20 March 2007

Congress - Quarterly Progress Report

Congressional majority, you should know better than most that where we democrats differ greatly with many republicans is in our refusal to unconditionally defend our side. I find it so amusing when talking heads on the right (of the Sean Hannity ilk) gleefully prattle away on "Those whacko democrats--there they go eating their own again", as if that were an insult.

You bet your ass we do. And Congress would do well to remember that.

Mr. and Mrs. Blue Majority, it's time you realize you are accountable to a savvy constituency who will be relentless in demanding you make good on your promises.

We offered you our greatest asset--our vote.

You assume Democrats will now see this as "mission accomplished" merely because we saw to your Congressional majority. You are wrong. We gave you your 100 hours to spread your wings and strut your stuff but our job didn't end with that, it began with that. You are now charged with overseeing the health and dignity of our homeland and the American existence. When you said you could remind us what it looks like to do that with competence and righteous dedication - we believed.

Put in slightly more stern language, we got you that seat, and we can take it away.

There are a few issues that need to be addressed. Pelosi first disappointed us with her support of Murtha as Majority Leader. It was an unfortunate, out-of-the-gate decision. You promised us a corruption clean-up and we expected at least the appearance of clean choices. So, the questionable backing of Murtha was hardly in line with your zero-corruption platform, however, we had not even thrown away our election yard signs yet so that wound up largely seen as one of those regrettable decisions one makes out of fierce personal loyalty.

And then...

What do you say we re-visit the earmark issue? Bush submitted a defense budget request on Feb. 5th that includes a $103 billion emergency supplemental measure to cover the cost of operations in the war on terror for fiscal 2007. A valid debate began on tightening the purse strings as a method of reeling in the administration’s reckless "surging" in Iraq. Cutting off funding, restricting funding, and limiting the 2002 use of force authorization to only that which it allowed, were all debates we were hearing. What we wound up with was Congress trading high impact solutions for negotiating power. Instead of telling this administration "No, we realize you are not accustomed to that word--but NO", they said "Yes, the administration gets unfettered and unrestricted funding for this maniacal surge as long as we can tack on a couple billion for what we want."

Here are spending provisions congress has added to the bill:

$500 million for emergency wildfires suppression; the Forest Service currently has $831 million for this purpose;
$400 million for rural schools;
$283 million for the Milk Income Loss Contract program;
$120 million to compensate for the effects of Hurricane Katrina on the shrimp and menhaden fishing industries;
$100 million for citrus assistance;
$74 million for peanut storage costs;
$60.4 million for salmon fisheries in the Klamath River region in California and Oregon;
$50 million for asbestos mitigation at the U.S. Capitol Plant;
$48 million in salaries and expenses for the Farm Service Agency;
$35 million for NASA risk mitigation projects in Gulf Coast;
$25 million for spinach growers;
$25 million for livestock;
$20 million for Emergency Conservation Program for farmland damaged by freezing temperatures;
$16 million for security upgrades to House of Representatives office buildings;
$10 million for the International Boundary and Water Commission for the Rio Grande Flood Control System Rehabilitation project;
$6.4 million for House of Representative’s Salaries and Expenses Account for business continuity and disaster recovery expenses;
$5 million for losses suffered by aquaculture businesses including breeding, rearing, or transporting live fish as a result of viral hemorrhagic septicemia;
$4 million for the Office of Women’s Health at the Food and Drug Administration

1. This sends a message to the administration that when you are presented with a real opportunity to thwart some of this insanity, you would rather see if allowing it can buy you special interest money, a pay raise, and new offices.

2. Some of what is being tacked onto this bill is the subject of separate legislation. There should be no padding of an emergency spending bill. The allocation of funds here should at least resemble an emergency. New Orleans is still a historic American city in ruins but $74 million for peanut storage costs constitutes an American emergency?

3. You are taking a sledge hammer to another promise. Fiscal restraint and responsibility, and a commitment to earmark reform.

And then...

Where is the outrage we saw before the election? Where is that strong language that convinced us you were our vehicle for change and accountability? Knowing this was "the" American trigger point, you talked about little else...until you won the power to do something about it. Now we are hearing a much softer tone wrapped in obfuscation. Am I delusional or have I really heard "Well, the American people don't want to see drastic movement out of Iraq." "Well, the American people don't want us to get bogged down in hearings and investigations."

Oh yes the hell we do. It's the reason we gave you our votes.

I understand that our issues will be "politicized", there is no avoiding that. When we were talking about war funding, I understood that cutting funds would be a terribly difficult political decision because of how that would be spun. I never imagined you would opt for no action at all. That funding should have been restricted enough to force actions that would bring about an end in sight. You are now facilitating this President in offering up more American targets in an Iraqi civil war of his making. How do you want history to answer the inevitable question - "How could they have allowed this to continue?"

Where is the accountability? I am tired of the excuses. Americans believe in accountability. I doubt there is a single American who would say they feel the President is held to a lower standard than the people are. We cannot set this type of precedent for abuse of executive power. This President's actions must be held to account. They must be investigated and impeachment must be put back on the table. Don't make a complete cynic of me by forcing me to believe you may want the door to executive abuses to remain open for the next President.

If in politics, perception is reality; your days as our hope for change are slipping away from you. The perception is that you rode the wave of war dissention all the way to Congressional majority. Perhaps you see that as a wedge issue that will guarantee you the White House in '08. That wave will have long receded by then. Actually solving what were wedge issues will be the fastest road to the White House.

Technorati Tags:
, , , , , , , , , , , , , ,


No comments: