Third Party & Independents Archives

A Tale of Pork and Resolutions...

As this year comes to an end, I am taking a moment to reflect upon Pork and Resolutions. While Democrats and Republicans are quick to point out the behavior of the “other guy”, it is something that these career politicians can not resist. There are of course those who try to resist the temptation, but just as in mythology when mariners were lured into certain disaster by Parthenope; most of these politicians cannot seem to resist the siren call to bring home the bacon or create a resolution for those back home.

This year the Senate wrote 28 Joint Resolutions, 339 Resolutions, and 73 Concurrent resolutions; or 8.8 per Senator. A few of the most recent ones that caught my eye:

S.CON.RES.71
Title: A concurrent resolution expressing the sense of Congress that States should require candidates for driver's licenses to demonstrate an ability to exercise greatly increased caution when driving in the proximity of a potentially visually impaired individual. Sponsor: Sen Akaka, Daniel K. [HI] (introduced 12/15/2005)

S.RES.310
Title: A resolution honoring the life, legacy, and example of Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin on the tenth anniversary of his death. Sponsor: Sen Lautenberg, Frank R. [NJ] (introduced 11/10/2005)

S.RES.326
Title: A resolution designating November 27, 2005, as "Drive Safer Sunday." Sponsor: Sen Chambliss, Saxby [GA] (introduced 11/18/2005)

S.RES.329
Title: A resolution congratulating Coach Bill Snyder for his achievements during 17 years as the head football coach of the Kansas State University Wildcats. Sponsor: Sen Roberts, Pat [KS] (introduced 11/18/2005)

The House wrote many more Resolutions than the Senate, 75 Joint Resolutions, 634 Resolutions and 324 Concurrent Resolutions; however since there are more House members that leaves us with 2.37 per House Member. These include:

H.CON.RES.305
Title: Recognizing the vital importance of hunting as a legitimate tool of wildlife resource management. Sponsor: Rep Green, Mark [WI-8] (introduced 11/17/2005)

H.CON.RES.314
Title: Recognizing the artistic excellence and community value of a national service organization for the performing arts and how this community improves diplomacy through global cultural exchange by the celebration of humanity's transcendent power to imagine and create across geographic, political and cultural borders. Sponsor: Rep Shays, Christopher [CT-4] (introduced 12/8/2005)

H.CON.RES.325
Title: Congratulating Oprah Winfrey for her 20 years of exemplary work and service to the people of the United States and the world. Sponsor: Rep Davis, Danny K. [IL-7] (introduced 12/17/2005)

H.RES.605
Title: Recognizing the life of Preston Robert Tisch and his outstanding contributions to New York City, the New York Giants Football Club, the National Football League, and the United States. Sponsor: Rep Fossella, Vito [NY-13] (introduced 12/14/2005)

H.RES.615
Title: Expressing the sense of the House of Representatives that the symbols and traditions of Hanukkah, Ramadan, and Kwanzaa should be protected. Sponsor: Rep Israel, Steve [NY-2] (introduced 12/15/2005)

H.RES.617
Title: Supporting the goals and ideals of National Teen Dating Violence Awareness and Prevention Week. Sponsor: Rep Millender-McDonald, Juanita [CA-37] (introduced 12/15/2005)

H.RES.638
Title: Congratulating Bill Gates, Melinda Gates and Bono for being named Time Magazine's 2005 Person of the Year. Sponsor: Rep Waters, Maxine [CA-35] (introduced 12/18/2005)

Now on to the Pork portion of our search into 2005, it was of course much more plentiful than the Resolutions. In selecting just one recent bill alone, some of the bacon crispy goodness that will be added to the weight of the already in danger of cardiac arrest federal budget is amazing. These tasty tidbets came from a statement by Senator John McCain:

$500,000 to teach science to grade-school students in Pennsylvania

$3.85 million for the Intrepid Sea-Air-Space Foundation

$4.4 million for a Technology Center in Missouri

$1 million to an Civil War Center in Richmond, Virginia

$850,000 for an education center and public park in Des Moines, Iowa

$2 million for a public park in San Francisco

$500,000 for the Arctic Winter Games, an international athletic competition held this year in Alaska

And museums are popular this year – there’s $1.5 million for an aviation museum in Seattle, $1.35 million for an aviation museum in Hawaii, $1 million for a museum in Pennsylvania, and $3 million for the museum at Fort Belvoir. There’s also $1.5 million for restoring the Battleship Texas.

