Michele Bachmann and the Truth About Republican Spending

Tea Party Caucus leader Michele Bachmann

“All Real Republicans Love the Sting of Spending.” That isn’t exactly what General Patton said; he was talking about the sting of battle. But the way Republicans (and for purposes of discussion I’m including Tea Partiers when I say Republicans) spend, you’d think it was a battle and they the most gung-ho ultra, soldiers in the world. These folks are in earnest. I mean, they’re serious shop-a-holics – über-spenders.

Is it any surprise, given the history of the past half-century, that some folks are, to say the least, a bit suspicious about the new round of Republic anti-spending rhetoric?

They have a right to be. The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee has a few not-so eye-openers for people, a celebration of sorts of the non-change the victorious GOP has brought to Washington:

Meet Your New (Old) GOP

They’re not even sworn in yet and the incoming House Republican Freshmen class is already looking a lot like the same old GOP that voters fired in 2006. Here is a quick recap of the incoming Republican House Committee Chairman:

  • Representative Hal “Prince of Pork” Rogers to chair the House Appropriations Committee, who pushed through 135 earmarks at a cost of $246 million in the past two years alone.
  • Representative Dave Camp, someone best known for protecting tax loopholes that reward big corporations for shipping American jobs overseas, to Chair the Ways and Means Committee.
  • Representative Spencer Bachus, chief Republican negotiator of the tea-party hated TARP bailout to lead the House Financial Services Committee.

Impressive, huh? Bet you’re glad you voted these guys in, America. Yeah, they promised us “real” change. But “at least nine incoming Republican Freshmen have hired K Street lobbyists as their top aides.”

I’m floored by their commitment, are you? Because nothing says NO SPENDING! like a lobbyist!

Grifters, the lot of them. Raping America – again.  Palin’s mouth must be watering, eyeing that calendar. She wants to cash in like the last Republican administration. She’s making money, sure, but its small change compared to having your own Haliburton and virtual immunity for your criminal behavior. She knows she can find a country to invade – Iran maybe, and invest in some “infrastructure spending” there, if you know what I mean, and I think you do.

At the end of November, the Senate voted down a Republican-sponsored measure to ban earmark spending (House Republicans had earlier placed a ban on earmarks). FOX News was able to joyously report the following (can you sense their gleeful anticipation?):

The 39-56 tally, however, was a better showing for earmark opponents, who lost a 29-68 vote earlier this year. Any votes next year should be closer because a band of anti-earmark Republicans is joining the Senate.

Is that right…? More Republicans are going to equal less spending? Because it’s those bad ole Democrats who do all the spending! And we know how much FOX News LOVES the Tea Party, those rugged populists fighting against government spending at every turn…

Gosh, speaking of the Tea Party…You’ve probably seen the news about the Tea Party and earmarks (“member-directed spending” is the euphemism they use on “the Hill”). Here’s a list to illustrate Tea Party opposition to earmarks (these are all 52 members of the Tea Party Caucus):

Aderholt (R-AL) – 69 – $78,263,000
Akin (R-MO) – 9 – $14,709,000
Alexander (R-LA) – 41 $65,395,000
Bachmann (R-MN) – 0 – 0
Barton (R-TX) -14 – $12,269,400
Bartlett (R-MD) – 19 – $43,060,650
Bilirakis (R-FL) – 14 – $13,600,000
R. Bishop (R-UT) – 47 – $93,980,000
Burgess (R-TX) – 15 – $15,804,400
Broun (R-GA) – 0 – 0
Burton (R-IN) – 0 – 0
Carter (R-TX) – 26 – $42,232,000
Coble (R-NC) – 19 – $18,755,000
Coffman (R-CO) – 0 – 0
Crenshaw (R-FL) – 37 – $54,424,000
Culberson (R-TX) – 22 – $33,792,000
Fleming (R-LA) – 10 – $31,489,000
Franks (R-AZ) – 8 – $14,300,000
Gingrey (R-GA) – 19 – $16,100,000
Gohmert (R-TX) – 15 – $7,099,000
S. Graves (R-MO) – 11 – $8,331,000
R. Hall (R-TX) – 16 – $12,232,000
Harper (R-MS) – 25 – $80,402,000
Herger (R-CA) – 5 – $5,946,000
Hoekstra (R-MI) – 9 – $6,392,000
Jenkins (R-KS) – 12 – $24,628,000
S. King (R-IA) – 13 – $6,650,000
Lamborn (R-CO) – 6 – $16,020,000
Luetkemeyer (R-MO) – 0 – 0
Lummis (R-WY) – 0 – 0
Marchant (R-TX) – 0 – 0
McClintock (R-CA) – 0 – 0
Gary Miller (R-CA) – 15 – $19,627,500
Jerry Moran (R-KS) – 22 – $19,400,000
Myrick (R-NC) – 0 – 0
Neugebauer (R-TX) – 0 – 0
Pence (R-IN) – 0 -0
Poe (R-TX) – 12 – $7,913,000
T. Price (R-GA) – 0 – 0
Rehberg (R-MT) – 88 – $100,514,200
Roe (R-TN) – 0 – 0
Royce (R-CA) – 7 – $6,545,000
Scalise (R-LA) – 20 – $17,388,000
P. Sessions (R-TX) – 0 – 0
Shadegg (R-AZ) – 0 – 0
Adrian Smith (R-NE) – 1 – $350,000
L. Smith (R-TX) – 18 – $14,078,000
Stearns (R-FL) – 17 – $15,472,000
Tiahrt (R-KS) – 39 – $63,400,000
Wamp (R-TN) – 14 – $34,544,000
Westmoreland (R-GA) – 0 – 0
Wilson (R-SC) – 15 – $23,334,000

