There will be factual but misleading commentary and quotations in the coming week condemning the elected Congressional representatives from Oklahoma for accepting Federal assistance in the recovery from the EF-5 tornado that utterly destroyed much of the small Oklahoma town of Moore. These statements will claim that those Oklahoma politicians who had voted down the initial $50 Billion aid package to assist the Hurricane Sandy victims in New York and the Northeast when it was before Congress are now being simply greedy in expecting funds for the recovery from the tornado. The main targets will be these conservative Republicans; Senator Tom Coburn, Senator James M. Inhofe, Representative Jim Bridenstine, Representative Markwayne Mullin, and Representative James Lankford. Both Representative Frank Lucas and Representative Tom Cole will be free from blame as they supported this legislation, well, they may receive a pass now but come the next election this vote may be used against them for supporting such massive unnecessary pork included in this legislation. And it is the included pork spending which makes the blame game unprincipled and purely a political witch hunt in an attempt to gain political points by disregarding the actual truth.
The legislation which allocated generous funding to assist and enable full recovery from much of the damages incurred during Hurricane Sandy still did not utilize even half of the $50 Billion. The greater part of these funds went to numerous projects or to supplement existing programs which had absolutely nothing to do with hurricane Sandy. Many of the expenditures went to numerous states and locations untouched by Hurricane Sandy and even to some which have never been touched by any hurricane in recorded history. These were the expenditures which the Oklahomans in the House of Representatives and the Senate voted against and they had made their positions very clear back in Oklahoma. Furthermore, there is not going to even be a vote on relief aid for the tornado that struck Moore, Oklahoma as FEMA has a surplus of funds at this point and all outlays will fall well within already allocated emergency funds set aside for just such emergencies. The difference for Hurricane Sandy was in order to fund the repairs after that disaster had to come from spending above and beyond allocated spending thus the discussion was to allocate supplemental spending. This is a normal situation which has happened before and will happen again in the future simply because some years storm and other emergency disaster recovery allocations are less than budgeted and other years it will exceed allocated spending. The evil which is hidden in the example of Hurricane Sandy was the practice of attaching additional spending for pet items, most often funding items within a Senator or Representatives State or District, often to reward major financial supporters of their campaigns, to legislation which is obviously necessary such as emergency spending, defense budgets, and other pressing or popular legislations thus guaranteed to pass. This is a convenient and efficient way of hiding what is in reality unnecessary expenditures from discussion, debate, or media coverage while guaranteeing passage and allocation of these somewhat nefarious spending items which would suffer defeat and embarrassment if their sponsors were to submit legislation solely for the approval of such expenditures.
The hiding of pork and pet project spending within unrelated legislation is an old trick of the political class but has, like so many other underhanded and circuitous measures, exploded over the last fifty years. There is another legislative misdirection used by politicians by which they pass legislation for items which they are fully aware that should they support it straight out they would be pounded come the next election as their constituents would hold their feet to the fire for supporting something the voters would find undesirable, odious even. What is done is there are three versions of the legislation presented for consideration, each one worded just sufficiently different to make each one appear to be different. This can be accomplished by changing technical terms or making less direct references within the bill such that it is a difference without a difference. Then our Representatives and Senators can vote against at least one variation while they agree on which one will be passed, maybe all three will be passed and still allow any who need to have cover for opposing the legislation is also met. Another misdirection used was a favorite of retired Texas Representative Ron Paul who would add copious amounts of pork to guaranteed to pass comfortably legislation and then he would make a grand pontification denouncing all the pork in said piece of legislation and, after demanding a roll call vote, proudly vote against the legislation into which he had placed the pork for his district. When his reelection campaign was hitting the home stretch he could wave his vote against a bill containing pork for his own district as dyed in the wool anti-pork purist despite knowing full well that the pork would safely pass and his district receive the largess he intended for them. Representative Ron Paul was one of the most successful practitioners of this method of deceit.
These are simply a pair of ways our Senators and Representatives mislead and outright lie to us and still manage to do every dirty little trick necessary in order to build government and spend all of the citizens’ tax monies to buy the votes to keep them in their cushy jobs in Washington or each state capital. There is one method which will never see the light of day unless “We the People” demand that such be made into law, or better yet, made into a constitutional Amendment. What is necessary to end these practices is single item legislation requirement where each piece of legislation must state exactly the measure or condition it will address and then every article, addendum, and amendment must be justified as to how it addresses the defined subject of the legislation. Such constricting rules will never be imposed by our elected representatives because such would end much of their little games and secrets through which they enrich their big money supporters and even often find channels that put more cash directly into their own wallets. Single item legislative requirement would not be the end and cure-all but it would be a solid step towards curbing runaway spending which we currently suffer from in almost immeasurable amounts. Once we have corralled the spendaholics in our government, perhaps then things will become easier to observe, then further steps towards honest and forthright political service can be demanded and excesses finally be rendered to the past. Everybody is allowed to dream and sometimes that first step, the dream, can lead to actual achievements. Truth be told, if you never dream it, you will never achieve it, so let’s get the dreams started and the necessary changes introduced into the discussion.
Beyond the Cusp