$242,000 for a wildlife habitat education program in conjunction with the National Wild Turkey Federation in Illinois, which is dedicated to conserving wild turkeys and preserving our nation’s hunting heritage.

$100,000 for the Trees Forever Program in Iowa – an organization with a laudable mission statement – it claims to be an organization that not only plants and cares for trees, but also addresses the challenges facing our communities and the environment – but hardly one that should be funded in a Defense Appropriations bill.

$400,000 for dairy waste remediation in Louisiana

$600,000 for conservation related to cranberry production in Massachusetts and Wisconsin. Conservation related to cranberry production. Remarkable.

$200,000 for Weed It Now-Taconic Mountains (MA/NY/CT). Weed It Now, I am told, is an effort to remove invasive plants from the forest habitat of the Berkshire Taconic plateau. I am a strong supporter of the Global War on Weeds, Mr. President, but this earmark does not belong in this bill.

I'd strongly recommend reading Senator McCain's whole statement, especially if you appreciate sarcastic humor. It would of course be much more humorous if this wasn't something that happened often, too often. Lauding cuts as demonstrating some much needed "fiscal responsibility" while adding projects such as these make a mockery of the whole concept of "reduction". While our government has seemed to relish it's robbing Peter to pay Paul principle, this year I believe they have it down into an art form.

If one had to choose between Resolutions congratulating Oprah Winfrey or Pork, I think we can all agree while the Resolutions are for the most part a waste of time Congress could be spending on more important issues, if it keeps them from spending more time adding Pork? Please good Congresspeople...become more "resolutionary"....

Posted by Lisa Renee Ward at December 23, 2005 6:57 PM
Comments
Comment #106926

I didn’t read all of Sen. McCain’s statement. Just glanced trough as I don’t have time right now.
However, if the amount of pork attached to this bill is right, it’s no wonder the Defense Bill is so high.
Back about 15 - 20 years ago congress passed a piece of pork to spend around $250,000 for a study as to why kids fall off tricycles. The conclusion was because they do.
They also voted to spend around $1,000,000 to study the sweat oder of Austrailian Aborigionis.
I’m sure sense then they found some things even more stupid to waste money on.

Posted by: Ron Brown at December 23, 2005 8:23 PM
Comment #106929

I agree Ron, and if I listed all of my “favorite” resolutions and pork projects it would end up being a novel. So I decided to leave it with just a taste.

:-)

Posted by: Lisa Renee at December 23, 2005 8:34 PM
Comment #106966

Lisa,

Just curious. What problems exactly do you have with the resolutions? They don’t cost anything except a couple of minutes of floor time for the Representatives.

The pork…well that’s another matter.

Posted by: Burt at December 23, 2005 11:43 PM
Comment #107034

Burt, I have to disagree. The time they spent in preaparting those resolutions, and reading them on floor of Congress would be immensely better spent debating any number in a plethora of far more important and vital issues to the majority of Americans like, poverty (which is costing us more than it would to minimize it), or establishing policy on federal bailouts for those choosing to rebuild in KNOWN natural destruction zones after a catastrophe, or our extremely tentative position in the globalization shift taking place in the worlds job markets, or crime and prisons which are busting our bank in perpetuity, or border security, and a host of others.

The opportunity cost of appeasing small minority constituent groups while ignoring the huge problems facing all Americans and their future, is too large. These Congress people have forgotten that they represent the nation, and as goes the nation, so goes the futures of their constituents.