TOTAL – 764 – $1,049,783,150

Drill baby drill; spend baby spend. You can see the depth of their commitment to…er, spending earmarks. You’d think conservatives would be, well…conservative about such things but they seem to spend, if you’ll pardon the expression, liberally.

In April, Citizens Against Government Waste (CAGW) released their 2010 Congressional Pig Book, in their own words “the group’s 20th anniversary exposé of pork-barrel spending.”  This edition of the Pig Book enumerated 9,129 earmarks worth $16.5 billion.

$16.5 billion is a tiny fraction of the federal budget. Let’s face it: eliminating earmarks entirely won’t fix the federal budget. But it’s an issue that gets people riled up because of the profligacy of some of the spending. Even if it’s important to the state or community in question, others are left lifting their eyebrows and wondering…why?

CAGW lists some examples:

  • $465,000,000 for the alternate engine for the Joint Strike Fighter;
  • $5,000,000 for the Presidio Heritage Center in California;
  • $1,000,000 for Portsmouth Music Hall in New Hampshire;
  • $400,000 for the USA Swimming Foundation in New Jersey;
  • $300,000 for Carnegie Hall in New York City;
  • $250,000 for the Monroe County Farmer’s Market in Kentucky;
  • $200,000 for the Washington National Opera in the District of Columbia; and
  • $206,000 for wool research in Montana, Texas, and Wyoming.

As you saw above, spending is a problem the Tea Party shares with the Republican Party (they share many things, of course). Michele Bachmann, leader of the Tea Party Caucus in Congress, wants to “redefine” earmarks. Bush was big about redefining things too. He’d redefine problems right out of existence. That’s what Bachman wants to do. If you change the definition, do a little tweaking here and there, you can keep spending wantonly yet still present yourself as a fiscal conservative.

Of course, you can also redefine problems out of existence in another way, by saying any Tea Partier who requested earmarks isn’t really a Tea Partier after all – because they requested earmarks. Michele Bachmann didn’t (though she requested $3.7 Million In Earmarks In 2008) – but she’s thinking about that potentially rickety bridge connection her home town of Stillwater to all those potential antique buyers on the Wisconsin side of the St. Croix.

Bachmann’s 2008 earmarks? Here’s just a few:

  • $94,000 for Sheriffs Youth Program of MN
  • $335,000 for Equipment Acquisition for Northland Medical Center
  • $803,000 for Replacement Small Buses, St. Cloud Metro Bus

That GOP ban we spoke of above? As Fox News says, it “would have effectively forbidden the Senate from considering legislation containing earmarks like road and bridge projects, community development funding, grants to local police departments and special-interest tax breaks.”

Yeah, no bridge over the St. Croix, Michele. Sorry.

The Tea Party backed itself into a corner with their anti-earmark rant. Earmarks are used for infrastructure support in this country. To fix bridges, in point of fact, among other things. Bachmann knows this. She knows that bridge is important. She knows that money to fix that bridge will come – has to come – from earmarks. Republicans, after all, hated the idea fielded by President Obama of spending stimulus money on infrastructure projects.

The solution is, for Bachmann, redefining some earmark spending as non-pork. According to the Pioneer Press,

Bachmann says Congress should exempt “roads, bridges and interchanges” and recommends that if a town, city, county or state approves a project, a lawmaker in Washington should be able to submit a request — a practice she says she has followed. Rep. Jean Schmidt, R-Ohio, says Congress should earn back the public’s trust before considering a new definition but concedes the earmark ban will bring about “unintended consequences.”

It’s a tight spot they find themselves in. Tea Partiers like Bachmann sure don’t want the government controlling infrastructure spending, or transportation dollars.

It’s not big government they’re against. It’s not spending they’re against. They love both. They have proven it again and again that the only earmark spending they’re against is Democratic-member-directed-spending – they love their own and the more the better – and yet people keep voting for them…again. Makes you wonder if Republican voters are easily fooled or if they’re part of the scam, the eternal bait and switch of American conservatism, about as real as John McCain’s maverick-ism.

Yeah, that’s change you can believe in. Though to give John credit, he did turn himself to a raving Tea Partier. That’s change, isn’t it? With John McCain you can say, as many states do about their weather, that if you don’t like it, just wait awhile. But you can’t say that about Republican spending, unfortunately. There the more things change, the more they stay the same.

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