Monday, March 9, 2009

Earmarks ...

(Stays on top today - G)

Or 'pork', if you will. Being this is what I heard the Rethugs going on about this weekend, I figured I'd say a few words.

Aside from the hypocrisy, which quite a few talking heads had no other choice but to take note of (40% of the earmarks in the spending bill are Republican), earmarks can be stimulating for the economy. "Bridges to Nowhere" notwithstanding, earmarks can be used quite effectively to bring stimulus to targeted areas of the country.

The problem is they're not subject to review. The challenge, it would seem to me, would be to determine which 'pork' would be beneficial to the most people. For example, an infrastructure project such as a light rail line from the suburbs to a city, or a high speed rail line connecting major cities (such as the Paris - Brussels Directe in Europe).

The idea, though how feasible it would be is another story, is to have an 'acceptance criteria' they would have to live up to before being included in a bill. A set of guidelines stating a minimum population size the earmark would benefit (ex: an earmark would have to be beneficial to 100K people or more) and a cost cap. Things like 'pig odor studies' and 'Hawai'i travel and tourism' should be undertaken by the various industries who'd benefit. I've driven past hog farms in the summer and yes, there's an odor problem, big time (wouldn't wanna live near one). Thing is, the industry should be forking over the money to reduce the problem under threat of fine from the EPA, not expecting the taxpayer to clean up their mess that they've been making a profit from all these years. Same with the Polynesian tourist industry.

Unfortunately, with the state of the Republican Party today, any type of oversight or regulation is a bad thing. Yes, they'll yell and scream, but far be it for them to set an example by not inserting earmarks into the bill. Maybe, if they started practicing what they preach, the general public might take them seriously again. Adding $3bln to the spending bill and then blaming President Obama for not vetoing the thing is laughable; just another example of Republican hypocrisy in lieu of offering any decent suggestions about how we might overcome the problem of wasteful spending.

Pointing fingers doesn't solve problems, definitive action does. Pointing fingers without advancing a reasonable compromise (as opposed to pushing the failed policies that got us into this mess) is not the way things get done. Since President Obama took office, they've done nothing but bitch and moan but have come up with nothing new. If it didn't slow down the process so much, I wouldn't care because they're relegating themselves to superficiality (the national polls are proving that), but people are hurting and need help now. Obstruction is only putting more people over the edge.

The Party of Limbaugh is well on its way to becoming irrelevant and if they keep it up they'll be condemning themselves to obscurity. I won't stop them but it would be nice if they didn't drag the rest of us down with them.

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