The Multiplier

The entire debate about the economic stimulus packages debated by Congress during this recession ought to come down to one key number: the Multiplier. This particular multiplier (there are others) represents an ad hoc estimate of the effectiveness of government spending. What we really want to know is whether the multiplier is significantly larger than 1, significantly less than 1, or approximately equal to 1.

A note of caution before proceeding: the Multiplier has no basis in economic theory. It can be backed out of a number of models, but it would almost never be constant. Theoretically based macroeconomic models - both Keynesian and Neoclassical - will deliver a multiplier less than 1 unless they are specifically built to generate large multipliers. The models used by government economists are ad hoc models, which treat macroeconomic movements like Newtonian physics, rather than more complex general equilibrium models which are currently used for most research.

The Multiplier represents the sum of billions of decisions and interactions that result from government fiscal policy. When the government spends money, it borrows or taxes from some people and gives the money to others, either freely or in exchange for goods and services. This may increase total economic activity (a multiplier greater than 1), decrease it (a multiplier less than 1), or leave it essentially unchanged. Each person and firm is going to react differently to the government's borrowing-and-spending. One firm might find loans for investment unavailable because the government has sucked up all the available funds; another firm might be able to keep its factories open because the government places a huge order for widgets.

We cannot count or measure those billions of decisions, but we can estimate, roughly, the size of the Multiplier. Team Obama is acting under the assumption the assumption that the Multiplier on spending is 1.57 and on taxes 0.99 (source).

This is not without support: Valerie Ramey estimates a multiplier of 1.4 in a recent paper (source).

But Hall and Woodward use wartime data to estimate a multiplier on spending near 1, and the Romers find a tax-cut multiplier of 3! In the most exhaustive study, Barro estimates that the multiplier on spending is 0.8, and near zero for non-wartime spending.

Thus, the Obama team is overshooting the most sanguine estimate of the multiplier on spending, and unaccountably ignoring its own CEA Chair's high estimate of the tax-cut multiplier.

If they are correct, then the spending is a good thing for most Americans. However, the plan still harms some groups: most significantly the young, who will pay the interest on this debt for the rest of our lives. There is no economic theory that suggests government stimulation is helpful for long-run growth - usually, the opposite is true - so we, the young, will be earning less during our lifetimes, and paying higher taxes.

If Team Obama is incorrect, and the multiplier is about 1, then it is spinning its wheels and redistributing income away from the young and toward the old and favored. Perhaps that is good politics, since the young don't vote, and won't see these tax increases until Obama is in the history books.

However, if the administration is drastically wrong, and the multiplier is 0.8, or 0.5, or even lower, as Barro's research suggests, then the government is heavily complicit in worsening the recession. A multiplier as high as 0.8 would still mean that of $1 trillion spent, $200 billion disappears. That would represent a loss of 1.5% of GDP, equal to the entire aggregate loss of GDP from the fourth quarter of 2008. The cure is worse than the disease!

We can - and should - argue about the size of the multiplier. We can cite Nobel prize-winning economists on both sides. But until we have real intelligence about the size of the multiplier and the severity of the punishment on future taxpayers, isn't it irresponsible to be pushing a huge spending package? Remember the last time a president pushed a major spending and policy action on cherry-picked intelligence? How well did that work out?

Posted by Chops at February 27, 2009 10:14 AM
Comments
Comment #276332

Chops,
Thanks for the lesson. For why I look act the ARRI Act as a way for America to fix up our federal buildings with our grandchildren money I am aware that the President and Congress needs to spend the money wisely. However, not being a Designer I wonder given the limitations of the funds for so many projects what is the best way to ensure Our Troop have energy efficient barracks or modernize the government buildings for our grandchildren. For certainly the technology of the 20th Century would result in a lower return than the government allowing the technology of the 21st Century to be used for the same task, Right?

Posted by: Henry Schlatman at February 27, 2009 11:26 AM
Comment #276337

Thanks Chops…good post. To me, this multiplier effect resembles the decision by a company to add more employees. The decision to add more employees (or spend more money by congress) should be measured by how much it will add to the bottom line.

If my company adds 5 employees and increases its profit by more than the cost of the employees it was a wise decision. If government adds PO’s promised 600 to 800 thousand employees how do we measure the bottom line?

Is there some part of our federal and state governments who are short of help to justify adding these huge numbers of new employees? I don’t think so. If that’s true, then we’re merely adding bodies to lower unemployment and create more liberal voters who will of course support the candidates who promise them that their un-needed jobs will continue.

The railroad had a name for this practice as it was known as “featherbedding”. Is this what PO is advocating? If not, how is it different?

Posted by: Jim M at February 27, 2009 1:23 PM
Comment #276338

Nobel winner Paul Krugman says,

“So we have good priorities and plausible projections. What’s not to like about this budget?”


That’s it Chops, Obama’s plan has been blessed and therefore can not be called irresponsible.

The only debate on the multiplier will be a historical one.

Posted by: George at February 27, 2009 1:32 PM
Comment #276339

George writes, “The only debate on the multiplier will be a historical one.”

I would disagree George. About half of the money will be spent by the 2010 midterms. Should the country be disappointed with the “multiplier” we could see a conservative congress undo much of what has been done by liberals.

Posted by: Jim M at February 27, 2009 1:42 PM
Comment #276341

It seems there are several here who advocate Lee’s, “government is business” theory. The multiplier works best when seeking the effects of supply and demand principles of business. Since ‘profit’ is so difficult to measure on a more social scale, fitting it to government spending is like spinning wheels. The effects of government spending is much harder to pigeon-hole, as subjective matters like confidence, optimism, etc., cannot be factored in. Thus, government is NOT business…the multiplier is faulty…

Posted by: Marysdude at February 27, 2009 2:10 PM
Comment #276342

Jim M,

If government adds PO’s promised 600 to 800 thousand employees how do we measure the bottom line?

How about if GDP increases by more than 357 billion dollars in new spending?

(I excluded the 288 billion dollar tax cut and the 144 billion dollars in state aid; it is debatable whether or not GDP needs to grow by 501 billion dollars (357+144=501)

Personally, I think the multiplier will be much more than 1 and the economy will benefit, but if I am wrong; then I certainly won’t be voting for Obama in 2012.

Posted by: Warped Reality at February 27, 2009 2:15 PM
Comment #276343

Chops,

Good post, especially the references to solid research.

It is one thing, George, to note Paul Krugman’s Nobel Prize, but the multiplier is not the field in which his prize was won. The trading relationships of international trade partners was. His blessing means little, if any, more than Walter Williams’s condemnations.

Rephrasing the key question, will this “stimulus” create incentives for both production and consumption?
Consumption, maybe. (That’s the spending side.)
Production? (the taxing side) I highly doubt it.

Posted by: Lee Jamison at February 27, 2009 2:21 PM
Comment #276345

All -

Think like economists. The question isn’t whether government spending will be effective in creating jobs. The question is whether it will be *more* effective than if it had been left in private hands.

I’m sure the government can create a lot of jobs with $1 trillion. But I’ll bet that private businesses could have created more.

Posted by: Chops at February 27, 2009 2:28 PM
Comment #276348

It’s hard to acquire reliable metrics and measurements to make decent projects and plans when so many economic statistics are being misreported.

The CPI calculations are modified in year 1983 and 1998 to decrease the weighting on items increasing in price and increase the weighting on items falling in price. Therefore, based on pre-1983 and pre-1998 calcuations, inflation is really much higher during the last 52 consecutive years of positive inflation.

What are the real statistics for inflation, debt, unemployment, and GDP?

It took over a year for the federal government to admit that a recession started in 2007, and then they said it started in DEC-2007. However, based on any previous years’ inflation-adjusted dollars, GDP actually started falling in late 2006 or early 2007, and the dip in GDP is the biggest dip in GDP in the last 100+ years (if not ever).

And the federal debt is actually worse than what is being reported. Still, the current $10.8 Trillion of National Debt is the largest debt per-capita since the previous record-high in year 1945 after World War II. However, that does not even include the $12.8 Trillion borrowed and spent from Social Security, leaving it pay-as-you-go, with a 77 Million baby-boomer bubble approaching.

So, there’s a lot of cookin’ the books going on these days.

Any way, what will be the impact of these trillion dollar Stimulus packages and bail-outs (e.g. $3.2-to-8.5 Trillion for bank bail-outs: www.latimes.com/news/printedition/front/la-113008-fi-pricetag-g,0,5292528.graphic), with $67 Trillion of nation-wide debt (which includes the $12.8 Trillion borrowed and spent from Social Security), and a separate $62 Trillion Credit Default Swap/Derivatives bubble? Bernanke says that he is currently not worried about inflation, and says that it can be controlled if necessary. How credible is that coming from Bernanke, many economists, Congress, and the administration that didn’t seen any of this economic mess coming? There are other economists who are saying that inflation will most certainly result from the creation of trillions of dollars in new money created out of thin air, massive borrowing, and rampant spending. What do you think? If they are right about inflation and the risks of hyperinflation, a bad situation could become much worse by destroying savings, pensions, entitlements, and wages.

Chops wrote: I’m sure the government can create a lot of jobs with $1 trillion. But I’ll bet that private businesses could have created more.
Probalby. But there may be an even more critical issue.

What if the current debt is near (if not already) untenable?
If so, how is more massive borrowing, debt, money-printing, and rampant spending going to help?
How can trillions of borrowed and new money created out of thin air NOT create inflation?
With such a ridiculously huge debt-bubble, how is growing it bigger going to help?
Where will the money come from to merely pay the interest on so much debt, when that money does not yet exist, and 90%-to-95% of all U.S. dollars in existence in the U.S. already exists as debt?
Is the problem really a credit crisis, or a debt crisis?
Are most people and businesses really ONLY having trouble getting loans, or are they already swimming in an ocean of debt.
With $67 Trillion of nation-wide debt, the nation-wide debt per-capita is $220,000 per person (every one of 305 Million men, women, and children)!

Just for grins, look at $67 Trillion amortized at only 4.0% interest.
It would take 433 years to pay down, and that is only if the nation can consistently pay $233.334 Billion per month (or $2.68 Trillion per year) to stop the debt from growing ever larger. And that does not even include the $62 Trillion Credit Default Swap/Derivatives bubble, which could easily (with rising defaults) decimate the global financial systems.

Yet, Congress just gave itself its 10th raise in 12 years, plus an additional $93,000 per Congress person for petty cash and expenses, and Senator Charles Schumer tells us Americans don’t mind porky projects. Well perhaps most Americans don’t care (yet), since the voters repeatedly reward THEIR incumbent politicians with 85%-to-90% re-election rates (at least until that finally becomes too painful).

Posted by: d.a.n at February 27, 2009 3:02 PM
Comment #276350

Chops,
“I’m sure the government can create a lot of jobs with $1 trillion. But I’ll bet that private businesses could have created more.”

Government can mandate job creation. Private businesses may use the money that way. Then again, they may use the money to outsource their goods and services to pay foreign workers. They may move offshore, physically or for tax purposes, and become parasitic freeriders on the economy. They may engage in domestic business policies which result in wealth capture rather than wealth creation. They may spend the money on exorbitant salaries, or dividends, both examples of wealth capture, which means the money goes to wealthy individuals, & to investments which do not immediately contribute to job creation, such as deposits in foreign banks & equity markets.

The dismal job record of the Bush administration was no coincidence. Its policies encouraged wealth capture, and turned a blind eye to outsourcing and the offshoring of businesses. As a result, real wages fell, while the wealthiest saw their income and wealth increase by a staggering amount.

What part of the last eight years did you not understand?

Posted by: phx8 at February 27, 2009 3:49 PM
Comment #276351

I think the right is missing the big picture on this one.
Chops said “I’m sure the government can create a lot of jobs with $1 trillion. But I’ll bet that private businesses could have created more.”
Except pawn shops and pay day loan places, most businesses are hurting. They’re not about to hire more help. I have a friend who owns a Ford dealership. You can give him a billion dollars and he still wouldn’t hire any help, because no one’s buying cars. That’s why we look to the employer of last resort, the government.
President Obama decided if the government has to hire people to get the economy going again, we need to tackle some of the infrastructure we’ve been neglecting. It makes since to me.
What worries me are the banks. Until they’re fixed no economic recovery is possible. And they’re a long way from being fixed.

Posted by: Mike the Cynic at February 27, 2009 3:52 PM
Comment #276352

Chops said: “The question isn’t whether government spending will be effective in creating jobs. The question is whether it will be *more* effective than if it had been left in private hands.”

The Government OBVIOUSLY will create more jobs during this recession than the private sector will. Let us not forget, the Private Sector caused this recession and the private sector has laid off more than 2 million workers in just the last couple months. The private sector is not creating jobs, it is losing jobs. Hence, the need NOT just for a short term one time economy stimulus but, a sustained longer term plan to keep jobs going, which is precisely what The Economic Recovery And Reinvestment Act was designed to do (despite Republicans wishing for their tax cut which would effectively tell unemployed Americans, OK, you got your tax cut too now go away).

Posted by: David R. Remer at February 27, 2009 3:54 PM
Comment #276353

Phx8 said:

They may spend the money on exorbitant salaries, or dividends, both examples of wealth capture, which means the money goes to wealthy individuals, & to investments which do not immediately contribute to job creation, such as deposits in foreign banks & equity markets.

Wait, were you talking about the bailout plan here? Because I think that’s a pretty good description of what’s been happening to our tax money!

As far as offshoring - GOOD, GOOD, GOOD! If the point is to make Americans better off, then get the most efficient process possible. That will create more jobs (in America and elsewhere) than protectionism, AND it will lower prices.

Posted by: Chops at February 27, 2009 3:56 PM
Comment #276354

When it is just plain logic that the only way for Republicans to gain elective federal offices in 2010 and 2012 is by doing whatever they can to insure Democrat’s plans and efforts fail, why would anyone trust Republican politicians ideas, objections, and obstructionist behavior from their minority position in government, now?

It would be illogical to trust the motives of Republican politicians, unless they are working positively with Democrats to make Democratic plans and efforts work better, as opposed to trying to replace Democrat’s plans and efforts with very different one’s of Republican’s fashioning and persuasion.

We learned from the LAST TAX CUT STIMULUS, you remember, the IRS check in the mail last year, that cutting taxes had only a very small stimulative effect at all, with a very low multiplier effect, due to consumers either saving the tax cut, or paying down debt which stimulated no consumption. Yet, what do we hear from Republican politicians and Jindal? Tax cuts are the way to stimulate the economy.

This is why Republican politicians ARE NOT, and WILL NOT, be trusted by the majority of voting Americans; even if they were to forgive Republicans for putting us in these crises by donning blinders for 8 years to what their corporate executive campaign contributors were doing to our nation’s economy.

Posted by: David R. Remer at February 27, 2009 4:11 PM
Comment #276359

David says:

It would be illogical to trust the motives of Republican politicians, unless they are working positively with Democrats to make Democratic plans and efforts work better, as opposed to trying to replace Democrat’s plans and efforts with very different one’s of Republican’s fashioning and persuasion.

Did you ever make this argument in reverse when Republicans held both elected branches? I’d be surprised. I think what’s most notable is how irresponsible $200 billion deficits were under Bush, and how necessary $2 trillion deficits are supposed to be under Obama (if you listen to Democratic pols).

Posted by: Chops at February 27, 2009 4:47 PM
Comment #276363

Chops,

I think what’s most notable is how irresponsible $200 billion deficits were under Bush, and how necessary $2 trillion deficits are supposed to be under Obama (if you listen to Democratic pols).
AMEN! and AMEN!

What a crock to say we should roll over and seek the success of a course of action that appears to lead straight through minefields! The honorable approach is to try with all our might to alter the course before we have met the ambush.

Posted by: Lee Jamison at February 27, 2009 5:38 PM
Comment #276366

Mike the Cynic,
I agree. Most of what is happening amounts to whistling past the graveyard until the problems with Wall Street are addressed. The recession probably would have happened anyway. What turned this into such a hair-raising event is that so much of it came from the top down, from the failure of the financial sector down to the rest of the economy. That is what turned an unpleasant real estate downturn into a scary descent into double-digit asset deflation.

Until problems with CDO’s and related instruments are solved, the stimulus package will only slow the fall. Greenspan was right. Nationalization is the only viable choice. No one wants it, but- there it is. We can wring out hands and promise to re-privatize the financial sector… someday.

The Reagan Bush era featured tax cuts, enormous deficits, and deregulation resulted in the Savings and Loan crisis. The Bush #41 era featured tax cuts, enormous deficits, and the deregulation financial sector crisis.

What a surprise.

Posted by: phx8 at February 27, 2009 6:18 PM
Comment #276367

Chops,
“As far as offshoring - GOOD, GOOD, GOOD! If the point is to make Americans better off, then get the most efficient process possible.”

Following that path results in an evening of worker wages in America with wages in other countries. If you’d like to see Americans earn the same as their comrades in China, India, and so on, offshoring & outsourcing and importing temporary labor will make it possible.

In addition, technology makes offshoring and outsourcing possible for virtually any industry, even though it is profitable in the United States. It can be more profitable abroad, whether it’s a computer programmer, a network administrator, a call center, etc. Worse, people associated with technology can come to the US on work visas, be paid a fraction of their US counterparts salary, given no benefits, and then returned to the country of origin when the work visa expires. That strategy is used all the time to displace American workers.

There are a lot of poor people in the world and almost no limit on the jobs that can be displaced.

Posted by: phx8 at February 27, 2009 6:28 PM
Comment #276378

Anytime you borrow, guess what? Young people need to pay. The only irresponsible choice would be to sit back and do nothing while the recession rages. This is obvious, and agreed upon by any serious economist.

Funny how you didn’t mind when it was a tax cut for the rich Chops. A tax cut that put more burden on the youth than the Iraq war or this spending bill. That was a truly hideous, irresponsible, stupid thing to do.


Posted by: Max at February 27, 2009 9:37 PM
Comment #276380

If the tax cuts had such a multiplier, people would be throwing Bush a parade.