It is long passed time to kick incumbents out of office and replace them with politicians who either get it and address our nation’s problems with pragmatic and effective solutions, or in their turn get kicked out of office as well. Nothing so motivates a politician like reelection, and no greater power hath the voter over politician’s than an anti-incumbent vote.

Posted by: David R. Remer at December 24, 2005 5:07 AM
Comment #107053

The hypocrisy of Pork Spending extends to the rest of us as well. While people like you, Lisa Renee Ward, curse politicians and their corruption, it is also you who elect these people.

The Alaskan Bridge to Nowhere is the perfect example. I am sure Alaskans spend their time whining about Pork Spending. How many do you think will complain about the bridge? Will they elect someone else?

We create the monster. We are responsible.

Posted by: Aldous at December 24, 2005 7:05 AM
Comment #107071
The hypocrisy of Pork Spending extends to the rest of us as well. While people like you, Lisa Renee Ward, curse politicians and their corruption, it is also you who elect these people.

That is so true. I live in John Boehner’s congressional district, which is very Republican. To the congressman’s credit, he not only refused to seek pork for his own district, he voted against the highway bill in protest to the pork going elsewhere. So what happens back home? Good, solid, small government Republicans complain that Mr. Boehner is not doing enough to see that we’re getting our share of the federal pie.

We’ll never win the battle against pork when even people who need nothing from government cry when they don’t get it.

Posted by: Paul Szydlowski at December 24, 2005 9:16 AM
Comment #107074
The opportunity cost of appeasing small minority constituent groups while ignoring the huge problems facing all Americans and their future, is too large. These Congress people have forgotten that they represent the nation, and as goes the nation, so goes the futures of their constituents.

Ok, David. We’re aware that you feel that virtually no member of Congress has ever done anything right. But these complaints about resolutions just strike me as petty.

Although there are better uses for their time, the Congressmen can’t debate poverty every waking minute of the day. Ever take a personal phone call at work? Maybe you should fired.

As you state, there are lots of important things to worry about in this country. Maybe you should take your own advice and concentrate on those issues and not the unimportant like Congressional resolutions.

Posted by: Burt at December 24, 2005 9:26 AM
Comment #107086

Burt, there are several reasons I am not a fan of “ego” type resolutions. First of all some of these resolutions are just plain silly. Unless Congress is doing this to provide us with some sort of entertainment value, there is a backlog caused in part by such resolutions. Not just on the floor of the Senate or the House but in each committee that these resolutions are passed on to.

That said, I would as I stated be happier with more Resolutions than Pork. Resolutions most times are being used to express an opinion by one or a few Congresspersons. Yet they do have the ability to release press releases, talk to local media, etc.

While I typically don’t vote for any of these people anyway even before VOID, I agree as a general statement we as voters are responsible which is why I point this out. So that we are aware of what they are actually doing, hopefully to create more incentive to help end some of this endless cycle.

I write at times to make people look “Oh! Come and see the waste inherent in the system!”


Posted by: Lisa Renee at December 24, 2005 10:32 AM
Comment #107110

We’ll never win the battle against pork when even people who need nothing from government cry when they don’t get it.

Posted by: Paul Szydlowski at December 24, 2005 09:16 AM

That’s the problem. Everyone want Uncle Sap to pat for their monuments to thenselves.
If something is needed and will benifit the rest of the country it’s not pork to spend money on it. But nothing in these pork bills laden bills benifit anyone but the locals. If they want it, let them pay for it themselves or do without.

Posted by: Ron Brown at December 24, 2005 12:00 PM
Comment #107136

Ron Brown, absolutely right. States have their own governments and taxing authority and budgets. I understand the federal gov’t. spending EVERYONE’s federal tax dollars on things that affect the whole of the U.S. or large regions which individual states cannot deal with either logistically, legally, or financially (Katrina for example). But, local museums? NO federal dollars should be going for state projects like museums or crop managment or bridges to islands serving less than 500 people who already have a fully functional ferry to carry them across in minutes.

