A Theft/Pork Must-Read

This is completely unsurprising, but no less despicable for its predictability.  Read the whole thing:

Fresh from the Republicans on the appropriations committee come two documents. First, a summary of the “air-drops, add-ons and alterations” to the bill in conference:

NEWS
House Appropriations Committee, Republicans

Ranking Member Jerry Lewis 
Website address: http://republicans.appropriations.house.gov

February 12, 2009

Stimulus Conference Report – Air-drops, Adds, and Alterations

No one save for a few Democrat leaders and staff has seen the full text of the stimulus legislation, and reports indicate that some of it is still being written. At some point, Members of Congress will be asked to vote on this legislation with very little time to view or research its contents – likely less than an hour or two. 

The little information gleaned from the Majority regarding this conference report has uncovered several controversial provisions tucked into the language that differ from either the House or Senate bills. These items contain egregious non-stimulative spending, represent massive policy shifts, or have been “air-dropped” (added in secret conference negotiations without being included in either the House or Senate bill). 

As the full text of the legislation is not yet available, this is not a comprehensive list. 

“Air-Dropped” Provisions

Amtrak Security – The conference report contains $450 million for Amtrak Security grants through the Department of Transportation (DOT). This funding was not included in either the House or Senate bills, and duplicates a program that already exists in the Department of Homeland Security. 

Agency “Slush Funds” (Transfer Authority) – This provision recreates the “slush fund” that was unanimously rejected by both the House and Senate.  This “slush fund” allows agency heads to move money around between programs as they see fit without any real oversight by Congress or the public.

Spending Adds and Changes

High Speed Rail – The conference report contains $8 billion for high speed rail. The Senate included $2 billion for this programs and House did not include anything. The spending will go to at least two rail projects – one from LA to Las Vegas, and one in the mid-west including Wisconsin and Illinois. 

Military Construction/Veterans Funding – The conference report cuts Veterans and Military Construction spending by over $3 billion below the House and Senate bills. The cuts include construction projects, hospital renovations, facility repairs, and energy-efficiency improvements. 

NEA – The conference report contains $50 million for the NEA. Somehow, despite the public criticism, Democrat leaders have decided that this is “stimulative” spending and have included it in the report. 

Policy Shifts and Alterations

 
E-Verify –Language to reauthorize the E-Verify program and ensure that stimulus funds benefit legal American workers was unanimously adopted in the Appropriations Committee and agreed to on the House Floor. This language was completely removed from the conference report. 

Comparative Effectiveness – This pre-curser to universal health care was included in the conference report to the tune of $1.1 billion. This program compares various medical treatments to determine which are most cost-effective, in order for the government to save money in the future by rationing care in a government-run healthcare system. 

National Surface Transportation System Grants – The report includes $1.5 billion for a brand new program within DOT to be distributed to selected states at the agency's discretion. However, the existing highway formula program which serves all 50 states can more effectively and efficiently distribute stimulus funds. 

“Timely Awards of Grants” – Despite previous Democrat rhetoric that this unprecedented “stimulus” spending would be spent quickly, the conference agreement drops provisions requiring all funds in the bill to be awarded within 30 to 120 days of enactment. Instead, the report allows numerous programs to have three years or more to actually begin spending the funding.  

And after the jump, a summary of the conference report on the bill:

NEWS
House Appropriations Committee, Republicans

Ranking Member Jerry Lewis 
Website address: http://republicans.appropriations.house.gov

February 12, 2009

Stimulus Conference Report Summary

The following is a summary of the conference report on the Stimulus bill. While every item included in the bill should be considered on its own merit, most of the spending would not provide the kind of job creation or other benefits needed to sustain our economy through these tough times, and would fund programs that will have no immediate or short term relief to struggling American families. Unfortunately for the American taxpayer, the vast majority of this spending is not for economic recovery, would further bloat federal programs, would expand the role of government in Americans' lives, and is designed to provide Democrats political cover by funding campaign promises. 

Total Estimated Spending in the Stimulus Conference Report:  $791 billion

    * Appropriations:  $312 billion
    * Entitlements: $181 billion
    * Tax relief: $298 billion

Estimated Spending by Subcommittee:

Agriculture: $26.562 billion

Commerce: Justice – Science: $15.922 billion

Defense: $4.555 billion

Energy and Water: $50.825 billion

Financial Services: $6.908 billion

Homeland Security: $2.755 billion

Interior: $10.925 billion

Labor – HHS: $126.362 billion

Legislative Branch: $.025 billion

Military Construction/Veterans: $4.281 billion

State – Foreign Operations: $.602 billion

Transportation – HUD: $61.805 billion
 

Appropriations Summary:

($ in millions)

      Category     Conference

      Amount
      New Programs

          $ 97,418
      Program Expansions     92,607
      One-time Increase to Existing Programs     121,502
      Total     $ 311,527

Permanently growing the size of the Federal Government:  

A total of 104 Federal government programs are being created or expanded, meaning the taxpayers will bear the long-term costs of this permanent government expansion.  This includes the creation of 31 new programs and the permanent expansion of 73 existing programs.  The total cost of this growth of government is $190.025 billion, which is 61% of the total appropriations spending.  If this new level of spending is carried forward into future years, federal non-defense discretionary budgets will have to increase by at least 42% annually.

   New programs in the bill:

          o There are 31 new programs totaling $97 billion (31% of all appropriations) in the bill.
          o The vast majority of these new programs fall under the Labor-HHS Subcommittee.  This bill creates 11 new Labor-HHS programs, totaling $60 billion.


   Program expansions in the bill:

          o The conference agreement expands 73 existing programs (normally funded in regular Appropriations bills) at a cost of $92 billion in FY09.
          o There will be tremendous pressure to fund many – if not most – of these programs at this new, higher level in future years, especially given that much of this money will have to be spent getting these programs up and running and properly staffed.
          o The Labor-HHS bill accounts for 28 of the 73 program expansions and $59 billion of the FY09 growth.


Temporary, short-term infusions to stimulate the economy:

    * The bill includes only $122 billion, 0r 39% of the total, for one-time infusions of money in 98 federal programs to stimulate the economy.


    * This category includes funding for transportation programs (highways, bridges, rail and transit systems) as well as Corps of Engineers and Bureau of Reclamation projects. In fact, only 17% of the discretionary spending in this package is for these infrastructure items.


Once upon a time, there used to be a thing called honor, even in Washington.  There is so much wrong with just the process of this monstrosity — never mind the content itself — that one would think even Democrats would stand up against this thing.  Almost everything those Democrat leaders have done on this is hideously unethical, if not outright illegal.  You can't just add stuff into a bill that neither house of Congress has addressed!  You can't physically prevent one half of the conference committee from attending the final conference!  You can't possibly expect anyone to read, analyze, and debate a 1,400+ page bill in a day or two!

This is beyond the pale, and totally inexcusable.  Where are the good Democrats of this country, holding their elected leaders accountable for these actions?  Where is the anger at the blatant disregard for half the country?  I used to think this picture applied only to those elected leaders in the party, but now I'm beginning to wonder if the same set of standards extends down much, much further…



If so, it's sad, frustrating, and dangerous to this country.

There's my two cents.

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About

I'm a gun-owning, Bible-thumping, bitter clinger conservative in the heartland. You can disagree with me if you want (you do, after all, have a right to be wrong)...just don't be rude or stupid and we'll get along just fine! :)

Posted in Economy, Liberal Hypocrisy

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