at the State Capitol and voice opposition to tax increases, massive new spending, wealth redistribution, bailouts, pork, and the headlong rush toward socialism. And, boy, did people gather!

The police estimated 5000, and I think that's pretty conservative. I remember the gun rights rally that the police estimated at 3000, and this one was at least twice as big and probably quite a bit more. Quite a diverse crowd, too. Lots of families with children, and lots of strollers. More young adults than I expected, but lots of retirees, too. Men in suits, and men in biker jackets. Mostly middle-class working people.

I heard virtually nothing of the speakers, and I think most of the people there were in the same boat. The crowd spilled down the steps and grassy slope all the way to Lincoln St., and the sound system was really only adequate for the two to three thousand up on the drive around the Capitol and maybe a little beyond. But no one seemed to mind, and when those who were close cheered and chanted, everyone else joined in. 

On Lincoln St. and Colfax, where traffic was heavy, the honking and waving never let up. I noticed that quite a few of the vehicles expressing support were work vehicles (panel vans and trucks with business names on them, etc.). 

There were lots of Gadsden flags (I wore my Gadsden t-shirt) and lots of signs with references to Galt and Atlas Shrugged. Some of my favorite signs: 

I am not your ATM

Don't spread the wealth, spread my work ethic!

Atlas Shrugged has come to pass

I left a socialist country for this??

Don't spend my money, I haven't made it yet (carried by a 10-year-old)

We are John Galt

Don't tell Obama what comes after a trillion

I was running late and forgot my camera, so all I got was some crummy shots from my ancient cell phone. You can see them here. But the Peoples Press Collective has much better pictures here and here. Heck, just go to the home page and keep scrolling. Drop by Slapstick Politics, too, for lots of coverage — pix, video, and links. 

If you attended a tea party somewhere, how did it go?

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Tea Party time!

Posted by Richard on April 15, 2009

Tomorrow, April 15, is Tax Day, but this year it's something more — Tea Party Day! The Tea Party movement was inspired by CNBC's Rick Santelli, who back in February delivered a terrific rant against bailouts, stimulus packages, pork, and taxing responsible, hard-working people to subsidize bad behavior. Santelli said it was time for another Tea Party, and he inspired thousands.

There have been many tea party events since, but nothing like what's scheduled for April 15. Over 600 Tea Party rallies all across the country are confirmed for tomorrow. I'm going to the one at the State Capitol in Denver (11:00 – 1:30).

Other Colorado rallies are scheduled in Craig, Delta, Durango, Fort Collins, Grand Junction, Loveland, Montrose, Pueblo, Steamboat Springs, Walsenburg, and Woodland Park.

I hope you'll go to a rally near you (go here and click your state to find the closest one). Many are scheduled around noon, so take a long lunch and bring your sandwich. And maybe a sign or an American flag.

If you can't make it (or even if you can), sign the Stop Spending Our Future petition. And if you've got a few bucks to spare, join the Go Galt movement — buy some copies of Atlas Shrugged and send them to politicians. 

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Faux outrage, part 2

Posted by Richard on March 19, 2009

The evidence of what I referred to as hokum and hypocrisy regarding bailouts and bonuses is piling up, and Investor's Business Daily has again focused attention on some of the worst. For example, Rep. Barney Frank's grilling at a committee hearing of the new AIG CEO, Edward Liddy (emphasis added):

Liddy, brought in for a dollar a year after the market meltdown Frank had a hand in creating, wasn't the one who should have been in the dock. Frank should have been grilling his Senate colleague Chris Dodd, who now admits writing the language in the stimulus that made these bonuses exempt from any government restrictions.

Sitting next to Dodd should have been Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner, late of the Federal Reserve in New York and the architect of the original AIG bailout. After saying he didn't know who wrote the stimulus language exempting AIG bonuses, he now says he did it at the request of Treasury and administration officials.

[After first denying it, Dodd] told a different story, acknowledging that he and his staff did in fact change the language in the stimulus bill to include a loophole for AIG executive bonuses. "As many know, the administration was, among others, not happy with the language. They wanted some modifications in it.

