Meet the new boss…

…same as the old boss, as the lyrics go. I give you President Obama, speaking to a VFW Post in Phoenix:

“If a project doesn’t support our troops, we will not fund it,” he said to a meeting of the Veterans of Foreign Wars in Phoenix. “If a system doesn’t perform, we will terminate it. And if Congress sends me a defense bill loaded with that kind of pork, I will veto it. “

That’s from this Fox News report on the pork in the defense appropriations bill signed by the President last week. How much pork? There are 1720 earmarks in that bill reportedly totaling $4.2 billion. Listed highlights:

∙$5 million for a visitors center in San Francisco
∙$23 million for indigent health care in Hawaii
∙$18 million for the Edward Kennedy Policy Institute in Massachusetts
∙$1.6 million to computerize hospital records in Oakland
∙$47 million for anti-drug training centers around the country
∙$20 million for the World War II Museum in Louisiana
∙$3.9 million grant to develop an energy-efficient solar film for buildings
∙$800,000 for minority prostate cancer research
∙$3.6 million for marijuana eradication in Kentucky
∙$2.4 million for handicap access and a sprinkler system at a community club in New York

I’m sorry, where does the military support come in from a visitor center in San Fran? From burning marijuana fields in Kentucky? And that sprinkler system in the New York community center? Perhaps any of these things are worthy projects, but how do they belong in a defense bill?

They don’t. They shouldn’t be there at all and the President promised on multiple occasions not to allow them – change, remember? Neither this Congress nor this President are the first to engage in serious pork-barreling. One of my major complaints with the previous administration and in the Congress elected between 2000 and 2005 was their drunken-sailor approach to the public’s money. They also weren’t the first but they sure didn’t put on any brakes in the spending, either. Obama campaigned extensively saying that was going to stop, the one and only bright spot I ever found in his rhetoric. I am hardly surprised he’s casually busted this promise, too, but I’m also not going to just dismiss it as business-as-usual. I would have hoped that his supporters wouldn’t, either, but that’s not going to happen. It’s actions like this – both the passage of this bill and the signing of it – that give rise to and fuel the Tea Party actions around the country. Perhaps this time we can get serious about throwing the bums out and start over with people for whom fiscal prudence isn’t a punch line.


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