Sen. Ted Stevens is an arch enemy of every American who wants to halt deficit spending and for the federal government to act fiscally responsible. Incumbents like Ted Stevens absolutely must be booted out of office before our federal fiscal mess can be dealt with.

Posted by: David R. Remer at December 24, 2005 1:55 PM
Comment #107142

And, how would any in Congress explain this?
Does any of that look responsible?
No. It doesn’t. I demonstrates how pathetically irresponsible the federal government is. And it is getting worse. But that’s a given. Governments are always trying to grow more corrupt. It’s sadly just a fact of human nature. But, it’s all the more reason for voters to never ignore government, because it invites abuse. Still, it is getting worse, and we, the voters, have allowed it to grow too corrupt. And the longer we allow it, the worse it will be to reform. The longer we allow it, the more secretive and less transparent all processes and procedures become. Transparency is always the first victim. The reduction and/or elimination of transparency allows for more abuse, and little or no accountability.

Our federal government is so corrupt now, even if someone in Congress or the Executive Branch is convicted of a crime, they usually get a presidential pardon. Even after some felons have pled guilty! Thus, there is also no accountability.

Without Transparency and Accountability, we now have no Responsibility.

It’s not as complicated as those in government always try to portray everything. Why do they always try to over-complicate everything? So that they can abuse it, and reduce transparency and accountability, and utilimately, never be held responsible.

On top of all that, government is FOR SALE.
Who among those in Congress turn down big money donors?
Who among those in Congress don’t vote on pork-barrel?
Who among those in Congress don’t make back room deals and questionable book deals?
Who among those in Congress don’t peddle influence?
Who among those in Congress don’t look the other way?
Who among those in Congress fiscally responsible?
Who among those in Congress even knows how many zeros are in a trillion?
Who among those in Congress doesn’t highly covet their cu$hy seats of power?
Who among those in Congress don’t vote themselves rai$e$ and perk$ and a cu$hy retirement plan (separate from Social Security and Medicare)?
Why can’t Congress eliminate the Marraige penalty tax, but can vote themselves a rai$e in a heart-beat ?
Why can’t Congress reform the abused tax system ? Who takes advantage of all those tax loop holes ?
Why can’t Congress secure the borders. It would only require resources we already have (about 1% of the 2.6 million troops, guard, and reserves; enough for a troop every 1320 feet)?
Why can’t Congress stop plundering Social Security and Medicare?
Why can’t Congress stop pandering and promising more entitlements just to buy votes?

I keep asking people to name a few honest politicians.
I can’t even get any one to provide more than two or three names.
That’s because all of Congress looks the other way.
Almost all are fiscally and morally bankrupt.
They ignore the people.
They only listen to their big-money-donors.
How can the average American have a voice in government when
5% of the U.S. population has 60% of all wealth and
60% of the U.S. population has only 5% of all wealth?
They can’t. Not when money controls government.
That’s what makes our government rotten to the core.
Government lacks transparency to yield accountability to yield responsibility.

Why do politicians continue to reject CAMPAIGN FINANCE REFORM ?
Why do politicians continue to reject ELECTION REFORM ?
Why do politicians continue to reject ONE PURPOSE PER BILL ?
Why do politicians continue to reject TAX REFORM ?
Why do politicians continue to put the party voting lever in voting booths ?
Why do politicians continue to block access to ballots, debates, and the democratic process for 3rd parties and independents ?
Why do politicians continue to allow illegal aliens into the U.S. ? (a Dallas policeman was murdered by an illegal alien 11/13/2005).
Why do politicians continue to spend, borrow, print money, grow the debt and government ever larger, to nightmare proportions?
Why do politicians continue to ignore the National Debt and these many pressing problems ?

Why? Because without sufficient transparency and accountability, government continues to steadily grow increasingly corrupt.

