Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Omnibus? Omnibust!

At the last possible moment, a piece of legislation has been dumped on the desks of Senators to keep the government trudging along through the end of 2011. A one trillion dollar stack of papers is to be read and digested before the vote scheduled for Monday. It is a 1924-page omnibus spending bill with $8 billion in earmarks.

Yes, billions in earmarks as though the message of the voters in November was never received on Capitol Hill. Both parties have oodles of goodies in this travesty. Here is a list:

Cochran (R-MS) 230
Wicker (R-MS) 199
Murray (D-WA) 172
Harkin (D-IA) 152
Reid (D-NV) 129
Menendez (D-NJ) 123
Feinstein (D-CA) 121
Lautenberg (D-NJ) 120
Lincoln (D-AR) 114
Inouye (D-HI) 113
Schumer (D-NY) 106
Johnson (D-SD) 105
Landrieu (D-LA) 104
Specter (D-PA) 103
Pryor (D-AR) 96
Levin (D-MI) 93
Stabenow (D-MI) 91
Boxer (D-CA) 90
Brown (D-OH) 87
Grassley (R-IA) 86
Bingaman (D-NM) 86
Durbin (D-IL) 86
Akaka (D-HI) 83
Wyden (D-OR) 83
Cardin (D-MD) 79
Merkley (D-OR) 79
Gillibrand (D-NY) 79
Bond (R-MO) 78
Bennett (R-UT) 76
Casey (D-PA) 76
Udall (D-NM) 73
Reed (D-RI) 70
Kerry (D-MA) 69
Cantwell (D-WA) 69
Hagan (D-NC) 69
Voinovich (R-OH) 68
Klobuchar (D-MN) 68
Rockefeller (D-WV) 67
Dodd (D-CT) 66
Mikulski (D-MD) 65
Tester (D-MT) 65
Lieberman (ID-CT) 64
Hutchison (R-TX) 63
Burr (R-NC) 63
Baucus (D-MT) 62
Dorgan (D-ND) 60
Warner (D-VA) 60
Webb (D-VA) 58
Franken (D-MN) 58
Collins (R-ME) 57
Leahy (D-VT) 56
Murkowski (R-AK) 55
Whitehouse (D-RI) 55
Kohl (D-WI) 54
Conrad (D-ND) 52
Vitter (R-LA) 48
Cornyn (R-TX) 45
Snowe (R-ME) 44
Nelson (D-FL) 43
Chambliss (R-GA) 42
Crapo (R-ID) 41
Risch (R-ID) 41
Bennet (D-CO) 40
Brownback (R-KS) 39
Carper (D-DE) 39
Begich (D-AK) 37
McConnell (R-KY) 35
Roberts (R-KS) 35
Sanders (I-VT) 33
Shelby (R-AL) 32
Inhofe (R-OK) 32
Shaheen (D-NH) 32
Alexander (R-TN) 30
Udall (D-CO) 30
Lugar (R-IN) 29
Graham (R-SC) 27
Thune (R-SD) 26
Isakson (R-GA) 24
Nelson (D-NE) 23
Sessions (R-AL) 21
Bunning (R-KY) 21
Ensign (R-NV) 20
Gregg (R-NH) 13
Barrasso (R-WY) 4
Enzi (R-WY) 3
Hatch (R-UT) 1
Bayh (D-IN) 1
Corker (R-TN) 1
Brown (R-MA) 1
McCain (R-AZ) 0
Feingold (D-WI) 0
Kyl (R-AZ) 0
DeMint (R-SC) 0
Coburn (R-OK) 0
McCaskill (D-MO) 0
Johanns (R-NE) 0
LeMieux (R-FL) 0
Manchin (D-WV) 0
Coons (D-DE) 0
Kirk (R-IL) 0

When you take a long look at those earmark numbers, you can see that more Democrats are up on the high end in terms of earmarks, with a lot more Republicans down here on the low end of the scale.

Sen. John McCain and Rep. Jeff Flake and, two Arizona Republicans who long have crusaded against earmarks, blasted the nearly 2,000-page omnibus bill, saying it ignores the will of voters who made clear last month Congress needs to rein in government spending and debt.

The American people “are tired of wasteful spending. They are tired of big government. They are tired of sweetheart deals for special interests. They are tired of business as usual in Washington,” McCain said on the Senate floor.

“And they are tired of massive bills – just like this one - put together behind closed doors, and rammed through the Congress at the last moment so that no one has the opportunity to read them and no one really knows what kind of waste is in them.”

Added Flake: “This omnibus was written as if the election in November never happened. Voters explicitly rejected runaway spending. Congress clearly didn’t get the message. If President Obama did, he will veto this bill.”

The thought of Obama using the veto pen on a massive and wasteful spending bill is amusing, though. He is the King of wasteful spending and bloated government red ink.

Our federal deficit is unsustainable and the warning bells have been ringing for some time now. While President Obama is fond of complaining that the GOP offers no alternatives to his continued out of control spending solutions to our struggling economy, one Congressman has been consistently doing just that. Rep Paul Ryan has been presenting solutions on his own website and on others. He even suggested some ideas to Obama in person during the well publicized photo op of a summit for both party's leaders some months ago. Obama batted them away but not before the point was made that Rep Ryan is a force to be reckoned with in economics. Obama is no match.

This unbelievably bad pending omnibus is a clear example of the question at hand: do we want to be a nation encouraging dependence on big government and its programs at the expense of personal freedom and responsibility? Do we want an economic environment that encourages business growth - that of small business creation and large business productiveness - or the extinguishing of ambition? Do we continue to grow as the economic steam engine of the world or do we accept a lesser status?

Rep Paul Ryan produced an op-ed outlining his approach to the deficit and our way forward as a country recently.

The deficit debate is not merely an exercise in arithmetic; it is also a conversation about the role and purpose of government. Do we wish to accept a cradle-to-grave welfare state, in which more Americans depend on the government than on themselves, or do we want to promote an opportunity society that promotes human flourishing, connecting effort with reward?

The former is where we're headed if we remain on our unsustainable course. The latter will require a restoration of the foundations for growth: low tax rates, spending restraint, reasonable regulations and sound money. Will we be mature enough to start laying those foundations now, before it's too late? Recent events leave me hopeful - but it will require committed leadership to seize this opportunity and meet our most pressing challenges.

The plan put forward by Ryan was published before Tuesday, when the omnibus was dumped by Senate Democrats laden with wasteful spending which no doubt dashes his optimism about the immediate future.

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