"They came to us, our staff, and asked for changes, and the changes at the time did not seem obnoxious or onerous," Dodd added.

Say what? Exempting AIG bonuses to be paid out with taxpayer dollars seemed harmless to the No. 1 recipient of AIG campaign cash? Some have called this a "reversal" of position. We call it a lie admitted to.

Now we learn that Fannie Mae, a bailout beneficiary and the ignition source of the mortgage meltdown, plans to pay its own retention bonuses of at least $1 million to four executives as part of a plan to keep hundreds of employees from leaving. Let them work for a buck too.

Just as was the case with Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, Congress and the administration had a chance to stop this. Instead they protected AIG with a bill written in the middle of the night, sliced and diced by a handful of Democrats in a closed conference room, that those voting on it had not read.

Frank et al. have forgotten how Franklin Raines, who headed Fannie from 1998 to 2004, the years of its worst excesses, pocketed nearly $100 million in pay and bonuses from Fannie. He later became an adviser to Obama, the No. 2 recipient of AIG campaign funds behind Dodd.

This is the administration and Congress that promised to be the most transparent ever. They're transparent all right. We can see right through them.


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Faux outrage

Posted by Richard on March 19, 2009

The posturing, demagoguery, and expressions of outrage about the AIG bonuses continue unabated. Where was all this concern over self-serving and wasteful expenditure of tax dollars when Congress passed and the President signed the $410 billion omnibus spending bill containing over 8000 earmarks?

The President claimed even back during the campaign that he opposed earmarks, but he signed the bill anyway, promising earmark reform in the future. The administration argued that this bill was "inherited" from the previous administration, so why bother to try to clean it up? 

Well, the AIG bailout and AIG bonus agreements are "leftovers" from last year, too. The bonuses amount to less than 0.1% of AIG's bailout money, far less than the earmarks in the omnibus bill. Why so much concern over the former and so little over the latter? 

It's all hokum for the rubes and sheer hypocrisy. Investor's Business Daily outlined the true story behind the AIG bonuses, namely that the Obama Adminstration approved them and Congress authorized them: 

"In the last six months AIG has received substantial sums from the U.S. Treasury," Obama said after allegedly hearing about it for the first time. "How do they justify this outrage to the taxpayers who are keeping the company afloat?"

Well, they justify it by saying they had the administration's permission. The New York Times reports that AIG executives said they never would have proceeded with the bonus payments before getting approval from the Treasury and the Federal Reserve.

"We would never make any important business decisions without discussing them with our government managers and owners," one AIG executive is quoted as saying.

As Larry Kudlow notes in his column on the next page, "the Obama administration — including the president, Treasury man Tim Geithner and economic adviser Larry Summers — knew all about them many months ago. They were undoubtedly informed of this during the White House transition."

The fact is, these bonuses were made legal by the $787 billion stimulus bill that President Obama promoted and signed. A provision, now known as the "Dodd Amendment," was inserted into the bill by the chairman of the Senate Banking Committee, Chris Dodd, D-Conn. It exempts from any restrictions bonuses contractually obligated before Feb. 11 of this year.

Coincidentally, Sen. Dodd was AIG's largest single recipient of campaign donations during the 2008 election cycle with $103,000, according to Also coincidentally, one of the largest offices of AIG Financial Products, the division that concocted the goofy financial instruments that doomed AIG, is situated in Connecticut.

The second-largest AIG recipient, at $101,232, was the "choked up with anger" President Obama. If AIG gives back the bonuses, will the president give back these and other campaign contributions from troubled institutions?

Don't hold your breath, folks. The Democrats' dirty little secret is that most of the overpaid big shots who ran various insurance, banking, mortgage, and financial institutions into the ground are liberal Democrats and among the party's most generous contributors.

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Tea Party phenomenon taking off

Posted by Richard on February 23, 2009

My market research indicates that somewhere between 9 and 23 people reading this post will not have already read Instapundit. Since I think this is very, very important, I'm urging all 9 to 23 of you to go read this.