In the book The Price of Loyalty, Alan Greenspan, as laissez faire a man as you can find, more or less said that in the absence of high taxes, taxes are rarely a great stimulus, and rarely in time to help.

Lastly, both Bush and Hoover failed to forestall serious recessions with great big tax cuts.

When theory produces results you don’t see in reality it’s time to reconsider the theory.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at February 27, 2009 10:20 PM
Comment #276383
What we really want to know is whether the multiplier is significantly larger than 1, significantly less than 1, or approximately equal to 1.
It will probably be less than 1 (i.e. a net loss).

The government is not very good at creating jobs that produce a net benefit. Government is very good at wasting and mismanaging money and spending.
For example, consider the $12.8 Trillion borrowed and spent from Social Security, leaving it pay-as-you-go, with a 77 Million baby-boomer bubble approaching.
Consider the $432 Billion in interest on the National Debt in year 2007.
Who knows how much it was in 2008, or will be in 2009, with trillions now being spent so haphazardly.
Yet, some now believe that is going to change? With 86.9% of the same incumbents in the 111th Congress that were in the 110th Congress?
Besides, the federal government is already biggest employer in the nation.
There are more jobs in government than all manufacturing (nation-wide).
How long can that last? How much bigger can the debt grow, when it is most likely already untenable?
Where’s the money going to come from when it doesn’t yet exist?
What happened to other nations severely deep into debt that also tried to borrow more , create massive amounts of new money out of thin air , and spend their way to prosperity?
Why do so many now think the U.S. is somehow immune to same outcome as those dozens of nations who already learned that lesson the hard and painful way.

At any rate, the voters have the government that the voters elect (and re-elect, and re-elect, and re-elect , … , at least until that finally becomes too painful).

Posted by: d.a.n at February 27, 2009 11:37 PM
Comment #276384

Marysdude,

It seems there are several here who advocate Lee’s, “government is business” theory.
The theory is that government IS a business. It is a corporation just as any other corporation, ‘for’, or ‘not-for’ profit not withstanding. It presents itself to us as being intended to make our lives better, but its lowest common denominator (and what it will drift toward any time we allow it to) is to behave like a mafia.

My personal chief complaint about both sides of the political aisle is that people trust corporations to act like good people. Many conservatives trust for-profits to behave like good people. They don’t. Most, if not nearly all, liberals trust government to behave like good people. They don’t, either.

When the two types of corporation behave equally badly the outcome has the potential of being much worse for government bad behavior because market forces can’t kill a government, and they can continue to tax the public regardless of how much damage they do.
GM and Chrysler are walking dead. It is only the intervention of GOVERNMENT that can keep those zombies from rotting off their own bones.
On the other hand for the government to fail we all pretty much have to die together.

Posted by: Lee Jamison at February 27, 2009 11:43 PM
Comment #276387

If the federal government really and truly wanted to help most Americans, how about simply stopping some of the abuses that have been hammering most Americans for decades, and simply doing a few of these NO-BRAINER things?:

  • (01) Stop H-1B/H-2B abuse. Stop importing 1.5 Million foreign H-1B workers per year, since we have 11.5-to-25 Million unemployed Americans.
  • (02) Stop the dishonest, greedy, usurious, predatory lending practices of the banks, or Stop the Federal Reserve’s Ponzi-scheme which steeply leverages debt-to-reserves (i.e. 9-to-1 fractional lending). Banks are essentially loan-sharking, jacking up adjustable rate mortgages (foreclosures be damned) with ridiculously high interest rates (commonly up to 10%-to-20% and as high as 64%) and other predetory lending practices. Banks are also preying on the young, poor, minorities, financially naive, and people deep in debt due to outrageously expensive medical fees. Also, due to excessive creation of new money out of thin air, we have had 52 consecutive years of inflation, which is why a 1950 U.S. Dollar is now worth only 10 cents (see: One-Simple-Idea.com/USD_Falling.htm).

  • (03) Stop growing and eliminate all of the massive bloat and waste in the federal government now. We don’t need all of this bloat: www.akdart.com/gov1.html

  • (04) Stop the war in Iraq;

  • (05) Stop the U.S. military presence in 132 nations around the world. That costs a LOT! Is all of that necessary? No. Reduce that presence significantly (if not totally), without becoming excessively protectionist.

  • (06) Stop throwing money, subsidies, tax breaks, and welfare at failing banks, financial corporations, the wealthy, and Wall Street; stop rewarding failure and cheating the competition;

  • (07) Stop fueling rampant corruption, by increasing and enforcing more transparency and accountability;

  • (08) Stop Constitutional violations; reduce lawlessness; enforce existing laws (e.g. Article V); enforce e-Verify; stop illegal immigration and $70-to-$327 Billion in annual net losses due to illegal immigration;

  • (09) Stop plundering Social Security surpluses; $12.8 Trillion has been borrowed and spent, leaving Social Security pay-as-you-go, with 77 Million baby-boomer bubble approaching;

  • (10) Stop regressive taxation: One-Simple-Idea.com/DisparityTrend.htm#Taxes

  • (11) Stop killing 195,000 per year due to preventable medical mistakes. Between 1999 and 2004, over 1.5 million people were killed by preventable medical mistakes. That is more than all the American soldiers killed in the American Revolution (4,435), the War of 1812 (2,260), the Indian Wars (1,000), the Mexican War (1,733), the Civil War (462,000), the Spanish American War (385), WWI (53,402), WWII (291,557), Vietnam War (58,209), Korean War (36,574), the Iraq Gulf War (529), and the current Iraq war 19-Mar-2003-to-24-Jan-2009 (4,232), combined! Create a non-profit national health insurance system (get rid of the millions of unnecessary middlemen); build non-profit hospitals and clinics.

  • (12) Stop repeatedly rewarding irresponsible, FOR-SALE, incompetent, and/or corrupt incumbent politicians with 85%-to-90% re-election rates. Stop rewarding corruption, or suffer the painful consequences: One-Simple-Idea.com/NeverWorse.htm

  • (13) Stop Congress from rewarding itself with a raise almost every year (Congress recently gave itself the 10th raise in 12 years; their raises are actually automitic and a BILL is required to stop the automatic raise; must be nice, eh? Congress also gave each member another $93,000 for petty cash and expenses.). Is that necessary? No. Especially when U.S. Troops go without armor, adequate medical care, promised benefits, and have to do 2, 3, or 4+ tours in Iraq and/or Afghanistan. The incumbent politicians’ greed and arrogance is only exceeded by the stupidity of the voters who repeatedly reward them with perpetual re-election.

  • (14) Stop pandering by politicians who are virtually FOR-SALE, as evidenced by 99.7% of all 200 Million eligible voters who are vastly out-spent by a very tiny 0.3% of the wealthiest voters who make 83% of all federal campaign donations of $200 or more (source: One-Simple-Idea.com/OpenSecrets_DonorDemographics.htm). Allow only equal public financing of elections. Otherwise, politicians will continue to sell-out most Americans!

  • (15) Stop pork-barrel; pass a One-Purpose-Per-BILL amendment;

  • (16) Stop career politicians and judges; pass a Term-Limits amendment for all offices;

  • (17) Stop the numerous unfair incumbent advantages: One-Simple-Idea.com/FAQ.htm#UnfairAdvantages

  • (18) Stop the deterioration of public education; eliminate the bloated, over-paid, and incompetent adminstrative staff; More education solutions: One-Simple-Idea.com/Education.htm

  • (19) Stop all unnecessary and wasteful spending. Go through the federal budget with a fine-tooth comb. Shift all unnecessary spending to spending that is only absolutely necessary. If the federal government is going to spend money to create jobs, those jobs must produce a net benefit (which the pork-laden $787 Billion Stimulus BILL probably won’t do). How about focusing on one of the nation’s most severe vulnerabilities, and create jobs to research, develop, and implement better and renewable energy resources, and rebuild and improve the nation’s infrastructure (which will create long-term savings and benefits). Work on making the U.S. more energy independent. Work on the most important infrastructure projects. Work on more efficient and cost effective transportation. Develop a non-profit health insurance system (and possibly more non-profit hospitals, clinics, and healthcare centers).

  • (20) Stop these 10 major abuses now.
More solutions…

But I guess those things above would make to much sense?
There are a lot of things the government could do to help most Americans, which doesn’t cost a lot of money.
There are lots of good ideas and solutions.
Unfortunately, Congress is where good ideas and solutions go to die.

Chops wrote: “As far as offshoring - GOOD, GOOD, GOOD! If the point is to make Americans better off, then get the most efficient process possible.”
Are you serious? How is moving jobs out of the nation better? Germany ($1.1 Trillion) and China ($1.3 Trillion) each (separately) have more exports than the U.S., which is now the biggest debtor nation on the planet. We can’t all wash each others’ laundry.

Unfortunately, we have two excessive extremes in this nation:

  • Category [1] One extreme wants unfettered capitalism and freedom to explore and wallow in every manifestation of unchecked greed (which we have seen plenty of lately).

  • Category [2] The other extreme wants a nanny-state with citizens increasingly dependent on the government; with massive cradle-to-grave government programs (which are usually severely mismanaged) that nuture a sense of entitlement and dependency on government; wants to grow government ever larger (despite the already current nightmare proportions); rewards failure and laziness; and perpetuates the myth that we can somehow all live at the expense of everyone else.
Chops’ comment appears to adhere to the philosophy of Category [1].

At any rate, the voters have the government that the voters elect (and re-elect, and re-elect, and re-elect , … , at least until that finally becomes too painful).

Posted by: d.a.n at February 28, 2009 12:40 AM
Comment #276388

Lee,

Government and business are each corrupt, sometimes government corrupts business and sometimes business corrupts government…that being said, government can be influenced by business, but cannot ‘be’ business and cannot be run as a business. It is the one greatest failures of modern times…trying to turn our Democratic Republic into AIG or GM. It is the ‘business’ of government to take care of those things that business and individuals cannot do for themselves. That is a very subjective mandate. No business can be successful with a subjective mandate.

Posted by: Marysdude at February 28, 2009 2:56 AM
Comment #276393

Chop,
If the Market grows because the demand for resources and supplies increases than with the Matket having dropped 50% over the last year should that mean the Corporations of America can expand almost 50% again before triggering other things in the economy such as inflation?

Thus, with the American Consumer short on cash and the American Small Business Owner not needing to expand anytime soon. How else can America grown in value expect by investing in itself?

For why I can agree that President Obama and the Democratic Party loaded the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 to favor the Federal Government and Infrastructure instead of Americas’ Local and State Governments. I do see the Wisdom of allowing the American Consumer to grow in Self-Wealth and make “We the Corporation” make our money the Old Fashion Way by earning it through profits at least until we solve the Energy Independent Issue.

Because why I can only imagine what it would take to make the Dow jump back up to 14,000 come Monday I do believe the fallout would lead us right back into $4.00 per gallon gasoline, higher inflation, and a whole lot other intended or unintended problems would it not?

Posted by: Henry Schlatman at February 28, 2009 4:29 AM
Comment #276395

Henry,

Quite a few of those bucks are being directed into state and local treasuries, and some of our richest (tongue-in-cheek) states, like Mississippi, Louisiana and Georgia, are saying they may not take their share. If they can’t use it to improve the plight of their citizens, perhaps it’s better spent at the federal level?

Many of the infrastructure projects proposed by Obama will be done by states as well.

Posted by: Marysdude at February 28, 2009 5:27 AM
Comment #276401

oops, I thought this was about the octomom

Posted by: gergle at February 28, 2009 8:55 AM
Comment #276406

Lee Jamison-
A government is a government. When we start treating it like anything else, we get into trouble.

I keep them distinct, if for no other reason, than that government deals with issues beyond the economic, and must be willing to inflict financial losses, if its other duties require it, if worse things are not to happen. Now believe me, I’m all for the government helping to keep the economy in good condition, and preventing market disasters. But its dangerous to treat the whims and wishes of commerce as top priority when safety, national interests, and the enforcement of laws are also critical to the stability of our society, and the businesses aren’t always the wise protectors of their interests that they like to think they are.

What distinguishes corrupt from non-corrupt government is whether the government serves its people or serves the powerful regardless of the general consequences for society. When a government ignores the dangers of an overly consolidated finance industry so that the CEO’s can make more money, that’s corrupt. When an administration plays buddy-buddy with a contractor even as their actions get soldiers killed, and undermine strategic objectives (like Blackwater, or KBR) then that’s corruption. When changes in regulation help produce situations like in California, where deliberate shortages were created and fears of excessively low capacity were drummed up for profit, that’s corruption.

What made the Bush Administration business’s friend also made the administration the economy’s ruin. To keep order, a government has to be willing to make some investors have a bad day to make sure other investors don’t take a bath because of inflated balance sheets. To maintain honest commerce, government has to be willing to cut down on profits that are earned through dishonest methods.

To maintain the public health and prevent climate change, Government must be willing to inflict sanctions on and halt the activities of those who pollute, and it must be willing to help certain industries go the way of the buggy-whip manufacturers.

Somebody’s ox is going to get gored when government’s doing something right. But we should keep in mind that before, others were seeing their interests ruled against. They just weren’t those who the government had sided against.

America’s economy went up on what was basically false growth. Only trouble is, people didn’t distinguish between the true and the false, so they set up their finances that way. So to please a bunch of cheating bastards on Wall Street, we essentially set up our entire economy to fail.

That’s corruption. There has to be more social responsiblity in our government and our economy, and not merely because its nice, but because the alternative is to create gross defects in our judgment of the true strength and sustainability of our economy, just to make a not so precious few rich or richer.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at February 28, 2009 10:35 AM
Comment #276408
Stephen Daugherty wrote: America’s economy went up on what was basically false growth.
True.

As usual, the IN-PARTY and its minions tried hard to make us believe the economy was doing fine. It’s not hard to look wealthy while maxing out credit cards and running up huge debts. Now they all look very #*##!^g stupid now, because they apparently thought we could borrow , money-print , and spend their way to prosperity. Or perhaps they were too busy fillin’ their own pockets to give a $#!+ ?

Unfortuantely, it appears that the new IN-PARTY is going to try a similar, but more colossal version of massive borrowing , money-printing , and rampant spending.

We’ll see.
Where’s the money going to come from, when it doesn’t already exist, and 90%-to-95% of all U.S. dollars in existence in the U.S. exists as debt?
How can tens of Trillions of new money , borrowing , and spending not create inflation?
How can Ben Bernanke say he’s not worrieed about inflation?
How can the severity of a massive debt-bubble be reduced with more debt?
How is this $787 Billion Stimulus BILL going to result in a net benefit, when it fails to prioritize and focus on the nations most important problems, and still fails to stop these 10 abuses that have been hammering most Americans for decades?
Unless there is a significant net benefit (i.e. a significantly larger multiplier than 1.0) from the $787 Billion Stimulus BILL, so much additional borrowing , debt , money-printing , and spending , then the debt will simply get worse (as if that were possible).

Of course, the new IN-PARTY (as usual) will blame it all on the new OUT-PARTY (and vice-versa).
But perhaps enough voters, when enough voters are bankrupt , jobless , homeless , and hungry , may finally realize (as the majority of voters finally realized in 1927 to 1933) that most (if not all) incumbent politicians in Congress aren’t worth the crap their made of, and repeatedly rewarding incumbent politicians with perpetual re-election is not only not working, but making everything worse, and worse, and worse.

  • Start __ End __ Congress _ Re-Election ___ Party Seat-Retention

  • Year ___ Year ___ # _____ Rate ________ Rate

  • 1927 ___ 1929 ___ 070st ___ 83.6% ________ 96.4% (87 incumbents ousted: 22(D), 64(R), 1(FL) )

  • 1929 ___ 1931 ___ 071st ___ 79.7% ________ 92.5% (108 incumbents ousted)

  • 1931 ___ 1933 ___ 072nd ___ 76.8% ________ 88.5% (123 incumbents ousted)

  • 1933 ___ 1935 ___ 073rd ___ 61.2% ________ 78.7% (206 of 531 incumbents ousted; 59 Dems, 147 Repubs)
Eventually, pain and misery will finally trump blind partisan loyalties, apathy, complacency, laziness, greed, corruption, and excessive selfishess? The sooner the better, because a lot of pain and misery is already in the pipeline. And it’s not at all clear that this nation’s massive debt-bubble can be solved by more of the same (i.e. more debt , borrowing , money-printing , and spending), which will almost certainly lead to more inflation, and possibly hyperinflation. By the time hyperinflation appears eminent, it will be too late to stop. Especially if the debt-bubble simply grows larger. Eventually, they math becomes all too obvious, and the debt simply becomes untenable.

At any rate, the voters have the government that the voters elect (and re-elect, and re-elect, and re-elect , … , at least until that finally becomes too painful).


  • Posted by: d.a.n at February 28, 2009 11:44 AM
    Comment #276412

    Dan-
    One part of things here is that Republicans focused on deficit spending with entities and classes of people that did not necessarily spend more when they got more, the folks who were already pretty optimal in their spending to start with.

    Another part is that the Republicans were less interested in generally productive businesses, and didn’t care much about keeping jobs in country. Creative destruction, and all that.

    If you really look at the stimulus bill, you’ll find much of it is about industries and infrastructure, and not merely in terms of shovel-ready projects. Economy is not merely about the transfer of money, but the ability of businesses do substantial work for the resources they’re given. That’s the philsophy behind Obama’s plan, and I think it’s better than the corporate giveaways strategy that marked policy for decades, even under Clinton.

    Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at February 28, 2009 12:12 PM
    Comment #276413

    Max said:

    Funny how you didn’t mind when it was a tax cut for the rich Chops. A tax cut that put more burden on the youth than the Iraq war or this spending bill.

    You’re wrong, Max. I opposed the Bush tax cuts at the time because they were not fiscally responsible. As it turns out, the tax cuts actually raised government revenue (see: Laffer, Arthur), but I opposed them at the time. For the record, I also opposed the Iraq War.

    Here’s a blog entry from 2004 with my comments on the Bush budget (scroll to the last paragraph).

