October 2, 2008
The Pork in the Bailout Bill
With all the language of doom and Armageddon on the economic front, and the need for fast action to "save the American economy", the Senate took time to put 350 pages of pork in the Economic Emergency Stabilization Act of 2008. The Senate added all the pork at the last minute and in a rush. Most Senators could not possibly have even read the act when they passed it. Some of the pork is humorous -- worrying about dishwasher and refrigerators, bicycle commuters, rum to Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands, wooden arrows (not laminate!!) for children's bow and arrow sets. Some of the pork is serious in its own right -- what should the Federal government pay to states in which there is federal, tax exempt land. No one, no one can sensibly claim that the pork deserved to be in the "emergency" bill on the economy.
Consider the discussion: Senator Guffaw states to Sen. Reid, "I am not going to vote for the bailout because taxpayers should not bail out fat cats that took excessive risks and paid themselves excessive salaries." Reid: "We are in a crisis--Bernanke says the economy could dissappear tommorow. I need your vote for the American people. Show leadership and courage." Senator Guffaw: "That's alot of insider hysteria put out but the fat cats that what to get bailed out. My phone calls are running 10 to 1 against the bailout." Senator Reid: "Tell you what. I will put a provision in the bill helping the wooden arrow factory in your state and put a provision in helping my state get more federal dollars for federal land. We'll both have something to take home." Senator Guffaw: "Now you're talking. I'll vote yes."
Is the Senate such an inside game that its members no longer know how bad this looks? Are do they know and not care?
October 2, 2008 | Permalink
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It just sticks in your craw! What can we the taxpayers do about it? It's pork and politics as usual. Nevermind that a majority of us had nothing to do with the financial debacle the country is in. Our so-called elected representatives don't give a damn about the economy. That's obvious with the billions of 'pork' added to the 'emergency' bailout bill just to get it to pass. What a joke government has become! Just bring it on home, brother!
Posted by: Fred Williams | Oct 3, 2008 4:42:50 PM
There needs to be a law passed that anything that gets attached to a bill the name of the person who attaches it and their supporters will be listed on the government website porkbarrel.gov with a description of what was attached. The American people need to know the names of these people and what they are doing or not doing for their constituents.
Posted by: William A Bentley | Oct 3, 2008 6:02:30 PM
There needs to be full disclosure of the names of the senators who added pork to the bailout bill.
Posted by: Debbi Griffith | Oct 5, 2008 3:36:39 PM
Like McCain said Make em' famous and know their names
Why are you relying on the government to police corruption? I say lets do what McCain said and
Get the names and faces of those who added porkbelly spending to the Bailout bill.
Lets create a website that post the legislators faces, names and what state they represent...... I bet if enough negative publicity is put out on them, they will not get re-elected. Why isn't the news doing reports on this?
I'm reading up on all the corruption that has taken place with companies like sallie mae who stole billions of dollars from the pockets of young people.
ANYONE WANT TO JOIN IN?
Posted by: Ray Woodard | Oct 5, 2008 10:32:12 PM
I just love the way you folks in the US describe sweeteners as Pork. Where did the use of the word pork come from? Can anyone give me the history?
Posted by: Mark keenan | Oct 6, 2008 3:57:15 AM
Wikipedia: The term "pork barrel politics" usually refers to spending that is intended to benefit constituents of a politician in return for their political support, either in the form of campaign contributions or votes. In a popular 1863 story, "The Children of the Public," Edward Everett Hale used the term "pork barrel" as a homely metaphor for any form of public spending to the citizenry. After the American Civil War, however, the term came to be used in a derogatory sense. The Oxford English Dictionary dates the modern sense of the term from 1873. By the 1870s, references to "pork" were common in Congress, and the term was further popularized by a 1919 article by Chester Collins Maxey in the National Municipal Review that reported certain legislative acts were known to members of Congress as "pork barrel bills," and claims that the phrase originated in a pre-Civil War practice of giving slaves a barrel of salt pork as a reward and requiring them to compete among themselves to get their share of the handout. More generally, a pork barrel (presumably holding the less-perishable salt pork) was a common larder item in 19th century households and could be used as a measure of the family's financial well-being. For example, in his 1845 novel The Chainbearer, James Fenimore Cooper wrote "I hold a family to be in a desperate way, when the mother can see the bottom of the pork barrel."
Posted by: John Hughes | Oct 6, 2008 7:34:00 PM
Well......who put in the pork?
Posted by: tj | Oct 6, 2008 7:49:51 PM
The problem with drawing attention to the politicians getting their pork into a bill rests with their constituents. The very people to benefit from the pork are those who will be voting that politician back into office. This could become a self-feeding nightmare. How to have each item stand on its own merit with no attachments allowed for any bill will remain a problem far into the future but I see that as the only way to end the practice.
A possible delay item would be to require those voting on a bill to take a test for their understanding of that bill before they would be allowed to vote. The test should be administered by a rotating, random draw, group from outside the legislative process. Questions should also be prepared by a different & unrelated group to reduce the chances of collusion between the three, writers, testers & test takers. Since testing on every bill in this manner would likely bring the process to a halt another alternative would be randomly selecting bills passed to test those who voted on the bill. If they fail the test their vote is removed. In the end the bill may fail and be removed from the law books. If those creating & passing our laws can't pass a test for their understanding why should we be held accountable for them.
Required sunset clauses would also thin the ranks of our laws dramatically. This could also be created for all laws already on the books. If a law has not been used for 2 or 3 decades perhaps its useful life has come to an end. Should we really be required to live by some laws passed over 100 years ago that have never been enforced, or successfully prosecuted, during the past 100 years and have no relevancy to the world of today? Let them pass into the past as interesting laws that were on the books. This alone should reduce the size of our law libraries dramatically.
Just a few musings on the general topic of our laws.
Posted by: James | Oct 23, 2008 9:25:38 AM