Yes, it's anecdotal evidence. But it suggests that significant numbers of people in a precinct that voted 254-37 for Obama — including state workers, college professors, and other reliably liberal types — think the stimulus bill and mortgage bailout are "crap." Various news reports and other anecdotes suggest this sentiment is remarkably widespread, and that it crosses party and ideological lines.

This cheers me greatly. Maybe the socialists salivating over the prospect of "remaking" this country, of moving toward the Marxist dictum "From each according to his ability, to each according to his need," have misjudged the American people's commitment to freedom, personal responsibility, and good old-fashioned fair play. I certainly hope so. 

President Obama may be a hard-left ideologue (his history, friendships, and associations certainly suggest so), but I suspect he's also, like all Chicago pols, more interested in political power than anything else. So he may back away quickly from the extreme leftward shift he'd planned if it looks like a big loser in the court of public opinion. 

You can help make that happen. Check out the American Tea Party site and the schedule of upcoming American Tea Party protests. If you're near Washington, DC, Chicago, Kansas City, or Vancouver, WA, plan to attend the event scheduled for your area. If you're near Atlanta, Omaha, San Diego, Fayetteville, Dallas, or Los Angeles, keep checking back for details regarding your local event.

If you're somewhere else, how about helping to organize an American Tea Party event in your area? Get in touch with the local taxpayer organizations and Americans for Prosperity. There's a nice 10-step recipe for organizing your own event here. And some very good suggestions from a media-savvy Instapundit reader here.

We can really make a difference, folks, but we have to act now. If you're not the event-organizing type, talk to friends and neighbors, write a letter to the editor, encourage event-organizing types you know — whatever you can do.

We're at a critical juncture in our nation's history, a pivotal time when seemingly small actions by ordinary people can nudge us in one direction or another. Make sure that a few years from now, you're not regretting your failure to get involved. 

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Pork for the people

Posted by Richard on February 18, 2009

The turnout was surprisingly good for the Americans for Prosperity stimulus protest today at the State Capitol — about 500 people showed up. The rally coincided with President Obama's signing of the "porkulus" bill at the Denver Museum of Nature and Science.

Considering that the rally was only announced yesterday, that it was in the middle of a work day, and that most of us anti-big-government types actually have jobs we can't skip out on, that's a pretty impressive turnout. 

And what's a noon-time rally without food, right? Well, the organizers served lunch, too (emphasis added): 

Organizers said there is too much pork in the bill signed by President Barack Obama. So they carved up a roasted pig and made sandwiches just as the president was getting ready to sign the bill. A live pig was also present before the podium as protesters spoke.

Jocelyn Armstrong of Parker carried a gigantic check for $30,000, which she said represented the cost of the stimulus to each American family. Her 8-year-old daughter Hannah signed the check because Armstrong said she would have to pay for it.

"In my opinion, Obama, Pelosi and Reed are the Bernie Madoff Democrats who want to take our money and use it for their purposes and we're here to say, 'No more,'" Jim Pfaff with Americans for Prosperity told the crowd.  

I'm sorry I couldn't attend (it's a 30-mile round trip, and I couldn't fit it in between meetings). It sounds like they had a better lunch than I did!

UPDATE: El Marco has some nice pix of the rally. (HT: LGF)

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Ron Paul endorsed porkmeister Young

Posted by Richard on August 26, 2008

Ron Paul turned me off some time ago, but it wasn't because of economic or fiscal issues. On those, I thought he was solid. So I'm more than a little surprised and quite disappointed that he's pimping votes for one of the GOP's sleaziest congresscritters:

Former Republican presidential contender Ron Paul has endorsed Don Young in his bid to win an 18th term in the U.S. House of Representatives.

Paul, the 72-year-old congressman from Texas whose maverick presidential bid drew wide support in Alaska, sent out a letter to his supporters here urging them to vote for Young.

“Don and I have served together in Congress for many years, and I consider him a friend,” Paul wrote in the letter. “Don has been an outspoken voice against environmental extremists over the years and has strongly opposed the types of federal regulatory overreach advocated in the name of environmentalism.”