The voters have a very simple solution, but the voters are at a disadvantage, because:
(1) Voters are brainwashed to vote the party line. Voters are seduced into the circular pattern of petty partisan warfare, and ironically continue to empower those that use and abuse the voters.
(2) Voters are complacent, apathetic, and lazy. They won’t do anything until it is usually too late.
(3) Voters aren’t yet feeling the inevitable pain of 25 years of fiscal irresponsibility; but they will start feeling it in the next 5-to-10 years.
(4) Voters can’t organize to do the most simple, safe, non-partisan, inexpensive, responsible thing they should have been doing all along; simply vote out irresponsible incumbents without regard for party, and continue to do it until government makes the system transparent enough for voters to know who is responsible, and who is not. And, provide Congress and the Executive Branch a To-Do-List of common-sense, no-brainer, constructive tasks to perform to prove they are not still ignoring the voters (i.e. such as ONE PURPOSE PER BILL, CAMPAIGN FINANCE REFORM, ELECTION REFORM, TAX REFORM, etc.).

Posted by: d.a.n at December 24, 2005 2:09 PM
Comment #107146

Also, Senator McCain voted for $1 million for the non-poisonous brown tree snake in Guam.

I’m sure the brown tree snake problem is a nuisance, but should that be sneaked into the end of a defense appropriations BILL ?

That’s the problem without a ONE PURPOSE PER BILL amendment. All sorts of pork-barrel, graft, bribes, pandering, and waste find their way into BILLs consisting of thousands of pages that no one sufficiently scrutinizes, and makes it impossible for the voters to know why anyone voted for or against the BILL.

Don’t get me wrong. Of all those in Congress, Senator McCain is one of the very few that I don’t think (though I can’t be for certain) is corrupt. But, I’ve even heard John McCain say that he looks the other way.

So, I personally don’t think any incumbents deserve to stay, and incumbents should be ousted, and that is the price they all should pay, for looking the other way.

Posted by: d.a.n at December 24, 2005 2:17 PM
Comment #107150

$19,000,000 to study cow farts and shit? I’ll tell them for a 1/16 of that both stink.

Posted by: Ron Brown at December 24, 2005 2:32 PM
Comment #107164

I wasn’t holding Senator McCain up as a icon of virtue when it comes to pork, I just got the information from that one bill from his statement and thought it was worth passing on. To list the items and not credit him as a source to me would not be proper.

He as well as quite a few of them are guilty of trying to give the “voting yes because of a greater virtue” situation which has allowed pork to prosper.

Posted by: Lisa Renee at December 24, 2005 4:38 PM
Comment #107179

Great Post Lisa Renee,

The resolutions are fairly harmless, although they do waste time and some money. I’m very concerned about the earmarks or “pork” that continually finds itself attached to appropriation bills. We have got to begin demanding that appropriation bills are only for the subject area (i.e. defense, transportation, etc.) they cover and not to include superfluous attachments that have no sensible relevance to the appropriation. The only way to do this is to vote in representatives that will pledge to do so upon pain of being voted out of office the next time. This is a will of the people issue. Everybody wants to control spending in the abstract. No one wants to lose their earmarks. Representatives are mirror images of their constituents. When we get voters demanding better behavior and are willing to sacrifice the bridge, museum, or whatever, we’ll see change. Until then, we need the press, the blogosphere and some brave politicians to take up the banner of the late Senator William Proxmire. His “Golden Fleece” awards regarding defense overspending were priceless. It would be a different congress and senate if every time someone proposed one of these ridiculous earmarks a member of their body (house or senate) stood up and called it what it was. Hail Senator McCain for doing so on occasion. We need more of this kind of behavior.

Posted by: Dennis at December 24, 2005 6:37 PM
Comment #107286

Dennis said: “The only way to do this is to vote in representatives that will pledge to do so upon pain of being voted out of office the next time.”

Absolutely right, Dennis. And the first step is voting out all incumbents, or so many that the Dem. and Rep. parties recognize that their desire to be a majority party depends DIRECTLY upon nominating candidates who will oppose the pork and reflect NOT just the interests of their local constituents, but, all Americans. What is good for all Americans will be good for local consituents as well in the long run.