    Posted by: Chops at February 28, 2009 12:30 PM
    Comment #276415

    Stephen said:

    So to please a bunch of cheating bastards on Wall Street, we essentially set up our entire economy to fail. That’s corruption.

    That *is* corruption! And that’s EXACTLY what the stimulus packages have all been aimed at. There isn’t even a pretext of fairness (like the stupid checks they sent us in April) - instead, the government is borrowing billions of dollars from sleezy financiers with their left hand and then handing them back the same money with their right hand. And we’ll be paying interest on it forever.

    When did bailing out wealthy autoworkers, managers, and shareholders and even wealthier investment bankers become the Democratic Party’s favored form of welfare. I liked the Roosevelt and Johnson versions much better. They hurt the economy, but they helped the poor.

    This new fiscal policy hurts the economy and helps the already-affluent. That’s corrupt!

    Posted by: Chops at February 28, 2009 12:38 PM
    Comment #276417

    Marysdude,
    Why the States may recieve and adminstrate the funds for Medicare, road construction, and other projects within their borders. If you read the Act other than Comgress helping the State meet the Mandated Federal Social Programs the State Leaders are limited and regulated on which projects are allowed to be funded.

    For example, the Act does allow for interstate bridges to be replaced with the funds; however, the bridges on Local and State roads may not recieve funding unless the State Leaders can show “Just Cause” and match the Federal Dollars.

    Yes, it would have been nice IMHO if Congress sent the States a blank check to enssure their citiens can make it through this economic breakdown. Nevertheless, when borrowing your Grandchildren Money I do think that it was a wise move to modernize Americas’ Federal Buildings, Facilities, and Institutes so that the Children of the 21st Century can have a Working Government.

    Chops,
    A wealthy autoworker? Please give me a break for add up every bill that the Elite of Society believes that should be paid by the Individual Citizen and tell me how much money these Autoworkers would have to buy the Goods and Services of the Market. Because if their Health Insurance is to expensive through their Union Purchase Power, would you like to trade them paychecks when the Individual Autoworker will have to pay for their own Health Insurance seeing that those cost have doubled in the past few years.

    P.S. Why I will give you Management of the Indusrty, I do believe that a case can be made that shows the Average Stockholder and Wealthy Investment Banker is more in line with the Poor than the Status Quo of America.

    Posted by: Henry Schlatman at February 28, 2009 1:33 PM
    Comment #276418

    Chops-
    Let’s clear some things up: bank bailouts and Auto company bailouts are not part of the Stimulus package. The checks being sent in April are going to keep coming with every paycheck (unless you’re on assistance, in which case, you get a lump sum check). Autoworkers aren’t wealthy. They typically take home no more than 20-30 dollars an hour in total, with the rest of the inaccurate 70/hr estimate being peddled (yeah, as if they’re being paid the retired worker’s benefits) Meanwhile, the tax breaks in the package are entirely aimed at those making under 250K.

    This is what bugs the crap out of me about the opposition to these different plans. I like having nice, productive discussions about real information. Instead I have to deal with all this misinformation that gets spread and accepted all too quickly on the right, and which naturally becomes the justifications for further stonewalling and political stuntwork.

    We’re going to see a great number of blue-collar working-class jobs come out of this stimulus.

    Meanwhile, about the other stuff: The banks need bailing out. I wish I could let them fail and have them replaced, but I’m not going to cripple the economy just to see that principle fulfilled. If we have to bailout some real s***heads, so be it.

    If everything goes right, many of the @5580!35 who made money cheating the economy might make money here, too. But if Obama succeeds, the rest of us will benefit, too.

    As for who helped or hurt the economy? The economy grew under FDR, after he got into office, and America grew to its greatest prosperity under Democratic Party Auspices. Meanwhile, nearly every period of Republican rule, as of late, has resulted in some kind of recession or economic downturn, despite all they did just for business.

    Government investment isn’t always needed or good, but in times like this, when private investment is paralyzed, there’s often not much of an alternative.

    Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at February 28, 2009 1:37 PM
    Comment #276424

    Daugherty writes; “I like having nice, productive discussions about real information. Instead I have to deal with all this misinformation that gets spread and accepted all too quickly on the right, and which naturally becomes the justifications for further stonewalling and political stuntwork.”

    Then, he defies his own preference for “productive discussions about real information” by writing…

    “America grew to its greatest prosperity under Democratic Party Auspices. Meanwhile, nearly every period of Republican rule, as of late, has resulted in some kind of recession or economic downturn, despite all they did just for business.”

    Sorry Daugherty, if you are serious please follow your own advice about “real information” rather than provide your own beliefs and prejudices as evidence of reality.

    Posted by: Jim M at February 28, 2009 2:44 PM
    Comment #276425

    Chops writes; “this new fiscal policy hurts the economy and helps the already-affluent. That’s corrupt!”

    Yep…that’s correct. It’s “trickle-up poverty” disguised as a crisis with impending financial doom being shouted every day by PO and his liberal minions to panic otherwise sensible folks.

    Hardly a day passes without PO shouting “fire in the theater” and then stupidly expecting American’s to be more confident. His irrational exuberance for catastrophe is leading me to believe that in 2010 he will loose his puppets in congress and will face a new conservative leadership that will undo much of the damage being perpetrated upon us.

    Liberals in congress have become embolden with their theft of taxpayer money as evidenced by that illustrious senator from NY Mr. Schummmmmmer stating in effect that “pork is great”.

    Yup…tttttthat’s right folks, let’s have more pork ala Porky Chucky Pig and the big oinker PO with his 800,000 new government paper shufflers.

    To use Henry’s phraseology…for why have we not seen congress give themselves another raise for all the hard work they have done?


    Posted by: Jim M at February 28, 2009 3:07 PM
    Comment #276428

    Jim-
    If something is generally demonstrable, like America becoming the leading economic power between the time FDR took office and Reagan was elected, like Reagan and Bush both running record deficits and raising the national debt together, then I don’t have to source it until I’m cross-eyed.

    The difference, though, with what I’m talking about, is where you could make all kinds of technical arguments quibbling with what I claim, at least I’m not fielding one myth after another in support of a conclusion. I’m not making claims about mice, about ACORN, about tattoos, and about various other matters.

    What am I to make of such arguments? Either you have no respect for the truth, or a reckless disregard for the need to check out your assumptions.

    As for yelling fire in a theatre, the proverbial cry is made when there is nothing ablaze. It’s a pointless panicking of people that is irresponsible because it’s untrue.

    Our economy just contracted about 6.8 percent, if I’m not mistaken. This is not a made up crisis.

    If you want to discuss pork, discuss real pork, with real facts. Don’t just make the claim. It’s spectacularly easy to make wild claims. If you’re wrong, if you’re essentially careless with the truth while you’re trying to panic people into not taking Obama’s direction on policy, as I’ve observed Republicans to be, then it’s your side that’s yelling fire in the theatre.

    The American people were sick of your attempts to panic us out of rejection of your economic policies in the election. What makes you think that even more heightened rhetoric and fearmongering is going to restore America’s trust in the GOP?

    Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at February 28, 2009 3:51 PM
    Comment #276439

    Chops asked: “Did you ever make this argument in reverse when Republicans held both elected branches?”

    It is equally applicable, isn’t it? I did write just in the last couple days here that Democrat’s strategy from 2006 through 2008 was to simply give Bush and Republicans the rope they needed to hang themselves in the 2008 elections. Wrote on that before the 2008 elections as well.

    Of course, a primary motive of the minority party is to become the majority party which, too often makes secondary as motives, working for the nation or the people. And yes, on that topic I have written several times over the years.

    Posted by: David R. Remer at February 28, 2009 7:22 PM
    Comment #276448

    David R. Remer-
    There are always motivations for that, but no party can win if they don’t first get non-aligned people on their side. In 1994, it was the Republicans who succeeded, after years of party decline and a generational shift that did not work in the Democrat’s favor. Now the Republicans, having gone all in for Bush and lost, did the same.

    Democrats can end up in the same predicament if they fail to see practical governance as top priority. The relationship between Washington and the rest of America can be parasitic, or it can be symbiotic. So long as running the country well isn’t a top priority, the folks in Washington are simply parasites. It doesn’t help a party to have these people in charge, and it doesn’t help America.

    Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at February 28, 2009 11:40 PM
    Comment #276456

    Stephen D., good points. So, why is the Democrats are loading this year’s all important budget with 10’s of thousands of Earmarks designed to meet the wishes of special interests in the home districts instead of the nation’s dire need for economic rescue at the lowest cost to future tax payers?

    Why are House Democrats acting as if they learned nothing from their nearly 2 decades in the Congressional wilderness as the minority party?

    Inquiring registered independent voters want to know.

    Posted by: David R. Remer at March 1, 2009 12:44 AM
    Comment #276480
    Stephen Daugherty wrote: If you really look at the stimulus bill, you’ll find much of it is about industries and infrastructure, and not merely in terms of shovel-ready projects.

    So, what’s the answer to David’s question ?

    David R. Remer wrote: So, why is [it that] the Democrats are loading this year’s all important budget with 10’s of thousands of Earmarks designed to meet the wishes of special interests in the home districts instead of the nation’s dire need for economic rescue at the lowest cost to future tax payers?
    Why are House Democrats acting as if they learned nothing from their nearly 2 decades in the Congressional wilderness as the minority party?

    Good question!

    Stephen Daugherty wrote: d.a.n-I don’t see pork barrel there, little projects just meant to appeal to a base back home.
    Really? Seriously?
    Stephen Daugherty wrote: Our economy just contracted about 6.8 percent, if I’m not mistaken. This is not a made up crisis. If you want to discuss pork, discuss real pork, with real facts.
    No one said there was no crisis.

    You want proof of pork-barrel? See below.

    It appears that those that claim that the pork-barrel is insignificant (or non-existent) need to do a little research.

    And that list below is most likely only the tiny tip of the iceberg, among tens of thousands of earmarks costing tens or hundreds of billions per year.

      At least 1 of the following 7 criteria are used to define the following below as pork-barrel:
      • (1) Requested by only one chamber of Congress;
      • (2) Not specifically authorized;
      • (3) Not competitively awarded;
      • (4) Not requested by the President;
      • (5) Greatly exceeds the President’s budget request or the previous year’s funding;
      • (6) Not the subject of congressional hearings; or
      • (7) Serves only a local or special interest.

    ____ Fiscal Year 2009 Appropriations Earmarks (as of FEB-2009) ____

    Agriculture:

    • Commerce, Justice, Science (www.cagw.org/site/DocServer/House_Comm__Justice__Sci.pdf?docID=3101)
      • 1,123 projects at a cost of $409.8 million. The top five porkers are CJS Appropriations Subcommittee member Patrick Kennedy (D-RI) with $9.95 million; CJS Appropriations Subcommittee Chairman Alan Mollohan (D-WV) with $9.7 million; CJS Appropriations Subcommittee member C.A “Dutch” Ruppersberger (D-MD); with $8 million; CJS Appropriations Subcommittee member Rosa DeLauro (D-CT) with $7.9 million and House appropriator Ralph Regula (R-OH) with $7.7 million. The following are among the most egregious examples of pork-barreling in this House version of the Fiscal 2009 Commerce, Justice, Science (CJS) Appropriations Act:
      • $1,350,000 for planetarium costs: $900,000 by House appropriator Jesse Jackson, Jr. (D-IL), and Reps. Rahm Emanuel (D-IL) and Danny Davis (D-IL) for planetarium equipment; $250,000 by House appropriator Ray LaHood (R-Ill.) for the Lakeview Museum Planetarium; and $200,000 by CJS Appropriations Subcommittee Ranking Member Rodney Frelinghuysen (R-NJ) for the County College of Morris Planetarium.
      • $700,000 by House appropriator John Olver (D-Mass.) for a large millimeter telescope at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. According to its website : “The Large Millimeter Telescope (LMT) Project is the joint effort of the University of Massachusetts at Amherst and the Instituto Nacional de Astrofísica, Óptica, y Electrónica in Mexico. The LMT is a 50m diameter millimeter-wave telescope designed for principal operation at wavelengths between 1mm and 4mm.” The
      • telescope is atop Sierra Negra, a volcanic peak in the state of Puebla, Mexico. The project has received $18.9 million in pork since 2000.
      • $400,000 by Rep. Rick Boucher (D-VA) for horseshoe crab research at Virginia Tech. According to a March 28, 2008 Richmond Times Dispatch article, “The horseshoe crab’s blood is useful in intravenous medications and has cancer-fighting properties.” This is another case of corporate welfare. Corporations that need the research should pay for it themselves.
      • $200,000 by Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-NY) for research at the American Museum of Natural History to advance environmental literacy through public education in New York.
      The Senate version of the Fiscal 2009 Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration, and Related Agencies Act (www.cagw.org/site/News2?page=NewsArticle&id=11580)
        This BILL contained 287 projects for a total of $167.2 million. The top porkers in the bill are Senate Appropriations Committee Ranking Member Thad Cochran (R-Miss.) with $27.4 million; Sen. Roger Wicker (R-MS) with $23.6 million; Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Robert Byrd (D-WV) with $18.9 million; Senate Agriculture Appropriations Subcommittee Ranking Member Robert Bennett (R-Utah) with $16 million; and Senate Appropriations Committee member Larry Craig (R-ID) and Sen. Mike Crapo (R-ID) squeezing out $10.6 million each. The following are examples of pork added to the bill:
      • $4,841,000 by 19 senators for wood utilization research in Alaska, Idaho, Louisiana, Maine, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, North Carolina, Oregon, Tennessee, and West Virginia. This research has cost taxpayers $95.6 million since 1985.
      • $1,117,000 by Senate Agriculture Appropriations Subcommittee Ranking Member Robert Bennett (R-Utah) for Mormon crickets.
      • $300,000 by Senate Appropriations Committee Ranking Member Thad Cochran (R-Miss.) and Sen. Roger Wicker (R-Miss.) for shrimp aquaculture. Since 1985, $69 million has been appropriated for this research.
      • $270,000 by Sens. Max Baucus (D-MT) and Jon Tester (D-MT) for the Montana Sheep Institute. This organization has received $3.1 million in pork since 2002.
      • $259,000 by Senate Appropriations Committee member Daniel Inouye (D-HI) and Sen. Daniel Akaka (D-HI) for floriculture. According to a September 13, 2007, Star Bulletin article Hawaii’s floriculture and nursery products grossed $100.7 million in 2006. Since 1995, $4.1 million (or more) in pork has gone for this research.
      • $237,000 by Senate Appropriations Committee member Patty Murray (D-WA) and Sen. Maria Cantwell (D-WA) for the Wine Grape Foundation Block at Washington State University. Wine in the state is a $3 billion industry. Why can’t it fund its own research?
      • $184,000 by Sens. Susan Collins (R-Maine) and Olympia Snowe (R-Maine) for Lowbush Wild Blueberry research. Since 1995, $3.2 million in pork has gone for this research.
    • Commerce, Justice, Science (www.cagw.org/site/DocServer/Senate_Commerce_09.pdf?docID=3161)
      • The Senate version of the Fiscal 2009 Commerce, Justice, and Science (CJS) Appropriations Act contained 574 projects for a total of $436.5 million in this 2009’s Senate BILL. The top five porkers are Senate CJS Appropriations Subcommittee Ranking Member Richard Shelby (R-AK) with $72.9 million; Senate Appropriations Committee Ranking Member Thad Cochran (R-MS) with $52.4 million; Senate CJS Appropriations Committee Chairwoman Barbara Mikulski (D-MD) with $48.7 million; Sen. Roger Wicker (R-MS) with $41.2 million and Senate appropriator Daniel Inouye (D-HI) with $32.1 million. The following are examples that pork-loving members added to the bill:
      • $24.6 million for two projects by Senate CJS Appropriations Subcommittee Chairwoman Barbara Mikulski (D-Md.), Sens. Jim Cardin (D-Md.), Jim Webb (D-Va.), and John Warner (R-Va.), to aid watermen in the Chesapeake Bay with new work opportunities, and to restore oyster habitat and plant disease free oysters in scientifically selected sites throughout the Chesapeake Bay;
      • $4.9 million for nine projects for the Marshall Space and Flight Center in Huntsville, by Senate CJS Appropriations Subcommittee Ranking Member Richard Shelby (R-Ala.);
      • $750,000 by Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) for the University of Louisville to research factors that hinder the wound healing process;
      • $450,000 by Senator David Vitter (R-La.) to eliminate public corruption and reduce white collar crime;
      • $400,000 by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) for copper wire theft prevention in Las Vegas; and,
      • $100,000 for the Gulf of Maine Lobster Foundation by Senator Olympia Snowe (R-Maine) to provide economic relief to Maine lobstermen.