What about Young's federal spending overreach, Ron? What about his earmark overreach? What about his support for a gas tax increase? What about his pork projects that benefit campaign contributors in another state? Are you endorsing those, too? Can you tell us what portion of the Constitution authorizes the building of bridges to nowhere, Dr. No?

As I noted last week, I've contributed to Young's primary opponent, Sean Parnell. I think I'll make another contribution to him in "honor" of Ron Paul's endorsement of Young. Please join me in contributing to Sean Parnell's campaign today. You can do so at his website, or better yet, join the Club for Growth and contribute through them.

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Boxer tries to stop Coburn from delivering babies for free

Posted by Richard on August 19, 2008

Sen. Tom Coburn (R-OK) has long been a taxpayer hero and a thorn in the side of the porkmeisters and spendthrifts. Along with Sens. Jim DeMint (R-SC) and Richard Burr (R-NC), he received a 100% score on the Club for Growth's 2007 Senate RePORK Card, voting for 15 of 15 anti-pork amendments.

In fact, Coburn introduced many of these amendments. And he's a non-partisan enemy of earmarks, corrupt backscratching, and profligate spending — when Republicans controlled the Senate, he fought against his own party leadership just as hard. It was Coburn who tried to block Sen. Ted Stevens' (R-AK, Indicted) infamous "Bridge to Nowhere," prompting Stevens to threaten to resign if Coburn's amendment passed. Now that he's been indicted, maybe some of the Republicans who helped defeat the amendment wish they'd taken Stevens up on his offer.

So why is Sen. Barbara Boxer's Ethics Committee going after Coburn? Because the senator, an obstetrician who prefers to be called "Dr. Coburn," is supposedly guilty of an ethics violation for delivering the babies of poor and at-risk Oklahoma women — for free. 

Coburn used to charge just enough to cover his costs, something he'd been doing since serving in the House with its Ethics Committee's blessing. That wasn't good enough for the Senate Ethics Committee, which has taken time out from investigating sweetheart loans for senators to go after Coburn. Debra Saunders thinks she knows why:

The Senate Ethics Committee allows big-buck book deals for U.S. senators, but in a May memorandum, it told Coburn, "you are allowed to practice medicine if you provide such services for free." So he started working for nothing.

Even free wasn't good enough. After the Muskogee Regional Medical Center, where he practices, was taken over by a for-profit operation, the committee told Coburn to cease "providing any and all medical services" by June 22, pursuant to Senate Rule 37 on conflicts of interest. Coburn could practice medicine only as a solo practitioner, for a private entity that provides services for free, or for a government or tribal health facility.

What's really going on here? The senator — who prefers to be called Dr. Coburn — has been a thorn in the side of both big-spending Republicans and Democrats. He calls earmarks "the gateway drug" to Washington's spending addiction. …

The savvy observer has to conclude that because Coburn has challenged Senate pork, the Ethics Committee essentially is willing to stick it to poor pregnant women, who might benefit from a free delivery.

It's a tactical blunder. If the committee continues to push for a public reprimand, Coburn has the right to ask for a full Senate vote. While Boxer may not mind coming across as petty and vindictive, other senators might hesitate before publicly bullying a man for delivering babies for free.

As Coburn spokesman John Hart noted, there have been many stories about lawmakers, their friends and families profiting from earmarks, but "no one has ever chosen to have Dr. Coburn deliver her baby in order to sway his vote."

Regardless of what you think of his politics (and I love his fiscal conservatism, but am put off by his social conservatism), Sen. Coburn is clearly one of the cleanest members of Congress. For the Senate Ethics Committee to divert its attention from the many members larding up bills with earmarks, doing favors for campaign contributers, getting below-market loans, etc., etc., in order to go after Dr. Coburn for delivering babies for free — well, it's an outrage. 

If you're represented by a member of the Senate Ethics Committee, please let them know what you think of this clearly vindictive and outrageous harrassment of Sen. (Dr.) Coburn. The committee members are Sens. Boxer (D-CA), Pryor (D-AK), Salazar (D-CO), Cornyn (R-TX), Roberts (R-KS), and Isakson (R-GA).

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