Fiscal responsibility will be good for America including local constituents who may have to give up their local pork museum project. It is up to the voters to alter the thinking of political parties as to how they can keep their incumbents in office. That can only happen if millions of voters vote against incumbents on the general principle and truth that all that is corrupt in government is maintained by incumbents who won’t buck the corrupt system. I encourage those who understand this to be true, to skip on over to Vote Out Incumbents for Democracy to do their part to help get this message out.

Posted by: David R. Remer at December 25, 2005 4:28 AM
Comment #107408

I watched a Thomas Sowell interview yesterday in which he made the comment that the only good reason to vote for Republicans is the Democrats. It was a pretty funny remark, but I think it contains a great truth.

Fiscal irresponsibility knows no party, and I’m not at all convinced that simply throwing the rascals out would make any difference at all. Democrats get to take the blame when they’re in the majority and Republicans get to do the same when they’re running things. A hypothetical coalition of independents and either of the two major parties would most likely yield the same results. The big money wheel just keeps on turnin’ inside the beltway. A list of Robert Byrd projects, named for him and paid for with your tax dollars is just one small sampling.

Many of us walk into the voting booth and choose the lesser of two (or least of several) evils. It’s about all you can do.

Posted by: Owl Creek Observer at December 25, 2005 9:49 PM
Comment #108080

I thought this was interesting, from the Cato Daily Dispatch:

Chris Edwards, director of tax policy studies at the Cato Institute, comments: “Passage of the bill is an important symbolic victory for fiscal conservatives in Congress, but the bill would reduce baseline spending by just a microscopic 0.3%. Note also that the bill would not actually ‘cut’ spending, it would just slightly reduce the explosive growth in programs such as Medicare and Medicaid.

.3%….I suppose that is better than an increase….

Posted by: Lisa Renee at December 27, 2005 3:19 PM
Comment #108136

Owl Creek, NO! there is another alternative. Vote against whichever evil is in power. Trust me, their replacements will get the message, for their replacements will not want to get the same treatment when they run for reelection.

The logic is inescapable.

Posted by: David R. Remer at December 27, 2005 4:30 PM
Comment #108180

I know that all 535 members of Congress are guilty of pork. And a lot of it. But does anyone know who is King or Queen of pork? Just kinda wondering.

Pork isn’t going to be elimineated until WE the People bring eliminate it. The only way I know to do this is vote ALL 535 members of Congress out and replace them with canidates that understand that WE THE PEOPLE tell THEM what WE want. Not them telling ue what we want.

Posted by: Ron Brown at December 27, 2005 6:33 PM
Comment #108233

Interesting site…

Porker of the Month

Citizens Against Government Waste (CAGW) today named Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) the December Porker of the Month for earmarking almost $36 million in the fiscal 2006 Energy and Water Appropriations bill for 17 energy-related projects in his home state. As ranking member of the Appropriations Subcommittee on Energy and Water Development, Sen. Reid diverted about one-fifth of the National Renewable Energy Laboratory’s budget to projects in his home state.

Past members

Posted by: Lisa Renee at December 27, 2005 11:39 PM
Comment #108646

Thanks for the links Lisa. I find it interesting that your last link verifies what’s been said by me and severial others on this blog.
No one party has the corner on the pork market. They’reALL guilty.

Posted by: Ron Brown at December 28, 2005 6:18 PM
Comment #108793

No problem Ron and I agree neither side can pretend they are “lean”. That site has quite a bit of interesting information. In the past I’ve been able to verify most of it as accurate.

:-)

Posted by: Lisa Renee at December 29, 2005 2:00 AM
Comment #109822

Yes, http://www.cagw.org is a good site.
Some people think pork-barrel is OK.
They fail to realize how it costs all of us.
Here’s just a few examples that demonstrate how terribily irresponsible Congress is. Much of that pork-barrel is corporate welfare (graft) and it never reaches the voters.

Posted by: d.a.n at January 2, 2006 5:45 PM
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