    Defense:

    • Energy & Water (www.cagw.org/site/DocServer/House_Energy.pdf?docID=3122)
      • 655 projects at a cost of $821 million. The top five porkers for Energy and Water are Rep. Stephanie Herseth (D-S.D.) with $32.3 million; Rep. Tim Walz (D-Minn.) with $28.5 million; House Appropriations Committee Chairman David Obey (D-Wis.) with $27.62 million; House Energy and Water Development Appropriations Subcommittee Ranking Member David Hobson (R-Ohio) with $27.6 million; and Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa) with $25 million. Like so many other appropriations bills, the Energy and Water Development Act is awash in wasteful spending. Here are some outrageous examples of pork in the BILL:
      • $5 million by House Energy and Water Development Appropriations Subcommittee member Mike Simpson (R-ID) for construction in rural Idaho.
      • $1.35 million by House appropriator Ralph Regula (R-OH) for the Rolls Royce solid oxide fuel systems development. Rolls Royce’s automobiles sell at prices ranging from $250,000 to more than $400,000. Cha-Ching!
      • $600,000 by House Energy and Water Appropriation Subcommittee member John Olver (D-MA) for the Wisdom Way Solar Village. The village has already received $1.89 million in loans from the state of Massachusetts. The project will consist of 20 homes with 11 of the homes sold to people of low income; 7 homes will be sold to people of moderate income; and 2 are for individuals with disabilities. The combined state and federal subsidy comes out to $124,500 per home, which is not smart for the taxpayers.
      • $210,000 by House Energy and Water Appropriations Subcommittee member Ed Pastor (D-AZ) for the Native American Affairs Program and the Sid Yates Scholarship Program, under the heading of “Water and Related Resources.”
    • Financial Services (www.cagw.org/site/DocServer/House_Financial_Services.pdf?docID=3103)
      • In the House version of the Fiscal 2009 Financial Services Appropriations Act, there were 197 projects for a total of $57 million in the bill. That represents an increase of 45% above the 136 projects and an 84% increase above the dollar amount of $31 million contained in the fiscal 2008 House version of the financial services BILL. The following are among the most egregious examples of pork-barreling in the BILL:
      • $17.5 million by Rep. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) for renovations at the Franklin D. Roosevelt Presidential Library.
      • $1.3 million by House appropriator Harold “Hal” Rogers (R-KY) for the National Alliance for Model State Drug Laws.
      • $300,000 by House Financial Services Appropriations Subcommittee member Dennis Rehberg (R-Mont.) for the Montana World Trade Center (MWTC). The organization’s website says that it can “help your business realize international sales and expansion goals that would otherwise be unattainable.” One MWTC grantee, the Missoula Children’s Theatre, makes “overseas forays every year, visiting U.S. military bases and international schools, where they help students put together full-fledged theatrical productions.” Companies can join the MWTC for a measly $300 per year but taxpayers have to pony up $300,000.
      • $250,000 by House appropriator Marion Berry (D-AR) for the Arkansas Commercial Driver Training Institute at Arkansas State University.
      • $200,000 by Rep. Corrine Brown (D-FL) for the Beaver Street Enterprise Center (BSE). According to its website, BSE helps new businesses, home-based businesses, and “if your business is established and you want to expand; if you would benefit from an affordable, professional workplace; or if you are ready for mentoring from top community business leaders.” BSE supporters include Bank of America and Wachovia Bank.
      • $100,000 by House Financial Services Appropriations Subcommittee member James Moran (D-Va.) for the Georgetown Metro Connection.
    • Homeland Security (www.cagw.org/site/DocServer/House_DHS.pdf?docID=3102)
      • The House version of the Fiscal 2009 Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Appropriations Act contained 102 projects for a total of $120.1 million in this year’s House DHS BILL. The top 6 porkers are Reps. G.K. Butterfield (D-NC) with $15 million; Harold “Hal” Rogers (R-KY) with $13.4 million; and Robert Aderholt (R-AK), John Culberson (R-TX), Peter King (R-NY), and David Price (D-NC) with $6 million each. The following are some examples of pork that members of the House added to the Homeland Security BILL:
      • $24.9 million for 51 projects for Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Predisaster Mitigation by 56 members, spread among 26 states.
      • $22.1 million for 33 projects for FEMA State and Local Programs by 35 members, spread among 19 states.
      • $11 million by House Homeland Security Appropriations Subcommittee Ranking Member Harold Rogers (R-Ky.) for the National Institute for Hometown Security (NIHS). According to the Institute’s website, “NIHS is a private, non-profit 501 (c)3 corporation. NIHS was organized in 2004 through the leadership of Kentucky 5th District Congressman Harold “Hal” Rogers. Congressman Rogers suggested organizing the higher education institutions of Kentucky to more effectively compete for research funds and projects aimed at improving homeland security. The Kentucky Homeland Security University Consortium resulted from his efforts. NIHS is the administrative manager for the Consortium.”
      • $5 million by House Homeland Security Appropriations Subcommittee Chairman David Price (D-NC) for a study on the impact of climate on future disasters in the state of North Carolina.
      • $250,000 by House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) for a perimeter security and noise abatement study at the James J. Rowley Training Center in Maryland.
    • Homeland Security (www.cagw.org/site/News2?page=NewsArticle&id=11562)
      • The Senate version of the Fiscal 2009 Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Appropriations Act contains 17 projects for a total of $133 million. 92% of the total appropriated funds, or nearly $123 million, went to members of the Subcommittee. The following are some examples of pork that senators added to the Homeland Security BILL:
      • $39.7 million for the Advanced Training Center, which trains border agents, by Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Robert Byrd (D-W.Va.), although the Bush Administration has not requested funding to expand the center. Sen. Byrd requested and received the same amount for the project in fiscal year 2008.
      • $27 million by Senate Appropriations Committee Ranking Member Thad Cochran (R-Miss.), Senate Homeland Security Appropriations Subcommittee member Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.), and Sen. Roger Wicker (R-Miss.) for the Southeast Region Research Initiative in Tennessee. The website for this program has no white papers or reports of their research available, only project descriptions.
      • $22.3 million by Senate Appropriations Committee Ranking Member Thad Cochran (R-Miss.) for the National Center for Critical Information Processing and Storage in Mississippi, which “seeks to consolidate and safely store information critical to the operations of the federal government.”
      • $4.5 million by Senate Homeland Security Appropriations Subcommittee member Patty Murray (D-Wash.) for the 2010 Olympics Coordination Center in Bellingham, Washington. According to Sen. Murray’s website, the Center “would allow federal, state, and local officials to meet, prepare and coordinate a response to any incident from one location.” Although the Olympics will be held in Vancouver, Canada, “the Center would only be twenty-three miles away from the Canadian border, as opposed to 110 miles to Seattle or 155 miles to the Washington State Military Department.”
    • Interior (www.cagw.org/site/DocServer/House_Interior.pdf?docID=3104)
      • The House version of the Fiscal 2009 Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act contained 247 projects, costing taxpayers $134.9 million. Here are a few examples of wasteful spending that members of the House added into to the Interior and Environment Appropriations Act:
      • $4.2 million for seven projects by House Interior Subcommittee Chairman Norm Dicks (D-WA), including: $500,000 for the city of University Place for sewer infrastructure; $270,000 for a Hood Canal Dissolved Oxygen Study; and $200,000 for Mason County Courthouse restoration.
      • $1 million by House Interior Subcommittee member Tom Udall (D-NM) and Rep. Stephanie Herseth Sandlin (D-SD) for the Inter-Tribal Bison Cooperative. According to the National Bison Association, there are an estimated 20,000 bison remaining on public lands in the U.S. and Canada.
      • $500,000 by House Interior Subcommittee member Jo Ann Emerson (R-MO) for methamphetamine prevention in the Mark Twain National Forest.
      • $350,000 by Rep. John Dingell (D-MI), for the River Raisin Revolutionary War Battlefield. This battle took place in 1813, long after the Revolutionary War ended.
      • $150,000 by House appropriator Michael Simpson (R-Idaho) for the Rexburg Historic Westwood Theater. The theater’s website notes it was “Opened in 1917 as the Rex Theater and through the years had various owners and operators.” Additionally, “Although it is not on the National Register of Historic places, it is near the Madison County Courthouse which is on the Register.”
      • $150,000 by Rep. Bill Shuster (R-PA) for the Historic Mishler Theatre in Altoona, where the Holy Smoke Blues will be playing on August 15. Their performance will be preceded by a group of taxpayers singing the blues over the proliferation of pork in Washington.
    • Labor, Health & Human Services, and Education (www.cagw.org/site/DocServer/House_LHHS.pdf?docID=3121)
      • The House version of the Fiscal 2009 Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education Appropriations Act contained 1,370 earmarks worth a staggering $618.8 million of taxpayer money. This represents a 5% increase in number of projects, but a huge 122% increase in dollar amounts over the FY 2008 version, which had 1,305 earmarks costing $277.9 million. The top 3 porkers are as follows: Neil Abercrombie (D-HI), $168.5 million; Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), $161.3 million; and Stephanie Herseth Sandlin (D-SD), $148.5. The Labor/HHS bill is loaded with pork projects and wasteful spending from both Democrats and Republicans. A few examples are as follows.
      • $25 million by 30 House members (including the top three porkers in the bill) for the National Writing Project. The Department of Education (DoE) did not request the earmarked funds, since $3 billion already exists to improve the writing skills of professionally trained teachers. The program is described on the DoE website as a “sole source, noncompetitive award, by direction of Congress.”
      • $175,000 by House appropriator Adam Schiff (D-Ca.), Howard “Buck” McKeon (R-CA), and Mary Bono (R-CA) for the Autry National Center for the American West, which “explores the experiences and perceptions of the diverse peoples of the American West,” according to its website.
      • $150,000 by Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-NY) for the American Ballet Theatre in New York for “educational activities.” According to its website, “As of May 2008, over 65 donors have contributed a total of $28 million during the campaign’s private drive.”
      • $100,000 by House appropriator Marcy Kaptur (D-Ohio) for the Toledo GROWS High School Garden Learning Initiative, a “community gardening outreach program.” According to their website, “Community gardens are safe, beautiful outdoor spaces on public or private lands, where neighbors meet to grow and care for vegetables, flowers and native plant species. The gardeners take initiative and responsibility for organizing, maintaining and managing the garden area.”

    Legislative Branch:

    • Military Construction (www.cagw.org/site/DocServer/House_Mil_Con.pdf?docID=3105)
      • The House version of the Fiscal 2009 Military Construction Appropriations Act contains 102 projects for a total of $621.3 million. The enacted version of the fiscal 2008 Military Construction Appropriations Act included 191 projects worth $1.2 billion. The House bill is bursting at the seams with wasteful pet projects:
      • $18.4 million added by House Military Construction Appropriations Subcommittee Chairman Rep. Chet Edwards (D-Tex.), including $17.5 million for a chapel and education center at Fort Hood.
      • $11.58 million for a fitness center in Kingsville, Texas, added by Rep. Solomon Ortiz (D-Tex.). There is a private gym four miles away that costs $30 per month, with a $35 initiation fee. This $11.58 million could pay for the gym memberships of 29,300 service men and women for one year.
      • $9.9 million added by Rep. John Spratt, Jr. (D-S.C.) for a physical fitness center at Shaw Air Force Base. There is a gym four miles away that charges $25 per month, with a $75 down payment. This $9.9 million could pay for the gym memberships of 26,400 service men and women for one year.
      • $6.8 million added by Rep. Terry Everett (R-Ala.) for a chapel center at Fort Rucker, Alabama, which already has two separate chapels on its campus.
      • $3.9 million added by Reps. Robert Scott (D-Va.) and Robert Wittman (R-Va.) for a vehicle paint facility at Fort Eustis, Virginia.

    Transportation/Housing and Urban Development:

    • The Senate version of the Fiscal 2009 Transportation and Housing and Urban Development (THUD) Act (www.cagw.org/site/News2?page=NewsArticle&id=11570).
      • There are 601 projects for a total of $906.2 million in this 2009 Senate BILL. The dollar amount of the most notorious depository of pork in THUD, the Economic Development Initiative program, decreased 16.2% from $123.5 million in the fiscal 2008 version of the Senate bill to $103.5 million for fiscal 2009. The top 5 porkers are Senate THUD Appropriations Subcommittee member Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ) with $85.4 million; Senator Robert Menendez (D-NJ) with $83.9 million; Senate THUD Appropriations Subcommittee Chairwoman Patty Murray (D-WA) with $56.3 million; Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Robert Byrd (D-WV) with $51.4 million; and Senate Appropriations Committee Ranking Member Thad Cochran (R-MS) with $51.1 million. The following are examples of pork added to the BILL:
      • $1,000,000 by Senator Charles Schumer (D-NY) for the development of a pedestrian bridge in Poughkeepsie.
      • $700,000 by Sens. Christopher Dodd (D-CT) and Joseph Lieberman (I-Conn.) for waterproofing activities in basement-level storage areas at the Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art. Considered to be one of the dozen greatest art museums in the country, the Wadsworth Atheneum reported a fund balance of $106 million at the end of 2006.
      • $500,000 by Senate THUD Appropriations Subcommittee member Robert Bennett (R-UT) and Senator Orrin Hatch (R-UT) for a parking facility in Provo.
      • $200,000 by Sens. Edward Kennedy (D-MA) and John Kerry (D-MA) for renovation of the Berkshire Theatre Festival’s facilities and grounds. In June, 2008 the theatre received a $10,000 grant from the National Endowment for the Arts for its production of Waiting for Godot. How apt, when fiscal discipline in Congress has become as elusive as Godot.

    If you’d like to see more, just let me know, since that list above is only the tiny tip of the massive pork-barrel iceberg full, among tens of thousands of earmarks costing tens or hundreds of billions per year.

    In a crisis, is that sort of spending what you would call responsible?

    At any rate, the voters have the government that the voters elect (and re-elect, and re-elect, and re-elect , … , at least until that finally becomes too painful).

    Posted by: d.a.n at March 1, 2009 11:23 AM
    Comment #276483

    David R. Remer-
    The Republicans are supplying about 40% of the earmarks. Doesn’t excuse what the Democrats are contributing, but I think its best to review what the Earmarks are for. An Earmark isn’t necessarily an evil thing by itself. It became the favorite means by some to make under the table pork deals, but all it basically is, is a request by the congressman or Senator for what the folks might want done with taxpayer dollars. Review the use of those earmarks, and you’ll find what is legitimate and what is not.

    I think there’s an open question as to whether the Democratic congress is doing well, but I think if we keep up this game of throwing around generalized accusations without defining the problem in greater detail, we’ll be unable to do anything real to hold people accountable.

    Or put another way: if you can tell a voter about a particular earmark, like the Bridge To Nowhere, or the Coconut Road development, then its easier to capture the imagination and persuade people to think about them. Otherwise its a vague fog which brings insubstantial motivation to political change.

    I am not going to kid myself that my Congress is immune to corruption, but neither am I going to convince myself that I can simply rely on buzzwords and slogans. This is a battle of narrative, more than anything else. The convincing story wins.

    Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at March 1, 2009 11:50 AM
    Comment #276498

    Stephen D. said: “The Republicans are supplying about 40% of the earmarks.”

    One wrong does not justify another.

    Stephen D. said: “Doesn’t excuse what the Democrats are contributing…”

    Quite right. That pretty much says it all, unless one wishes to go on excuse Democrats anyway.

    And yes, Earmarks are not inherently wasteful, fraudulent, or abusive of other American’s tax dollars. But, our nation is in a recession, must invest in present and future economic growth potential, and maintain essential federal government services. Now is no time FOR DEMOCRATS or Republicans to be introducing earmarks that DO NOT meet these needs of the nation, and any Earmark which does not meet these needs, DOES constitute wasteful, fraudulent, and abusive potential spending.

    There is no rational way of getting around the inherent reality and logic of our situation and current operational definition of waste, fraud, and abuse as I have outlined. And Pres. Obama has many times alluded to the same on the campaign trail in the White House these last several weeks.

    Question is: Will Obama veto a Congressional Democratically sponsored budget bill loaded with waste, fraud, and abuse by his own Party. I don’t think we have more than a couple of months to find out for sure the answer to that question.

    Posted by: David R. Remer at March 1, 2009 4:25 PM
    Comment #276532

    >Question is: Will Obama veto a Congressional Democratically sponsored budget bill loaded with waste, fraud, and abuse by his own Party. I don’t think we have more than a couple of months to find out for sure the answer to that question.
    Posted by: David R. Remer at March 1, 2009 04:25 PM

    DRR,

    His veto is unlikely. He inherited the budget and the problem. He has voiced his aversions to loading budgets up with pork and earmarks.

    In all likelihood the proposed budget will pass and vetoes will go forward on future balls. I don’t see the gain from picking this particular fight…what would such a fight gain against the political capital lost? He who fights then runs away, lives to fight another day…

    Posted by: Marysdude at March 2, 2009 3:47 AM
    Comment #276543

    Marysdude,
    Seeing that the budget loaded with pork is for 2008 I do wish that President Obama would veto it and take a page out of the Clinton Playbook and shutdown the Governent. However, knowing that the idea would be seen by My Peers as to radical I do believe that President Obama could gain political points for a veto that would have Congress address the Pork Issue.

    For why one mans pork is another mans meal, I do believe that both the Republicans and Blue Dog Democrats would lose the battle of fiscal responsibility. Since the Budget of 2008 should only have the bear basics expenses funded I do believe that two birds with one shot may be worth the political capital.

    Besides, I do think it would be fun to watch Congress stay in session like they did in 95’ all summer long.

    Posted by: Henry Schlatman at March 2, 2009 9:35 AM
    Comment #276552

    David R. Remer-
    Let’s first have a conversation about what is so wasteful, fraudulent and abusive, specifically. Suspicion of Washington is generalized and endemic. Simply saying “earmarks” and pointing at something isn’t enough.

    Let’s first nip something dangerously stupid in the bud: the spending bill with the earmarks attached is not the same as the stimulus bill.

    So, proceeding from that, let’s consider another question: what constitutes wasteful spending? Unfortunately, that definition for some can be so vague and non-specific than even spending to good effect is slapped with the label of porkbarrel. The way dan defines it:

    At least 1 of the following 7 criteria are used to define the following below as pork-barrel: ◦(1) Requested by only one chamber of Congress; ◦(2) Not specifically authorized; ◦(3) Not competitively awarded; ◦(4) Not requested by the President; ◦(5) Greatly exceeds the President’s budget request or the previous year’s funding; ◦(6) Not the subject of congressional hearings; or ◦(7) Serves only a local or special interest.

    At least one. It serves the purpose of creating a category of porkbarrel, but does it truly define it, define what is inherently wasteful spending?

    We need better criteria than that, if not the chucking of criteria for more detailed examination.

    Dan’s response to Rep. Regula’s earmark for a Solid Oxide Fuel System research at Rolls Royce is an example. It might just be wasteful, and a bit of an uncompetitive appropriation.

    However, he’s working under some mistaken notions. First, the Rolls Royce company in questionis not the famed car company. Second, The reference in that case is to a kind of fuel cell, one which might be used in cars, but which in this case would probably refer to a hybrid gas turbine design for power plants.

    Should we be funding this? Doing it this way? I don’t know. But we shouldn’t enter the discussion ill-informed, simply reacting without looking past superficial details. Some earmarks are good ideas, and should be allowed to stand, but others deserved to be squashed, and those who offered them put to shame. But you have to understand the nature of the earmark and what makes it useful or wasteful, before you can make a substantive argument whose punch won’t be pulled by mitigating facts.

