Ideological Barriers to Change
As Americans cope with immense fiscal challenges, Congressional spending continues to spiral out of control. Living out Rahm Emanuel's tweaked philosophy of never allowing “a serious crisis to go to waste,” Democrats are spending at an enigmatic rate – and some Republicans are following suite.
According to The Wall Street Journal, back in Nov. 2008 Emanuel told a group of corporate chief executives the following:“Things that we had postponed for too long, that were long-term, are now immediate and must be dealt with. This crisis provides the opportunity for us to do things that you could not do before.”
These are not the words of a fiscally-conscious lawmaker. “Things” that could not be done before – like what? And if “things” could not be afforded before, how would the nation, in the midst of a financial melt-down, suddenly have the resources to finance said “things?”
Clearly, Emanuel is speaking about ideological policy here, not systematic reform. This is not the time to sacrifice the future by printing money for the purposes of furthering the Democratic perspective. The most recent bailout and the subsequent spending bill that has already cleared the Senate are so poorly comprised and so detrimental that they can only result from such an ill-focused outlook.
And perhaps most preposterous was Emanuel's assertion that the current climate will foster the hopenchange, bi-partisan rhetoric that Obama thrived on during the campaign: “The good news, I suppose, if you want to see a silver lining, is that the problems are big enough that they lend themselves to ideas from both parties for the solution.”
Good news? Silver lining? Despite such talk of bipartisanship, Washington is more divided than its been in decades, as the most recent stimulus had not one of the House's 178 members voting in its favor. As Republicans and a small group of Democrats rally to control spending and vote down abuses, their colleagues have chosen to continue wasting tax-payer dollars, while abusing the powers that have been bestowed upon them by the American people.
Recent Fiscal Abuses
While most Americans are facing unemployment prospects and struggling to meet their most basic needs, out-of-touch Congressional members have slipped thousands of irrelevant pet projects into the latest spending bill that President Obama promises to sign.
Back in Sep. 2008, Obama said, “...when I'm president, I will go line by line to make sure that we are not spending money unwisely” – a promise he has already broken. One cannot help but wonder what happened to Obama's campaign pledge to take “a scalpel” to bills that contain pork-barrel spending. Instead, massive spending and fiscal deviance have dominated.
At this rate, it's becoming difficult to follow just how much money Congress has spent. First, there was the stimulus passed by Bush and the Democratic Congress at the end of 2008 (over $700 billion). Then came Obama's $787 billion stimulus package – cleverly entitled “The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.” Now, Congress is slated to pass a $410 billion omnibus spending bill. The bill, intended to fund the government through the end of the fiscal year, is wrought with pork.
According to Taxpayers for Common Sense, it contains 8,570 earmarks, totaling $7.7 billion. A mere glimpse at the projects that have been inserted showcases a lack of Congressional responsibility and moral fabric. In this case, both parties are to blame. While Democrats have been leading the charge to irresponsible spending, Republicans who have earmarks in the bill are jumping on board in hopes that their projects will be funded.
The irresponsibility is paramount. At a time when Americans are hurting, Rep. Jerrold Nadler has earmarked $381,000 for Jazz at Lincoln Center, with Sen. Lindsay Graham is attempting to filter $950,000 to the Myrtle Beach International Trade and Convention Center. Additionally, $800,000 was earmarked for the purposes of “oyster rehabilitation” – whatever that means. And these are only a few examples (remember, there are nearly 9,000 to choose from). Clearly, these pork-laced projects have little to do with helping the American government meet its operating costs and everything to do with unpatriotic, self-interest.
Now, more than ever, America's lawmakers need to cut unnecessary costs. As President Obama asks Americans to use less electricity, to trust his administration and to have faith in the system, he must also ask Congress – and his inner conscious – to make similar concessions. Our nation is deep in debt and the longer the people stand idle, the more tattered the country's future will be. Now is the time for rhetoric-free, action-based fiscal conservation.