    Take the River Raisin Battlefield issue. (I think it’s called the Raisin National Battlefield or something like that) What was the money for?

    The Statutory or Contractual Aid activity provides Federal funds, which are often matched, to State and local governments and private organizations to operate, manage, interpret and preserve resources at affiliated areas.

    Okay, but who’s getting the money? What’s its use?

    All too often, folks on the right are more intent on critiquing the other side than examining what’s really going on. They run their fingers down the page, and go, “that sounds like something we can rag on them for!” And so they do. Without going so far as to actually examine the facts, these critics may in fact do more harm than good. Earmarks are a part of Congress’s appropriation powers, the congress essentially telling those who might otherwise do as they please with the money in the executive branch what the money will be spent for. It can be good, or it can be bad. If y’all asked whether reform should occur, I’d say yes. If you asked me whether earmarks should be removed, I’m not sure that you could, or even should. Should it be entirely illegal for Congress to specify the use of tax dollars?

    Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at March 2, 2009 11:06 AM
    Comment #276565

    d.a.n. wrote; “If you’d like to see more, just let me know, since that list above is only the tiny tip of the massive pork-barrel iceberg full, among tens of thousands of earmarks costing tens or hundreds of billions per year.”

    Thank you very much d.a.n. for the research. It is indeed eye-popping. I am surprised that there is no pork for prostitutes. Surely they could use some help with their wardrobe and that would create jobs.

    For many on these blogs there is no such thing as pork as they simply justify any government spending as a job creator. Never mind that the wages for these “jobs” come directly out of another persons pocket.

    I am still waiting for some big-spending liberal to tell me which government agencies are in need of help as PO says we need up to 800,000 more government workers. What duly authorized government departments and programs are under-staffed? Which government employees are working overtime to get the job done?

    Posted by: Jim M at March 2, 2009 1:46 PM
    Comment #276568

    Perhaps the 800,00 additional government jobs will be in the three things we’ve managed to ignore for so long, i.e., education, energy and health care…the very three things that might help salvage our economy…the very three things that might bring us back on line with or in front of the other industrialized nations? And don’t forget the banks we seem to be buying as we go along…

    Posted by: Marysdude at March 2, 2009 2:12 PM
    Comment #276569

    Daugherty writes; “But we shouldn’t enter the discussion ill-informed, simply reacting without looking past superficial details. Some earmarks are good ideas, and should be allowed to stand, but others deserved to be squashed, and those who offered them put to shame. But you have to understand the nature of the earmark and what makes it useful or wasteful, before you can make a substantive argument whose punch won’t be pulled by mitigating facts.”

    Sorry Daugherty, but the decision as to what constitutes “pork” lies with congress. Pork has now become the new means of barter within that body. Justification for spending money is not required, just a tit-for-tat mentality. Many in congress view the budget as simply a huge pie to be divided and slopped to their constituency in return for votes.

    Pork spending is totally out of control today as it has been in the past with both parties swilling for votes. And, much of the electorate demands even more pork as they are so stupid as to believe that it’s free. Even as the tax revenue for supporting discretionary spending diminishes each year as the big three social programs grow politicians insist upon spending even more. Today, we are thrown a few scraps from the table called middle-class tax cuts. Tomorrow, we will pay dearly for the long-forgotten scanty meal.

    Posted by: Jim M at March 2, 2009 2:14 PM
    Comment #276571

    Marysdude writes; “Perhaps the 800,00 additional government jobs will be in the three things we’ve managed to ignore for so long, i.e., education, energy and health care…”

    As one who apparently understands the plans and motives of PO and his liberal congress, could you possibly do better than guessing? When you know for certain, please provide the link.

    To say that we have ignored “education, energy and health care…” is just more liberal hyperbole. Take a look at the increase in the budgets of these federal agencies. My God man, if their budgets are examples of being ignored…let us pray in continues.

    Posted by: Jim M at March 2, 2009 2:27 PM
    Comment #276573
    Stephen Daugherty wrote: So, proceeding from that, let’s consider another question: what constitutes wasteful spending? Unfortunately, that definition for some can be so vague and non-specific than even spending to good effect is slapped with the label of porkbarrel.
    Yes, yes. We know. If it came out of the 111th Congress, it can’t possibly be pork-barrel.
    Stephen Daugherty wrote: d.a.n’s response to Rep. Regula’s earmark for a Solid Oxide Fuel System research at Rolls Royce is an example. It might just be wasteful, and a bit of an uncompetitive appropriation. However, he’s working under some mistaken notions. First, the Rolls Royce company in questionis not the famed car company.
    HMMMmmmm … you may be right about which division of the Roll Royce, but think about this. That is $1.34 Million dollars going to a foreign (British) corporation for research. First of all, which can’t these corporations (especially foreign corporations) fund their own damn research? Second, if the tax payers are going to fund such research, why not fund General Electric or some other American based corporation?
    Stephen Daugherty wrote: Should we be funding this? Doing it this way? I don’t know.
    But you still try to defend that and a long, long list of other pork-barrel. Do you seriously think there’s no pork-barrel in the Stimulus BILL and the Fiscal Year 2009 Appropriations Budget? Please continue down that path and I will be more than happy to post pork-barrel after pork-barrel project in the months to come and you can try as you might to defend each, looking more and more ridiculous as the pork-barrel becomes more and more laughable.
    Stephen Daugherty wrote: But we shouldn’t enter the discussion ill-informed, simply reacting without looking past superficial details. Some earmarks are good ideas, and should be allowed to stand, but others deserved to be squashed, and those who offered them put to shame.
    “Put to shame”? Yet you just tried to defend $1.35 Million for research by a foreign (British) company, instead of a U.S. corporation. You tried hard to find some little flaw in the facts , yet totally ignored the fact that U.S. tax payers money is being used to fund research by foreign bassed corporations instead of locallly U.S. based corporations.
    Stephen Daugherty wrote: But you have to understand the nature of the earmark and what makes it useful or wasteful, before you can make a substantive argument whose punch won’t be pulled by mitigating facts.
    Ohhhhh … that’s right. We need to create a Congressional Committee to look into that, and then 10 sub-committees to assist, and perhaps spend a few hundred Billion dollars to perform an independent research, and then reconvene after a few years, so that they can start all over again?
    Stephen Daugherty wrote: Take the River Raisin Battlefield issue. (I think it’s called the Raisin National Battlefield or something like that) What was the money for? The Statutory or Contractual Aid activity provides Federal funds, which are often matched, to State and local governments and private organizations to operate, manage, interpret and preserve resources at affiliated areas. Okay, but who’s getting the money? What’s its use?
    It is for the preservation of the River Raisin Battlefield, which was the site of a major engagement of the War of 1812.

    Is it necessary spending in this crisis? No.

    But then, you already wrote …

    Stephen Daugherty wrote: d.a.n-I don’t see pork barrel there [in FEB-2009 Stimulus BILL], [only] little projects just meant to appeal to a base back home.

    Take off the partisan blinders. The pork-barrel is rampant. What makes you think it would be any different with the 111th Congress when 86.9% of it came from the 110th Congress.

    Stephen Daugherty wrote: All too often, folks on the right are more intent on critiquing the other side than examining what’s really going on.
    Nonsense. The real problem is the two extremes in this nation:
    • Category [1] One extreme wants unfettered capitalism and freedom to explore and wallow in every manifestation of unchecked greed (which we have seen plenty of lately).
    • Category [2] The other extreme wants a nanny-state with citizens increasingly dependent on the government; with massive cradle-to-grave government programs (which are usually severely mismanaged) that nuture a sense of entitlement and dependency on government; wants to grow government ever larger (despite the already current nightmare proportions); rewards failure and laziness; and perpetuates the myth that we can somehow all live at the expense of everyone else.
    Chops’ comment appears to adhere to the philosophy of Category [1]. Which do you belong to?
    Stephen Daugherty wrote: They run their fingers down the page, and go, “that sounds like something we can rag on them for!” And so they do. Without going so far as to actually examine the facts, these critics may in fact do more harm than good. Earmarks are a part of Congress’s appropriation powers, the Congress essentially telling those who might otherwise do as they please with the money in the executive branch what the money will be spent for. It can be good, or it can be bad. If y’all asked whether reform should occur, I’d say yes. If you asked me whether earmarks should be removed, I’m not sure that you could, or even should.
    Of course not. Not now, eh?

    Funny how pork-barrel isn’t pork-barrel when it comes from one’s own party.
    I hammered pork-barrel by the 110th Congress and will do the same with the 111th Congress, and I don’t give a damn which party is the IN-PARTY. Wasteful spending is despicable at this time, yet it continues not only as before, but its escalating. Politicians are not wasting this crisis as an opportunity to pork-up every BILL coming out of Congress. And Obama isn’t vetoing it. Imagine that.

    Stephen Daugherty wrote: Should it be entirely illegal for Congress to specify the use of tax dollars?
    That’s just great. Go ahead and carry it to the most illogical conclusion possible.

    So what about all of that other spending?
    You took a stab at the pork-barrel for Rolls Royce and River Raisin Battlefield, and failed miserably.
    What else do you have to say about that list of pork-barrel in the Fiscal Year 2009 Appropriations Budget or the FEB-2009 Stimulus BILL?

    Apparently from your comments above, you don’t think any of the following is pork-barrel and irresponsible spending:

    • $650 million for digital-TV coupons; $90 million to educate “vulnerable populations”;

    • $50 million for the National Endowment for the Arts;

    • $150 million for the Smithsonian museum;

    • $34 million to renovate the Department of Commerce headquarters; the department that wants to end e-Verify?

    • $44 million for repairs to Department of Agriculture headquarters;;

    • $350 million for Agriculture Department computers;

    • $1 billion for the Census Bureau; will that include 12-to-20+ illegal aliens?

    • $850 million for Amtrak, the federal railroad that hasn’t turned a profit in 40 years;

    • $1.7 billion for the National Park System;

    • $55 million for Historic Preservation Fund;

    • $7.6 billion for “rural community advancement programs”;

    • $150 million for agricultural-commodity purchases;

    • $400 million for hybrid cars for state and local governments;

    • $8 billion for innovative-technology loan-guarantee program;

    • $2.4 billion for carbon-capture demonstration projects;

    • $54 Billion for federal programs that the Office of Management and Budget or the Government Accountability Office have already criticized as “ineffective” or unable to pass basic financial audits.

    • $87 million for a polar icebreaking ship;

    Apparently from your comments above, it doesn’t matter what type of jobs are created, eh?

    Jim M wrote: Thank you very much d.a.n. for the research. It is indeed eye-popping.
    Thanks Jim M. It’s truly ridiculous isn’t it? All of a sudden, pork-barrel isn’t pork-barrel anymore? The lengths some are going to now to defend porky spending is laughable.
    Jim M wrote: I am surprised that there is no pork for prostitutes. Surely they could use some help with their wardrobe and that would create jobs.
    Me too. The original stimulus BILL had money in it for condoms, but it caused so much ire that it was removed from the BILL.
    Jim M wrote: For many on these blogs there is no such thing as pork as they simply justify any government spending as a job creator.
    Well, it actually depends on which party is the current IN-PARTY. I’ve consistently bashed pork-barrel. Each side agrees on what is pork-barrel until THEIR party is the new IN-PARTY.
    Jim M wrote: Never mind that the wages for these “jobs” come directly out of another persons pocket.
    Right. We can’t all ride in the wagon. Some one has to push too. The bloat and waste is at nightmare proportions, yet some still find ways to justify the pork-barrel and waste at at a time when we most likely can not afford it; not with so much crushing debt.

    At any rate, the voters have the government that the voters elect (and re-elect, and re-elect, and re-elect , … , at least until that finally becomes too painful).

    Posted by: d.a.n at March 2, 2009 2:32 PM
    Comment #276586

    Jim M. said: “To say that we have ignored “education, energy and health care…” is just more liberal hyperbole.”

    Not when America ranks 26th amongst modern nations in educational knowledge upon high school graduation. Not when nearly 70% of our energy oil consumption dollars are sent to foreign sellers, some of whom have no love for seeing American influence in the world grow. Not when 47 million Americans are forced to Emergency Rooms at the highest possible cost premium to tax payers and insurance rate payers.

    I am impressed with the agility in your comment to so easily dispense with reality in order to formulate your position.

    Posted by: David R. Remer at March 2, 2009 4:21 PM
    Comment #276587

    d.a.n, define pork. Then define Earmark, please. I no longer have any clue as to what you mean by these terms, and whether they are synonymous in your usage.

    Posted by: David R. Remer at March 2, 2009 4:24 PM
    Comment #276588

    Mr. Remer, if merely throwing dollars at education would make us #1 in the world that would have happened years ago. More money for our failing schools is not the answer. That makes no more sense than your argument on another post that by spending more a family can escape bankruptcy. Cut government spending, use our education money more efficiently and we can solve these problems.

    Plenty of government and private money is already being spent on alternative energy. In the meantime I would like to see more support for additional use of our own resources, more nuclear energy and more clean coal. I really don’t care about the MMGW scare tactic which is just another way to relieve taxpayers of their hard-earned money.

    Eliminate all the illegals tapping into our health care system and then we’ll have a serious talk.

    Posted by: Jim M at March 2, 2009 4:37 PM
    Comment #276599

    Jim M, if just handing out money equalled education, we wouldn’t need schools at all. Your red herring straw man argument is flawed as usual.

    Perhaps you went to college for free. I didn’t. It cost me the energy and effort of working full time while going to school in addition to my GI Bill benefits to stay out of poverty and graduate.

    Yes, Jim M, education costs money. Too little money, and education suffers. Check out the correlation between family income and grades in school. Check out the condition of the schools in the Mississippi Delta. Yeah, I know, I shouldn’t confuse your prose with reality or facts. Sorry, about that. Can’t help myself.

    Of course, education requires a great deal more than just money. But, money is a foundation for education and throughout the history of modern civilizations, higher education was reserved for those with higher wealth. Interesting correlation, don’t you think? Whether you think so or not, it is relevant.

    Have you ever pondered in dollars the opportunity cost of getting an education to family industry and wealth accrual? It was an enormous debate at the end of the 19th century and beginning of the 20th, whether children should be forced away from family industry and income producing into schools for a primary education. There are many dollar costs associated with education, not just the cost of teacher salaries or reliable building infrastructure conducive to a learning environment in this modern society of technical and industrial innovation at breakneck speed.

    Posted by: David R. Remer at March 2, 2009 5:53 PM
    Comment #276605
    David R. Remer wrote: d.a.n, define pork. Then define Earmark, please. I no longer have any clue as to what you mean by these terms, and whether they are synonymous in your usage.
    I already did 3 times (twice yesterday): But here they are again. This is the criteria used to define pork-barrel by Citizens Against Government Waste (CAGW.org’s).
      At least 1 of the following 7 criteria are used to define the following below as pork-barrel:
      • (1) Requested by only one chamber of Congress;
      • (2) Not specifically authorized;
      • (3) Not competitively awarded;
      • (4) Not requested by the President;
      • (5) Greatly exceeds the President’s budget request or the previous year’s funding;
      • (6) Not the subject of congressional hearings; or
      • (7) Serves only a local or special interest.
    I would add at least one more thing to the list.
    • (8) Any BILL Congress didn’t even bother to read.

    Number (8) might seem unnecessary, up until mid FEB-2008, when most in Congress could not have possibly read all 1,000 pages of the BILL before voting on it.
    So the game now is to play dumb about what pork-barrel is?

    At a time like this, what do you think pork-barrel is?

    I would think it is any unnecessary spending not targeted at solving the nation’s most pressing problems.

    Also, this economic crisis can not be solved only with spending.
    Especially if that spending includes growing the already-massive debt larger.

    At any rate, the voters have the government that the voters elect (and re-elect, and re-elect, and re-elect , … , at least until that finally becomes too painful).

    Posted by: d.a.n at March 2, 2009 7:17 PM
    Comment #276608

    Jim M.,
    I’ll give you 800,000 government jobs and raise you another million under one Domain. For can you say that America could not use an additional 1.8 million new jobs in our National Security?

    Yes, you can debate the need for new jobs in education, energy, and health; however, with America unable to maintain to war fronts, provide security for our borders, or even keep the local gangs in check I do believe that you would be hard press to say that The Establishment can afford to cut jobs in this sector.

    And why I do not agree with the 2008 Budget loaded with pork I wonder if the Left and/or Right is willing to shut down the entire government until September over their Elected Officials giving pet projects the funds sought by their supporters. No, this budget should get a veto by President Obama on Principles IMHO; neverheless, not wanting to get Congress side tracked on a policy that throughout our history has served the Individual and State Interests. I do believe that the Conservatives and Liberals need to rethink their objection to so-called Pork.

    For if the No-Nothing Party of Today would care to explore our history they would find that Congress spending the Taxpayer Dollar is nothing new and has assisted in our national growth. However, taking a lesson from History should these so-called Pork Projects be funded by the Federal Taxes collected under Americas’ Democratic and republican Leadership or as Americas’ Ancestors and Forefathers did years ago by the selling of Treasury Notes? Changing that process in this Debt Burdened Budget cannot be done overnight; nevertheless, it can be done if the Conservatives and Liberals would stop the Blame Game and attack the problem of the issue IMHO.

    Posted by: Henry Schlatman at March 2, 2009 8:04 PM
    Comment #276632

    Dan-
    I personally can read over a thousand pages in the course of a day or two. Take five days, and you’ll have to read 200 pages a day. Or take a few staffers, have them read particular sections, make overall reports.

    Nobody could this, nobody could that. Do you realize that these were just excuses here? That they had plenty of opportunity to read this stuff? I don’t see the good in taking Republican talking points on face value with this. Somebody decided they were just going to stonewall Obama, and they did, as a party.

    You fling around words like pork and earmarks too easily, and fail to understand just how difficult that seven point standard is to avoid, even with legitimate legislation.

    What makes something pork, what makes an Earmark bad, is not in some checklist. It’s in the net effects of the provision. It’s not that I don’t accept the reality that many of my party’s members of congress contributed earmarks to this spending bill. It’s not even that I somehow see Democrat Earmarks as superior or inoffensive where Republican ones are an abomination before God.

    No, it’s that I’m too much a veteran witness of political strategy to let anybody just claim something without having to prove it. Be too unskeptical, and your zeal becomes a weapon for those who just want to score political points against the other side. True independence is not being equally credulous with the claims of both sides

    Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at March 2, 2009 11:14 PM
    Comment #276634

    Like I wrote to David in another thread …

    This discussion pretty much demonstrates why we are probably screwed big time.

    Perhaps we should create a Congressional Committee to research the meaning of pork-barrel, and then create 10 sub-committees to assist, and perhaps spend a few hundred Billion dollar$ to perform an independent research, and then reconvene after a few years, so then start all over again?

    By the time there’s any agreement on what pork barrel is, it won’t matter.

    At any rate, the voters have the government that the voters elect, and re-elect, and re-elect, and re-elect , … , at least until that finally becomes too painful.

    Posted by: d.a.n at March 2, 2009 11:18 PM
    Comment #276638

    David wrote,

    “But, money is a foundation for education and throughout the history of modern civilizations, higher education was reserved for those with higher wealth. Interesting correlation, don’t you think?”

    As every intro stats course teaches us, “correlation does not necessarily imply causation.” There has been innumberable studies that have looked at this correlation over the past few decades that have found that while the correlation between wealth and educational attainment is strong, it is weaker than many other factors.

    The strongest correlation is that of educational attainment of parents and their children. That is practically speaking the children of well-educated “poor” will attain similar or better educations than the children of poorly-educated “rich” (rich and poor in the case are relative and not absolute definitions). Research into why this correlation is stronger than others lead to the concept of “cultural capital” to explain this phenomenum. It basically says that if you are the child of a well-educated parent, you are more likely to have experiences that will make learning easier.

    Vast amounts of energy has been and is still being put into trying to determine ways to close the “cultural capital” gap. There are a number of interesting ideas out there on both sides of the political spectrum to accomplish this. But the important implication for this discussion is that forcing money into the educational system alone will likely not in and of itself pay any major dividends.

    That is not to say that it may not be helpful, but it will not have anywhere near a dollar for dollar impact. Instead, it will need to be coupled with other initiatives that will lead to a broader dispersion of cultural capital. These include things as varied as promoting mixed income development, decreasing single-parent households, increasing adult literacy, and increasing access and making more attractive culturally rich environments like museums or even internet and PC access.

    There is no doubt that many of these initiatives will take money. But there is not magic formula. Knowing which levers to press the hardest is by no means a known quantity at this point. The multi-disciplinary approach needed to evaluate and prioritize the options makes the Federal Government with it’s siloed approach an unlikely candidate to succeed. A related problem is that the right lever in Ohama may have very little to no impact in Atlanta. State and Local Governments have a better shot, but they are generally speaking not well equipped enough to master the complexities either.

    I personally think that Research Universities in combination with the State and Local Governments are most likely to get this right for individual locales. However, when the political necessity is that the issues must be boiled down to the sound-bites in order to garner support, we are more likely to get “We need to fix schools so that they don’t have to stop teaching six times a day while the train runs through.” or “We need to spend more money so that we can hire better teachers even if that means firing some.” or “No Child Left Behind” than comprehensive approaches to complex problems.

    I don’t particularly fault either the former or the current President for their attempts to crystalize puplic opinion for thier approaches to solving the dilemma of U.S. Education being #26; they can only speak to the level that the electorate is willing to engage, and there is no real long-term political will on these issues beyond hard-core researches and educators (which is why I think that they should get the chance to fix it). If there were, we would not hesitate to try to understand the relevant issues with the same academic rigor that we argue economic multipliers, the National Ammendment Convention provisions of the Constiution, or the semantics of pork vs. earmarks.

    In closing Mr. Remer, I apologize in advance for the overly pedantic nature of the above because I’m quite certain that you know and understand most of what’s been outlined here, but I thought that it bears repeating in more details for the group as a whole.

    Posted by: Rob at March 3, 2009 2:07 AM
    Comment #276650

    Rob,

    Good post. Let me quibble with something, though.

    I personally think that Research Universities in combination with the State and Local Governments are most likely to get this right for individual locales. However, when the political necessity is that the issues must be boiled down to the sound-bites in order to garner support, we are more likely to get “We need to fix schools so that they don’t have to stop teaching six times a day while the train runs through.” or “We need to spend more money so that we can hire better teachers even if that means firing some.” or “No Child Left Behind” than comprehensive approaches to complex problems.
    I live in a community where the second largest employer is Sam Houston State University. That school is one of the largest educators of educators in the state of Texas. That said the university’s leadership of education is so poor that the vast majority of new professors make their residence in either Conroe or the Woodlands, 30 and 45 miles away, respectively, to get away from Huntsville schools.

    This is an apalling abdication of personal responsibility by the very group of people who claim to have the most authoritative voice in the area of education. Education will not be fixed by money. Neither it, nor anything else, will be fixed by a ‘professionalization of caring’. We are quickly developing a culture in which the hard things are left to others whom we pay to do the dirty work.

    Want to fix education or anything else? Do what you know to do yourself rather than paying some impersonal, professionalized flunkie to do it for you.

    Posted by: Lee Jamison at March 3, 2009 10:23 AM
    Comment #276658

    Lee,
    I’ll take you one better, At least have enough Common Knowledge so that if you have to hire a so-called Professional you can atleast know what they say is right or the Common Sense to find a Friend that can. For I do believe that My Peers will never agree to an Education System where Their Children are encouraged to question the Authority of their Teachers on all of the Subjects.

    Posted by: Henry Schlatman at March 3, 2009 11:45 AM
    Comment #276685

    Lee, withdraw ALL money for education from all levels of government. Do you really believe education quality would remain the same?

    Money is vital to education, as is sound teaching methodology and information, willing students, and a safe and secure environment which permits students to focus on learning materials.

    The implication of your argument that money will not improve education is absurd. Take the money away from education and the obvious absurdity of your argument becomes readily apparent.

    Or, try comparing the educational quality of a Mississippi Delta elementary school with an elementary school in let’s say, a Dallas wealthy district. Why you continue to try to make such an absurd argument work, is beyond me.

    The best argument you can make which is demonstrably true, is that increasing money in education does reach a saturation point of diminishing return. But, that applies to well funded school districts, not low income low education funded school districts whose security issues, classroom materials issues, building functionality issues, and teacher resource issues can, and will, all benefit from increased money, in turn improving the educational content and environment conducive and even enticing to student learning taking place.

    Posted by: David R. Remer at March 3, 2009 6:25 PM
    Comment #276686

    Henry, questioning authority is nothing more than asking authority to provide their rationale and supporting evidence. Questioning authority does not mean disrespecting authority, nor not trusting authority. It means trust, respect, and verify to insure trust and respect are warranted.

    I see no grounds for disagreement on this in our educational systems save for some authoritarian types who mask their inadequacies by asserting authority with threat and intimidation. A person deserving of authority has nothing to fear from those questioning sources for it.

    Posted by: David R. Remer at March 3, 2009 6:31 PM
    Comment #276689

    Rob, you ignore the obvious.

    School buildings cost money to build and operate and maintain. Teachers require salaries to make themselves available to teach. Supply and demand math states that higher salaries will attract better qualified candidates from other fields with less high salaries. A hungry child does not learn as efficiently as a fed child. A confident child learns more than a scared child fearing for their security in and around the classroom. Security mechanisms cost money.

    You play a game of sophistry and omit the obvious and empirically observable to all in order to make a case that is flawed on its face.

    Money is a foundation for education, without which public and standardized education in a society cannot take place.

    Try not to overlook the obvious when attempting to make a point which contradicts common sense and experience. This lesson only appears free. A great deal of money was expended to transmit this lesson from teacher to student across the internet representing 100’s of millions of dollars in equipment and infrastructure.

    Your welcome.

    Posted by: David R. Remer at March 3, 2009 6:40 PM
    Comment #276690

    d.a.n said: “By the time there’s any agreement on what pork barrel is, it won’t matter.”

    But without a consensus on what it is, it cannot be targeted from removal from budgets, can it?

    But, hey, there is an alternative that sidesteps the whole pork definition conundrum.

    Define the purpose of a bill, then define any spending that does not match the purpose of that bill by a majority vote in the markup process, as spending to be excluded. One catch, the markup process must be public and taped for review on the internet for all to see, as must be the title and stated purpose of the Bill.

    That is where Obama’s political reforms are heading. It will be an interesting wrestling match between Obama and the Congress. Obama and his bully pulpit, and Congress without a leg to stand on, save their self-aggrandizing mailings to constituent’s at tax payer’s expense.

    Posted by: David R. Remer at March 3, 2009 6:51 PM
    Comment #276695

    d.a.n defined pork as: “I would think it is any unnecessary spending not targeted at solving the nation’s most pressing problems.”

    OK, YOU are not in Congress. Who in Congress defines ‘unnecessary’ and by who else’s criteria? Who defines the ‘solution’ as the test by which the term ‘unnecessary’ is defined, as opposed to other proposals which are cast out as ‘non-solutions’.

    And lastly, who in Congress defines which are the nation’s most pressing problems and which are lesser to be ignored at the cost of other representative’s constituents?

    I am not trying to be cute, here. These questions are the very ones that plague the Congressional process in coming to a consensus on what constitutes pork and what does not.

    You continue to assume that pork spending is some simple thing everyone can agree on and define.

    That assumption could not be more wrong. In the real world of federal appropriations, defining pork has no consensus, and no definition exists which Congress can agree upon.

    In other words, barking up the ‘pork’ tree as a solution to what ails Congressional spending is futile. You have to bypass the entire pork issue somehow, and address the issue of how spending is determined by Congress as effective or wasteful form another approach.

    One person’s pork is another person’s livlihood. You cannot achieve an operational guideline for effective spending by willy nilly allowing every Congress person to define what pork or wasteful spending is in the context of a particular appropriations bill. That only yields the appropriation process we already have. Republicans decrying Democrat’s spending as pork, and Democrat’s decrying Republican’s spending as pork, and both sides walking away with pork by consensus.

    You need a definition, defined not by Congress persons, but, some other entity whose definition is accepted with authority and respect. The only potential entity with that potential power to define effective vs. wasteful, as far as I can see, is the President.

    And the president would do so by drafting an initial budget proposal, and if they are an effective president, using the bully pulpit to garner a public consensus on what pork would be within that bill. It would take a pretty non-partisan president to pull that off though with some degree of success, and with a large majority of public support.

    Obama tried to pull this off with the Economic Recovery and Reinvestment Act. End product contained a whole lot less ‘pork’ than the initial House bill contained.

    We can hope that Obama gets more adroit and accomplished in exercising this skill of defining what is and isn’t pork in the appropriations process, while passing the public’s smell test.

    Posted by: David R. Remer at March 3, 2009 7:15 PM
    Comment #276707

    David,
    Why I agree that challenging Authority should always be the Right of an American Layman Citizen and Teenager. I also know first hand the trouble caused by one standing up to those in power and questioning their Authority especially as an Anti-Authoritarian. For from their Parents to the person who assigns the grades or writes the check the Rebel will find themselve dealing with Peer Pressure and Societal acceptance once they question the Status Quo.

    So why I have found refuge in the fact that the Elite of the Elite is open to the possibilites that the Knowledge and Wisdom of Man may be incomplete. I am also aware that folks like Rush and Company will do or say anything to keep their Rose Colored World intact even when they are proven wrong by their own Ideology and Teachings.

    Besides as we discussed early in another post if 2+2 does not equal 4 than how does the Parent, Teacher, or the person who writes the check maintain control over Authority?

    Posted by: Henry Schlatman at March 3, 2009 8:58 PM
    Comment #276724

    David,

    I was not playing a game with my argument; I believe it, and I believe the research is on my side. Try this as a starter on the concepts:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cultural_capital

    I’m certain that I did not imply that money was not necessary. The question is not if money should be spent but rather where. Given a pool of finite resources to attack the problems of the educational system, the resources can and should be directed to those measures with the best chance to improve outcomes.

    Certainly one option is to spend the majority of the resources improving facilities and educators. But I believe that the research show that in poorer districts that if the same resources were devoted to adult literacy programs, imporved access to technology, and promoting mixed income housing that the results will be better. However in wealthier districts that have near perfect adult literacy rates, a computer in every household, and no population densities below the poverty levels that those resources would be better spent on facilities and educators.

    However, when the spending priorities are being made in Washington not at the local levels, these kinds of decisions are just not possible because they are by definition homogeneous. That is if we make the decision to put all of our eggs in the basket of facilities and teachers, we will ulitmately widen the acheivement gap if the money is distributed roughly equally (equal could be measured in percentages as much as in raw dollars). This may not be completely awful, we may see overall achievement as a nation go up, but it will certainly feed into an already widening of the GINI coefficient.

    Also, I thought I was being very polite in my previous reply; I did not mean to offend you. The tone of your reply leads me to think that I did, I apologize.

    Lee,

    You raised some very valid concerns in response to by suggestion to ask Research Universities to play a bigger role. My initial reaction is if not the Fed’s, not the State, and not the Locals, and not the Universities then who? I’m not sure I have a perfect answer for them now, but I have given it some thought.

    My goal would be to take the best of each of the levels and use them. The Fed’s do money the best. They can provide more, more consistently then any of the other branches in order to see long-term programs through. (I personally don’t like this, but it is a given in the current political world). The State’s can administer that money, distribute it, and enforce accountability (both fiscal & programatic) better than the other levels. The Local Governments can spend and implement the money more effectively and efficiently than the other levels. The Research Universities have the means to provide the direction and the guidance than the other levels.

    In an ideal world, I think that the Fed’s should establish broad programmatic goals, like we are dedicating $50B over the next 10 years and for that money we expect to move from the bottom third of developed counties in educational attainment to above the 50% mark. We will implement this program by distributing the money to States who submit an approved plan to achieve similar proportionate moves for their students. The money will be divided among the qualifying states based on a formula of school age children divided by the percentage of school age children in poverty. A qualifying state plan must include the following elements:

    a) Targeted measures for improvement
    b) The full participation of Universities in the development of the plan
    c) A committment of State matching funds based on a sliding scale of a percentage of school aged children in poverty
    d) A committment of local matching funds based on a percentage of school aged children in poverty
    e) A committment of local agencies to develop a plan for targeted initiatives that are in-line with the goals of the State Plan
    f) A committment of local agencies to have a Research University to participate in the development of these plans
    g) No more than 10% of the Federal funds may be used for administrative costs
    h) At least 2% but no more than 5% of the Federal funds must be spent on research projects to determine how to garner the best ROI on future Federal funds
    i) All future plans must adjust spending in line with the results of the Research projects

    Plans would be required to be updated and resubmitted every year. Penalties via the reduction of Federal funds would be levied against those States that did not meet their objectives after the third year and every year thereafter.

    The State government would then develop the master blueprint for the State which dictated the development of local agency plans. They would also establish targets for the local levels and monitor their progress. They would distribute the money, audit the spending and enforce simiilar penalties at the local level as those enacted at the Federal level.

    The local agencies would then work to develop their plans that were in-line with the State and Federal plans. Their plans could include improving facilities, spending more money or teachers, or any other measure that they believed (and could substantiate based on valid research) would help them reach their objectives. They would then implement the plans. Should a local agency not acheive their interim objectives after the third year or any year thereafter, they could either lose funding or have the system turned over to a custodian depending upon State laws.

    The Research Universities would then work with State and Local levels to develop plans and research ROI models.

    What do you think?

    Posted by: Rob at March 4, 2009 1:42 AM
    Comment #276747
    David R. Remer wrote:
    • d.a.n said: “By the time there’s any agreement on what pork barrel is, it won’t matter.”
    But without a consensus on what it is, it cannot be targeted from removal from budgets, can it?
    Realistically, after 52 consecutive years of deficit spending full of pork-barrel, it’s rather obvious that Congress and administrations are not going to stop it until it finally becomes too painful.
    David R. Remer wrote: But, hey, there is an alternative that sidesteps the whole pork definition conundrum. Define the purpose of a bill, then define any spending that does not match the purpose of that bill by a majority vote in the markup process, as spending to be excluded. One catch, the markup process must be public and taped for review on the internet for all to see, as must be the title and stated purpose of the Bill.
    I’ve been recommending a One-Purpose-Per-BILL for years.

    Still, a One-Purpose-Per-BILL won’t substitute for basic common-sense, and honesty.

    And 37+ states (more than the 34 states required per Article V of the U.S. Constitution) have requested a BALANCED BUDGET amendment (among 730+ amendments by ALL 50 states), but Congress has chosen to blatantly violate the Constitution.

    David R. Remer wrote: That is where Obama’s political reforms are heading. It will be an interesting wrestling match between Obama and the Congress. Obama and his bully pulpit, and Congress without a leg to stand on, save their self-aggrandizing mailings to constituent’s at tax payer’s expense.
    The time to do that was before signing the pork-laden Stimulus BILL.

    Have you seen what’s in Obama’s 2009 year’s Fiscal budget?
    The problem today is that the definition of pork-barrel has changed.
    The simply solution to ending pork-barrel now appears to simply deny most (if not all) unnecessary and wasteful spending is pork-barrel. Cha-Ching!
    And there are ample party loyalists to rubber-stamp it, because party POWER is all that matters.

    David R. Remer wrote:
    • d.a.n defined pork as: “I would think it is any unnecessary spending not targeted at solving the nation’s most pressing problems.”
    OK, YOU are not in Congress.
    That’s quite a talent for perception. Great fear I sense in you, that you know your argument is weak indeed, David R. Remer.
    David R. Remer wrote: Who in Congress defines ‘unnecessary’ and by who else’s criteria? Who defines the ‘solution’ as the test by which the term ‘unnecessary’ is defined, as opposed to other proposals which are cast out as ‘non-solutions’.
    This line of obfuscation is silly.

    Like I said before, perhaps we need to create a Congressional Committee to look into searching for the real meaning of pork-barrel, and then 10 sub-committees to assist, give all involved another raise and $93,000 for petty cash and expenses, and perhaps spend a few hundred Billion dollars to perform independent research, perhaps provide some tax breaks to the corporations performing the research, and then reconvene after a few years, to determine if they should start the process all over again? Eh?

    After listing hundreds of examples of pork-barrel, we see this

    Stephen Daugherty wrote: d.a.n - I don’t see pork barrel there, little projects just meant to appeal to a base back home.

    David R. Remer wrote: Now, how do you define pork?

    David R. Remer wrote: OK, YOU are not in Congress.

    David R. Remer wrote: Who in Congress defines ‘unnecessary’ and by who else’s criteria?

    David R. Remer wrote: You continue to assume that pork spending is some simple thing everyone can agree on and define. That assumption could not be more wrong.

    David R. Remer wrote: One person’s pork is another person’s livlihood.

    David R. Remer wrote: I am not trying to be cute, here. These questions are the very ones that plague the Congressional process in coming to a consensus on what constitutes pork and what does not.

    David R. Remer wrote: In the real world of federal appropriations, defining pork has no consensus, and no definition exists which Congress can agree upon.

    David R. Remer wrote: In other words, barking up the ‘pork’ tree as a solution to what ails Congressional spending is futile.

    HHHHMMmmmmmmmmmm … Great fear I sense in you, that you know down deep that your argument is weak, David R. Remer.

    Forget for a moment what Congress thinks is pork-barrel, since that obviously is almost (if completely) nothing.

    Do you think any of the following is responsible spending in the time of this economic crisis caused by massive, crushing debt?:

    • $8 billion for high-speed railway (including an earmark for an Los Angeles to Las Vegas MagLev)

    • $50 million for the National Endowment for the Arts

    • $650 million for the Digital TV converter boxes

    • $1 billion for the “FutureGen” not-ready-for-primetime near zero emission plant in Illinois

    • $53.6 billion for the “state stabilization” slush fund

    • $1.3 billion for Amtrak…

    • $24 million for USDA buildings and rent.

    • $176 million for renovating Agricultural Research Service buildings

    • $295 million for administrative expenses associated with food stamp program

    • $1 billion for the 2010 Census {What’s the point with 12-to-20 Million illegal aliens?}

    • $200 million for public computer centers at community colleges and libraries

    • $360 million for construction of NIST buildings

    • $830 million for NOAA research and facilities

    • $2 billion for Byrne JAG program

    • $375 million for Mississippi River projects

    • $10 million for urban canals

    • $300 million for “green” cars for federal employees

    • $20 million for IT upgrades at the Small Business Administration

    • $200 million to design and furnish DHS headquarters

    • $125 million to restore trails and abandoned mines

    • $146 million for trail maintenance at National Park Service sites

    • $25 million for the Smithsonian museam

    • $1.2 billion for “youth activities” (for “youth” up to 24 years old)

    • $500 million earmark for National Institute of Health facilities in Bethesda, MD

    • $500 million earmark for the SSA National Computer Center in Maryland

    • $220 million for the International Boundary and Water Commission, part of it going to Mexico

    • $1 billion earmark for the “FutureGen” near zero emission sci-fi plant in Matoon, Illinois that is a pet project of Senator Durbin and former governor Rod Blagojevich. The Washington Post has called the project “prohibitively expensive” and scientists at MIT oppose the project. See February 13, 2009 Washington Post story “Despite Pledges, Package Has Some Pork”

    • Some money spent in the final bill allows funds to go to museums, stadiums, arts centers, theaters, parks, or highway beautification projects. This opens the back door to fund the notorious Mob Museum in Las Vegas, which would otherwise had not be able to receive stimulus money. (SEC. 1604)

    • The final bill merely says contracts should be awarded with competitive procedures “to the maximum extent possible.” This will allow lawmakers to simply “phonemark” billions in spending to pet projects with zero transparency and accountability. (SEC. 1554-1555)

    • $185,000 for coral reef research and preservation in Maui County, HI

    • $55,000 in meteorological equipment for Pierce College in Woodland Hills, CA.

    • $9.9 million for science enhancement at historically black colleges in South Carolina.

    • $9.9 million for South Carolina’s historically black colleges and universities, requested by House Majority Whip James E. Clyburn, (D-SC);
    • $951,500 Sustainable initiatives for Las Vegas. Berkeley and Reid sponsors.

    • $24,000 A+ for Abstinence, sponsored by Specter.

    • $300,000 Montana World Trade Center. Rehberg sponsor.

    • $950,000 Myrtle Beach International Trade and Convention Center. Sponsored by Graham.

    • $200,000 Oil Region Alliance. Peterson sponsor. {Why don’t oil companies with record profits fund this themselves?}

    • $190,000 Buffalo Bill Historical Center, Cody, WY for digitizing and editing the Cody collection. Sponsored by Barbara Cubin

    • $143,000 Las Vegas Natural History Museum, Las Vegas, NV, to expand natural history education programs. Sponsored by Harry Reid

    • $238,000 for the Polynesian Voyaging Society, Honolulu, HI, for educational programs. Sponsored by Sen. Daniel Inouye.

    • $381,000 for Jazz at Lincoln Center, New York, NY for music education programs. Sponsored by Jerrold Nadler.

    • $3.8 million on a Needles, Calif., highway. Rep. Jerry Lewis of California, the top Republican on the House Appropriations Committee.

    • $950,000 nature education center in Moss Point, MS. Sponsored by Sen. Thad Cochran of Mississippi, the top Republican on Senate Appropriations.

    • Link to copy of the Stimulus BILL: One-Simple-Idea.com/AmericanRecoveryActStimulusBILL20090218.pdf

    David R. Remer, Do you also believe as Stephen Daugherty who responded …
    Stephen Daugherty wrote: d.a.n - I don’t see pork barrel there, little projects just meant to appeal to a base back home.

    HHMMMMM … tt appears very much like someone is trying awfully damn hard to make that same case too, and/or also obfuscate the definition of pork-barrel?

    David R. Remer wrote: And lastly, who in Congress defines which are the nation’s most pressing problems and which are lesser to be ignored at the cost of other representative’s constituents?
    It doesn’t take a genius or rocket scientist to identify irresponsible pork-barrel and unnecessary spending.
    David R. Remer wrote: I am not trying to be cute, here. These questions are the very ones that plague the Congressional process in coming to a consensus on what constitutes pork and what does not.
    Yes, of course. It’s all very confusing. Perhaps we need to create a Congressional Committee to look into searching for the real meaning of pork-barrel, and then 10 sub-committees to assist, give all involved another raise and $93,000 for petty cash and expenses, and perhaps spend a few hundred Billion dollars to perform independent research, perhaps provide some tax breaks to the corporations performing the research, and then reconvene after a few years, to determine if they should start the process all over again? Eh? But what ever you do, ignore any requests for a One-Purpose-Per-BILL amendment or a BALANCED BUDGET amendment.
    David R. Remer wrote: In the real world of federal appropriations, defining pork has no consensus, and no definition exists which Congress can agree upon. In other words, barking up the ‘pork’ tree as a solution to what ails Congressional spending is futile. You have to bypass the entire pork issue somehow, and address the issue of how spending is determined by Congress as effective or wasteful form another approach. One person’s pork is another person’s livlihood. You cannot achieve an operational guideline for effective spending by willy nilly allowing every Congress person to define what pork or wasteful spending is in the context of a particular appropriations bill. That only yields the appropriation process we already have. Republicans decrying Democrat’s spending as pork, and Democrat’s decrying Republican’s spending as pork, and both sides walking away with pork by consensus.
    Like I’ve said for years, we need a One-Purpose-Per-BILL and/or a BALANCED BUGDET amendmnet. Unfortunately, that ain’t likely with Congress violating the Constitution and ignoring 37+ states’ 109+ applications for a BALANCED BUDGET amendment. The problem is also one of a Congress that is violating the U.S. Constitution.
    David R. Remer wrote: You need a definition, defined not by Congress persons, but, some other entity whose definition is accepted with authority and respect.
    One would think a little common-sense would suffice.

    Without some basic common-sense, some integrity, and abiding by existing laws and the U.S. Constitution, we’re headed for more pain and misery first.
    Voters are now most likely the last hope.
    Perhaps enough voters will stop repeatedly rewarding irrepsonsible, incompetent, FOR-SALE, corrupt incumbent politicians with 85%-to-90% re-election rates, when enough of the voters are bankrupt, jobless, homeless, and hungry?
    Fortunately, pain and misery is the last built-in self-correction mechanism, and it can be very effective source of much-needed motivation.

    Congress has been, and still is out-of-Control, as evidenced by unprecedented levels of federal debt, GDP declines, unfair taxations, constitutional violations, illegal immigration, despicably pitting Americans and illegal aliens against each other for votes and profits, unfair trade practices, government FOR-SALE, 52 consecutive years of deficit spending and incessant inflation, and a number of other abuses (One-Simple-Idea.com/Abuses.htm).

    David R. Remer wrote: You need a definition, defined not by Congress persons, but, some other entity whose definition is accepted with authority and respect. The only potential entity with that potential power to define effective vs. wasteful, as far as I can see, is the President.
    “the President”?

    Think so? Not likely since Obama just signed a pork-laden Stimulus BILL, and will most likely sign many more.
    I knew when people started asking Obama what the definition of pork-barrel was and he offerred no strict definition, it was by design. Congress is addicted to spending and waste and Obama doesn’t want to be a party pooper.

    David R. Remer wrote: And the president would do so by drafting an initial budget proposal, …
    Have you seen what’s in Obama’s 2009 fiscal budget, and they additional 10 years of deficit spending?
    David R. Remer wrote: And the president would do so by drafting an initial budget proposal, and if they are an effective president, using the bully pulpit to garner a public consensus on what pork would be within that bill. It would take a pretty non-partisan president to pull that off though with some degree of success, and with a large majority of public support.
    Public support for more fiscal responsibility already exists, based on the following polls.

    Some Polling Report polls (2/20-22/09) shows the following (source: www.pollingreport.com/budget.htm)

      Regardless of whether you favor or oppose the economic stimulus bill that Congress passed, do you think it would have been better for the government to spend more money to stimulate the economy, better for the government to spend less money, or is the amount of spending in the bill about right?”
    • Better to Spend More: 14%
    • Better to Spend Less: 41%
    • About Right: 40%
    • Unsure: 1%
      In thinking about the trade-offs between spending government money to improve the economy versus adding considerable amounts of money to the federal debt, which do you think is the greater risk: spending too little to improve the economy or adding too much to the federal debt?”
    • Spending too little: 37%
    • Adding too much to debt: 59%
    • About Right: 4%
      “Regardless of whether you favor or oppose the steps the government has taken in recent months to address economic problems, how worried are you about each of the following: very worried, somewhat worried, not too worried, or not worried at all? How about [see below]?”

      |

        “The amount of money being added to the federal debt”
      • Very worried: 54%
      • Somewhat worried: 28%
      • Not too worried: 11%
      • Not at all worried: 5%
      • Unsure: 1%
      |
        “The possibility these steps might not work and the economy will get worse”
      • Very worried: 46%
      • Somewhat worried: 37%
      • Not too worried: 11%
      • Not at all worried: 6%
      • Unsure: 1%
      |
        “The possibility that increased government borrowing could produce inflation”
      • Very worried: 43%
      • Somewhat worried: 35%
      • Not too worried: 14%
      • Not at all worried: 6%
      • Unsure: 2%
      |
        “The increasing role of the government in the U.S. economy”
      • Very worried: 34%
      • Somewhat worried: 35%
      • Not too worried: 19%
      • Not at all worried: 10%
      • Unsure: 2%

    So, based on those polls, Obama’s plan had better work, because most people polled seem to be against growing the debt larger.

    However, the voters’ want their cake and eat it too:

      “As you may know, the federal government has taken many steps to deal with problems in the economy in recent months. Please tell me whether, in general, you favor or oppose the government doing each of the following. How about [see below]?”

      |


        “Funding new government programs to help create jobs”
      • Favor: 83%

      • Oppose: 17%

      • Unsure: 1%

      |
        “Giving aid to state governments in serious financial trouble”
      • Favor: 67%

      • Oppose: 30%

      • Unsure: 3%

      |
        “Giving aid to homeowners who are in danger of losing their homes to foreclosure”
      • Favor: 64%

      • Oppose: 33%

      • Unsure: 3%

    David R. Remer wrote: Obama tried to pull this off with the Economic Recovery and Reinvestment Act. End product contained a whole lot less ‘pork’ than the initial House bill contained.
    Yeah boy. They cut spending for condoms and a few of the most ridiculous examples of pork-barrel, but the list above still contains a LOT of pork-barrel (depending on one’s definition of pork-barrel).
    David R. Remer wrote: We can hope that Obama gets more adroit and accomplished in exercising this skill of defining what is and isn’t pork in the appropriations process, while passing the public’s smell test.
    That ain’t like to happen by signing huge, pork-laden BILLs, 10 more years of deficit spending, growing the government ever larger, and the type of spending listed above.

    At any rate, the voters have the government that the voters elect (and re-elect, and re-elect, and re-elect , … , at least until that finally becomes too painful).

    Posted by: d.a.n at March 4, 2009 9:57 AM
    Comment #276784

    d.a.n said: “Realistically, after 52 consecutive years of deficit spending full of pork-barrel, it’s rather obvious that Congress and administrations are not going to stop it until it finally becomes too painful. “

    Or, until we have a president willing to veto it while keeping the public support on his side to make it “too painful” for those in Congress. A far preferable alternative.


    d.a.n said in regard to vetoing pork appropriations bills: “The time to do that was before signing the pork-laden Stimulus BILL. “

    In principle, you are right. Politically, you are wrong. Obama needs the public on his side if he is going to threaten the shut down of government by vetoing a budget bill. The omnibus bill laden with pork belongs to last year’s budget and to Congress. By letting Congress have there last fix on this bill, Obama can upon addressing the first fiscal budget of his Administration, take Congress to the mat on the pork, and turn to the American people and point to that Omnibus bill from last year’s budget as both the justification for his veto and his good will gesture to Congress, extending to them every possible consideration. Politically, he will be in a very much stronger position to threaten the veto on the coming years Budget, arguing Congress got their way, but, will no more on any fiscal Budget falling under his term in office.


    d.a.n replied to my comment:

    David R. Remer wrote: Who in Congress defines ‘unnecessary’ and by who else’s criteria? Who defines the ‘solution’ as the test by which the term ‘unnecessary’ is defined, as opposed to other proposals which are cast out as ‘non-solutions’.

    “This line of obfuscation is silly.”

    Nice dodge of the questions. And disingenous, as the definition of Pork logical MUST be defined before one can identify it for removal. Your definition does not work because you don’t define who makes those decisions. The obfuscation of the heart of the matter is all yours in this case.

    I understand your frustration. You assumed you knew what Pork was and that it was obvious to all, and everyone knew it when they saw it. But, I ask the simple questions what is pork and who defines it, and you obfuscate and dodge in response to providing adequate answers to those questions.

    Wouldn’t it just be simpler and more efficient to admit that the definition of pork is not a simple topic, and not a shared definition, and without a common definition for it as reference, AND that it is not possible to discriminate with consensus on the removal of pork spending from appropriations bills until a commonly viewed referential definition is established?

    Simple rules of logic require just such a solution. A solution which Obama is shaping as we speak, I suspect.

    Posted by: David R. Remer at March 4, 2009 2:49 PM
    Comment #276785

    Rob said: “The strongest correlation is that of educational attainment of parents and their children. That is practically speaking the children of well-educated “poor” will attain similar or better educations than the children of poorly-educated “rich” (rich and poor in the case are relative and not absolute definitions).”

    Anecdotally, NOT statistically. Statistically, students from poor school districts achieve less than students in wealthier districts. You can research the anecdotal exceptions till the face turns blue, it will not override the statistics, which correlate money with better educational experience by students.

    Obviously, education is an experience influenced by myriad variables, but, one of the most statistically significant determinants of positive educational experience is the amount of money available to the school district on a per student capita basis within standard deviations of the bell curve. Of course, when you move out to the extremes of the curve, other variables become more prominent as determinants as money becomes less determinant. But, these do not apply to vast majority of students and schools in the U.S. by definition.

    Posted by: David R. Remer at March 4, 2009 2:56 PM
    Comment #276792
    David R. Remer wrote:
    • d.a.n said: “Realistically, after 52 consecutive years of deficit spending full of pork-barrel, it’s rather obvious that Congress and administrations are not going to stop it until it finally becomes too painful. “
    Or, until we have a president willing to veto it while keeping the public support on his side to make it “too painful” for those in Congress. A far preferable alternative.
    True. I believe it when I see it. If that happens, it will be historic.
    David R. Remer wrote: d.a.n said in regard to vetoing pork appropriations bills: “The time to do that was before signing the pork-laden Stimulus BILL. “
    In principle, you are right. Politically, you are wrong. It only leads me to believe all other pork-laden BILLs will be passed too.
    David R. Remer wrote: Obama needs the public on his side if he is going to threaten the shut down of government by vetoing a budget bill.
    The polls show the public is fickle and irresponsible too. They fear debt, inflation, but they want to eat their cake too, and want money and jobs.

    This is yet another excuse for politicians refusing to make tough decisions.
    This is yet another reason why we’re probably screwed.

    David R. Remer wrote: The omnibus bill laden with pork belongs to last year’s budget and to Congress. By letting Congress have their last fix on this bill, Obama can upon addressing the first fiscal budget of his Administration, take Congress to the mat on the pork, and turn to the American people and point to that Omnibus bill from last year’s budget as both the justification for his veto and his good will gesture to Congress, extending to them every possible consideration.
    “Their last fix” ? So you’re admitting it contains pork-barrel? Could you identify some of it so that I’ll know what you consider pork-barrel?

    Also, have you seen what is in the 2009 budget so far?
    Do you see any last, last, “last fix[es]” in that budget?

    David R. Remer wrote: Politically, he will be in a very much stronger position to threaten the veto on the coming years Budget, arguing Congress got their way, but, will no more on any fiscal Budget falling under his term in office.
    I thought we had an economic emergency?

    You appear to have an excuse for everything. So Congress needed a “last fix”?

    David R. Remer wrote: Nice dodge of the questions.
    False. I answered lots of your questions. You’ve dodged almost all of mine, including what you consider pork-barrel in the list above, despite acknowledging that Obama was merely letting Congress get its last, last, “last fix”.
    David R. Remer wrote: And disingenous, as the definition of Pork logical MUST be defined before one can identify it for removal.
    False again. I defined what I think pork-barrel is. It’s unnecessary or wasteful spending, and I also provided 8 criteria that was used by Citizens Against Government Waste (CAGW.ORG). In addition, I provided hundreds of examples of what I see as pork-barrel spending. So you are simply flat wrong about being disingenuous.
    David R. Remer wrote: Your definition …
    OHHHHhhh … now you say I did provide a definition of pork-barrel. So which is it? I did or I didn’t?
    David R. Remer wrote: Your definition does not work because you don’t define who makes those decisions. The obfuscation of the heart of the matter is all yours in this case.
    Not true. All that is required is a little common-sense, honesty, and priorities. Besides, you’ve already acknowledged above that Obama was merely letting Congress have their last, last, “last fix” of pork-barrel. Oh the webs we weave when we attempt to deceive?
    David R. Remer wrote: I understand your frustration.
    I’m not frustrated with you or others’ obfuscation of what pork-barrel is. Stephen Daugherty openly admits …
    Stephen Daugherty wrote: d.a.n - I don’t see pork barrel there, [only] little projects just meant to appeal to a base back home.
    You seem to be defending pork-barrel due to an unclear definition of pork-barrel, yet admit above that Obama was merely letting Congress have their last, last, “last fix” of pork-barrel. What’s the excuse going to be for the next pork-laden BILL. The same as Stephen Daugherty’s …
    Stephen Daugherty wrote: d.a.n - I don’t see pork barrel there, [only] little projects just meant to appeal to a base back home.
    David R. Remer wrote: You assumed you knew what Pork was …
    It’s not hard to identify pork-barrel. Citizens Against Government Waste (CAGW.ORG) and many other organizations agree on much of it. At a time like this, is the following responsible spending. If not, it’s pork-barrel: So, is any of the following pork-barrel, or irresponsible spending, at this time, during an economic crisis caused by massive, crushing debt?:
    • $8 billion for high-speed railway (including an earmark for an Los Angeles to Las Vegas MagLev)
    • $50 million for the National Endowment for the Arts
    • $650 million for the Digital TV converter boxes
    • $1 billion for the “FutureGen” not-ready-for-primetime near zero emission plant in Illinois
    • $53.6 billion for the “state stabilization” slush fund
    • $1.3 billion for Amtrak…
    • $24 million for USDA buildings and rent.
    • $176 million for renovating Agricultural Research Service buildings
    • $295 million for administrative expenses associated with food stamp program
    • $1 billion for the 2010 Census {What’s the point with 12-to-20 Million illegal aliens?}
    • $200 million for public computer centers at community colleges and libraries
    • $360 million for construction of NIST buildings
    • $830 million for NOAA research and facilities
    • $2 billion for Byrne JAG program
    • $375 million for Mississippi River projects
    • $10 million for urban canals
    • $300 million for “green” cars for federal employees
    • $20 million for IT upgrades at the Small Business Administration
    • $200 million to design and furnish DHS headquarters
    • $125 million to restore trails and abandoned mines
    • $146 million for trail maintenance at National Park Service sites
    • $25 million for the Smithsonian museum
    • $1.2 billion for “youth activities” (for “youth” up to 24 years old)
    • $500 million earmark for National Institute of Health facilities in Bethesda, MD
    • $500 million earmark for the SSA National Computer Center in Maryland
    • $220 million for the International Boundary and Water Commission, part of it going to Mexico
    • $1 billion earmark for the “FutureGen” near zero emission sci-fi plant in Matoon, Illinois that is a pet project of Senator Durbin and former governor Rod Blagojevich. The Washington Post has called the project “prohibitively expensive” and scientists at MIT oppose the project. See February 13, 2009 Washington Post story “Despite Pledges, Package Has Some Pork”
    • Some money spent in the final bill allows funds to go to museums, stadiums, arts centers, theaters, parks, or highway beautification projects. This opens the back door to fund the notorious Mob Museum in Las Vegas, which would otherwise had not be able to receive stimulus money. (SEC. 1604)
    • The final bill merely says contracts should be awarded with competitive procedures “to the maximum extent possible.” This will allow lawmakers to simply “phonemark” billions in spending to pet projects with zero transparency and accountability. (SEC. 1554-1555)
    • $185,000 for coral reef research and preservation in Maui County, HI
    • $55,000 in meteorological equipment for Pierce College in Woodland Hills, CA.
    • $9.9 million for science enhancement at historically black colleges in South Carolina.
    • $9.9 million for South Carolina’s historically black colleges and universities, requested by House Majority Whip James E. Clyburn, (D-SC);
    • $951,500 Sustainable initiatives for Las Vegas. Berkeley and Reid sponsors.
    • $24,000 A+ for Abstinence, sponsored by Specter.
    • $300,000 Montana World Trade Center. Rehberg sponsor.
    • $950,000 Myrtle Beach International Trade and Convention Center. Sponsored by Graham.
    • $200,000 Oil Region Alliance. Peterson sponsor. {Why don’t oil companies with record profits fund this themselves?}
    • $190,000 Buffalo Bill Historical Center, Cody, WY for digitizing and editing the Cody collection. Sponsored by Barbara Cubin
    • $143,000 Las Vegas Natural History Museum, Las Vegas, NV, to expand natural history education programs. Sponsored by Harry Reid
    • $238,000 for the Polynesian Voyaging Society, Honolulu, HI, for educational programs. Sponsored by Sen. Daniel Inouye.
    • $381,000 for Jazz at Lincoln Center, New York, NY for music education programs. Sponsored by Jerrold Nadler.
    • $3.8 million on a Needles, Calif., highway. Rep. Jerry Lewis of California, the top Republican on the House Appropriations Committee.
    • $950,000 nature education center in Moss Point, MS. Sponsored by Sen. Thad Cochran of Mississippi, the top Republican on Senate Appropriations.
    • Link to copy of the Stimulus BILL: One-Simple-Idea.com/AmericanRecoveryActStimulusBILL20090218.pdf
    Stephen Daugherty answered the question and said he didn’t see any pork barrel. David R. Remer, Do you also believe similarly to Stephen Daugherty who responded …
    Stephen Daugherty wrote: d.a.n - I don’t see pork barrel there, little projects just meant to appeal to a base back home.
    Do you ?
    David R. Remer wrote: You assumed you knew what Pork was and that it was obvious to all, and everyone knew it when they saw it.
    Yes, I admit that I did make a bad assumption that some people have enough sense to know what pork-barrel is.
    David R. Remer wrote: But, I ask the simple questions what is pork and who defines it, and you obfuscate and dodge in response to providing adequate answers to those questions.
    More nonsense, since I already provided 8 criteria, of which 7 come from Citizens Against Government Waste (CAGW.ORG), and I also defined pork-barrel as unnecessary and wasteful spending. Here’s the definition again (the 4th or 5th time), which you claim I didn’t provide:
      At least 1 of the following 7 criteria are used to define the following below as pork-barrel, and at least 2 are almost exist:
      • (1) Requested by only one chamber of Congress;
      • (2) Not specifically authorized;
      • (3) Not competitively awarded;
      • (4) Not requested by the President;
      • (5) Greatly exceeds the President’s budget request or the previous year’s funding;
      • (6) Not the subject of congressional hearings; or
      • (7) Serves only a local or special interest.
    And I added one more thing to the CAGW.ORG’s list.
    • (8) Any BILL Congress didn’t even bother to read.
    Also, pork-barrel is irresponsible and unnecessary spending, and in my opinion, the only spending the federal government should be doing is for the national defense, law enforcement, border security, and homeland security. Maybe a few other things, such as either fixing and responsibly managing, or phasing out Social Security and Medicare. We don’t need all of this bloat and waste, do we? I recall someone saying they would go through the entire federal budget with a “fine tooth” comb and cut all unnnecssary spending and waste. I’ll believe it when I see it. When the first opportunity arose to do that, it didn’t happen.

    So how is that dodging questions? How many questions have I asked and received no answer? Should we count them? Then we’ll see whose really dodging questions?

    David R. Remer wrote: Wouldn’t it just be simpler and more efficient to admit that the definition of pork is not a simple topic, and not a shared definition, and without a common definition for it as reference, AND that it is not possible to discriminate with consensus on the removal of pork spending from appropriations bills until a commonly viewed referential definition is established?
    Yes, of course. It’s all very confusing. Perhaps we need to create a Congressional Committee to look into searching for the real meaning of pork-barrel, and then 10 sub-committees to assist, give all involved another raise and $93,000 for petty cash and expenses, and perhaps spend a few hundred Billion dollars to perform independent research, perhaps provide some tax breaks to the corporations performing the research, and then reconvene after a few years, to determine if they should start the process all over again? Eh?

    Not!
    I provided criteria several times (see above) and in coment the following comments:
    (www.watchblog.com/thirdparty/archives/006452.html#276604) Comment # 276604
    (www.watchblog.com/thirdparty/archives/006452.html#276501) Comment # 276501
    (www.watchblog.com/republicans/archives/006449.html#276480) Comment # 276480

    You simply don’t like the answer.
    I don’t think identifying pork-barrel is as difficult as some people want to make it out to be.
    However, without a little common-sense, integrity, and honesty, no rules or definitions will matter much, and by the time we arrive at a definition of pork-barrel that you agree with, it will probably be too late.
    Now, I’ve asked you for your definition of pork-barrel and have yet to see an answer. It it too complex to answer?
    How about the following:

    • $50 million for the National Endowment for the Arts
    • ?
    • $25 million for the Smithsonian museum

    • $190,000 Buffalo Bill Historical Center, Cody, WY for digitizing and editing the Cody collection. Sponsored by Barbara Cubin

    • $143,000 Las Vegas Natural History Museum, Las Vegas, NV, to expand natural history education programs. Sponsored by Harry Reid

    David R. Remer wrote: Simple rules of logic require just such a solution. A solution which Obama is shaping as we speak, I suspect.
    Gee. You certainly seem to know a lot about what Obama is thinking and planning.

    Have you been 100% correct yet?
    Or is there always a rationalization or excuse, such as the last, last, “last fix” of pork-barrel for Congress?
    I’ll believe the solution when I see it.
    Obama’s signing that pork-laden 17-FEB-2009 Stimulus BILL was not encouraging, and you even acknowledge that it was a last, last, “last fix” of pork-barrel for Congress.

    At any rate, the voters have the government that the voters elect (and re-elect, and re-elect, and re-elect , … , at least until that finally becomes too painful).

    Posted by: d.a.n at March 4, 2009 4:14 PM
    Comment #276810

    d.a.n said: “Also, have you seen what is in the 2009 budget so far? “

    I clicked on your link. But, it doesn’t specify whether this is the budget proposal coming from the White House, or the House of Representatives.

    If it is the House bill, it probably is going to be laden with special interest projects for home districts which have nothing to do with creating jobs, halting the recession, or investing in future economy requirements.

    If what I read in your link is the White House budget, can you provide a link to the full budget, so I can read it at its source?

    Posted by: David R. Remer at March 4, 2009 7:22 PM
    Comment #276817

    David said, “Anecdotally, NOT statistically. Statistically, students from poor school districts achieve less than students in wealthier districts. You can research the anecdotal exceptions till the face turns blue, it will not override the statistics, which correlate money with better educational experience by students.”

    Actually there is a tremendous amount of statistical evidence that backs my claim. Try this google search, “correlation of educational attainment between parents and children compared to income”. You will get pages worth of statistical research and articles based on research about this phenomena.

    This statement does not necessarily preclude your statement that, “Statistically, students from poor school districts achieve less than students in wealthier districts.” This is apples and oranges David. These statistics actually reinforce each other because students in poor districts as a cohort are the children of more poorly educated parents than the children in rich districts. Surely you do not dispute that educational attainment is probably the best statistical indicator of income we have.

    You’ve missed my point completely. Please go back and reread what I’ve read. I think that you will find what I’m talking about is that there are many possible causative factors to the statistics that you have cited. The statistics and argument that I have posited are one explanation that has received significant statistical study.

    Posted by: Rob at March 4, 2009 8:34 PM
    Comment #276823

    That’s the House version.
    Do you think it will contain pork barrel?
    Do you think it will be vetoed?

    Posted by: d.a.n at March 4, 2009 9:12 PM
    Comment #276830

    Rob, it is a logical curiosity that that you tout: “Surely you do not dispute that educational attainment is probably the best statistical indicator of income we have. “

    But, then question the reverse correlation which has even higher (closer to 1) correlations between academic achievement and a school districts operational budget per student capita K-12.

    Posted by: David R. Remer at March 5, 2009 12:40 AM
    Comment #276831

    d.a.n, just to be sure we are talking about the same budget. When you say 2009, are you referring to the Omnibus bill left incomplete from last year’s budget 2008-2009 for Pres. Bush’s last budget?

    Or, the budget request submitted by Pres. Obama, to go into effect Oct. 1, 2009 through 2010?

    I have no doubt that there will be someone who will consider elements of Pres. Obama’s budget pork. NO ONE can draft a federal budget that someone will not claim contains pork, since different people have differing education and views when deciding what is essential for the federal budget.

    And I can pretty much guarantee that the House version of the Obama’s budget request will get laden with spending that both Obama and a great many college educated Independent voters would deem pork. That is the nature of the Congressional appropriations ‘you scratch my back, I will scratch yours’ process.

    As for whether or not Obama will veto it, will depend upon a list of variables which Obama will have to consider so large I doubt I could even list them here, but would include the urgency with which the American people need the government appropriations contained, the political equation of delaying the budgetary process to even shutting government down, vs. accepting a certain level of pork.

    I do know Obama has made concerted efforts to live up to his campaign assurances to the American people, and will too on cutting wasteful spending in the budgetary process. I would guess that if the Congressional reconciliation bill is significantly different from Obama’s and due in great part to unnecessary and non-essential local district appropriations, he will seriously consider vetoing the Congressional version, yes!.

    There is principle and then there is human suffering that will result from sticking to principle. If I were president, I could not and would not be able to decide now, whether I would veto a pork laden Congressional budget bill. I don’t know what condition the economy or country will be in by the time the Congressional reconciliation Bill arrives on the President’s desk.

    Posted by: David R. Remer at March 5, 2009 12:59 AM
    Comment #276875
    David R. Remer wrote: d.a.n, just to be sure we are talking about the same budget. When you say 2009, are you referring to the Omnibus bill left incomplete from last year’s budget 2008-2009 for Pres. Bush’s last budget? Or, the budget request submitted by Pres. Obama, to go into effect Oct. 1, 2009 through 2010?
    • (1) The $787 Billion 17-FEB-2009 Stimulus BILL (Economic Recovery and Reinvestment Act);
    • (2) The $410 Billion Fiscal 2009 BILL containing over 8,000 earmarks;
    • (3) And the Obama’s Budget projecting more deficits and rising debt for 10-to-12 more years. They clearly don’t think the current debt is near (if not already) untenable. David Walker (form U.S. Comptroller/GAO) and other economists disagree.
    David R. Remer wrote: If I were president, I could not and would not be able to decide now, whether I would veto a pork laden Congressional budget bill. I don’t know what condition the economy or country will be in by the time the Congressional reconciliation Bill arrives on the President’s desk.
    Regardless of conditions, (a) a campaign promise should not be broken to allow more pork-barrel, because (b) pork-barrel wastes resources needed for higher-priority problems.

    Congress has little (if any) clue about priorities (among other things), as evidenced by their handiwork (One-Simple-Idea.com/NeverWorse.htm).

    At any rate, the voters have the government that the voters elect (and re-elect, and re-elect, and re-elect , … , at least until that finally becomes too painful).

    Posted by: d.a.n at March 5, 2009 1:34 PM
    Comment #276886

    David,

    I have not denied your statistics. My posts have tried to explore the causative factors for why your statistics are true. They have broad basis in the research community. From their I tried to outline some approaches that would help ameliorate the very statistics that you are citing.

    As an analogy, your posts state that there is a near absolute correlation between teenage pregnancy and sex. My posts are trying to explain why teenagers have sex and what we can do try to stop it. Your responses keep coming back to but they must have had sex to get pregnant.

    You have either not read my posts, understood them, or want to understand them.

    Posted by: Rob at March 5, 2009 3:20 PM
    Comment #276901
    Rob wrote: g) No more than 10% of the Federal funds may be used for administrative costs
    I think some limits like that are a good idea. Posted by: d.a.n at March 5, 2009 7:01 PM
    Comment #277787

    With respect to your Mar 1 criticism of the Interior appropriation “$350,000 by Rep. John Dingell (D-MI), for the River Raisin Revolutionary War Battlefield. This battle took place in 1813, long after the Revolutionary War ended.” (comment 276480)

    Nowhere has it been suggested that this has anything to do with the Revolutionary War (words you’ve apparently inserted in the short title for the appropriation). The battlefield in question was the scene of an important engagement of the War of 1812. Ever hear of it? I suppose few have, and that’s one reason it is being proposed as a National Park unit—to help inform the public about that forgotten period of our history. You’re welcome to your opinion about whether the funds are worth spending. Some think that an NPS presence in Monroe will create jobs, bolster tourism, and be good for the local economy, but that’s open to debate. I would suggest, however, that you check your “facts” and get them right before leveling criticism.

    Posted by: ven at March 16, 2009 4:47 PM
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