2009 Supplemental Appropriations Bribery

I've written before about the problem of legislative collusion - the horse-trading process by which legislators bribe each other at our expense, creating de facto campaign donations for incumbents and sacrificing quality, oversight and accountability for political expedience.  Few things would do more for rational, good governance than unbundling legislation.

Today, we have a perfect illustration of the problem.  Congress is considering the 2009 Supplemental Appropriations Act.  This is supposed to be a bill that provides funding "for Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Pandemic Flu" (PDF).  However, politicians like to use consensus bills as a trojan horse to slip in more controversial items.  So, this bill now contains billions for the IMF (globalizing the bailouts!), multi-billion dollar earmarks from Rep. Murtha (which the military says are "not needed") and other unrelated, indulgent spending.

Few of those things would get a majority vote by themselves.  But throw them all into the pot, and....

Well, actually, it's still uncertain whether it will pass.  Blue Dog Democrats realize that voting for this will be a big problem for them, come time for reelection. (Good luck running against the "He spent your money to bail out European banks" ads)

So, according to sources on the Hill, the White House has sent Rahm Emanuel to "stuff everyone with so much pork that they have to vote for the supplemental."  And the Texas delegation is "refusing to vote for the supplemental unless Obama forces Rick Perry to take the stimulus money". 

A few phone calls never hurt.  Via Red State, here is a list of Congressmen who should learn how their districts feel about this bill.

Name District Phone 1 Phone 2 Phone 3
Bobby Bright AL-02 334-794-9680 334-277-9113 334-445-4600
Parker Griffith AL-05 256-551-0190 256-355-9400 256-381-3450
 
Ann Kirkpatrick AZ-01 928-445-3434
Harry Mitchell AZ-05 480-946-2411
Gabby Giffords AZ-08 520-881-3588 520-459-3115
 
Suzanne Kosmos FL-24 386-428-3900
 
Jim Marshall GA-08 478-464-0255 478-296-2023 229-556-7418
John Barrow GA-12 706-722-4494 478-553-1923 912-354-7282
 
Walt Minnick ID-01 208-888-3188 208-743-1388 208-667-0127
 
Bill Foster IL-14 630-406-1114 815-288-0680 309-944-3558
 
Baron Hill IN-09 812-288-3873 812-336-3355
 
Frank Kratovil MD-01 443-262 -9136 410-334-3072 410-420-8822
 
Travis Childers MS-01 662-728-6784
 
Glenn Nye VA-02 757-326-6201 757-789-5092 202-225-4215
Tom Perriello VA-05 434-293-9631 434-791-2596 434-392-1997

 

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unbelievable.

you're now on record as wanting a nuclear powered taliban. "globalizing the bailouts" indeed.

What'samatter? did you forget that we have nuclear powered nations being bailed out by the IMF?

No wonder the Republicans hate softpower so! it costs money! (as if the hard power of the military doesn't...)

If you don't know history . . .

It's nice that conservatives are coming out against military earmarks and against "supplemental" appropriations.  It would be even nicer if you would acknowledge that both earmarks and supplementals grew enormously in the recent period of Republican control and have been declining since -- though clearly not as much as one would like. 

It does no good to pretend that it's a Democratic weakness.  Anyone who follows these things would think a Republican is unserious if they only complain about Democratic earmarks.

Good lord

While I hope you enjoy wailing away on the strawmen, I would note that my central point here was that legislation needs to be unbundled so that each element can be considered and voted on separately.   And I have strenuously objected to the Republican BS on these topics.

This "vote our way or everybody dies" rhetoric is awfully reminiscent of the past 8 years, though.  So you've clearly learned something.  Shame it was "how to be what you hated."

a few logistical considerations...

How long does it take to vote on each thing? In the senate, i'm told it takes a lot of time...

I'm definitely down with the "please don't attach utterly unrelated things for NO REASON"... not sure about the IMF (is that an emergency?), but the whole "guns in national parks" thing seemed really gratuitous.

Instead of completely unbundling everything, maybe we could sort things out -- earmarks voted here, general military funding there?

 

(aww... but you make strawmen so easy!)

re: Logistical considerations

I'm not sure that "we don't have time to pay attention to everything we vote on" is a good argument against considering everything separately.  But I certainly encourage any politician to go ahead and let the public know that they aren't paying attention to what they're voting for.

However, I think it's a relatively simple matter to check yes/no on a long list of line items.  That's something that could be done by the legislative staff before the actual time of the vote.

are you familiar with the Coburn Omnibus?

it occurred as a result of one senator dragging his feet about anything he disagreed with.

I'm speaking as a purely procedural matter -- not that people don't read everything line by line, but that by the rules of the Senate, there is a certain amount of time allotted for debate, for each and every bill.  I believe this can be waived... HOWEVER, the minority has precious little incentive to allow the time to be waived, particularly if talking about "John's Cows" comes at the expense of say, repealing the Hyde ammendment. Because legislation can be stalled, and the more bills that you have, the more likely someone can effectively stall urgently needed legislation.

The line items sound good -- that won't interfere with the number of votes on the Senate floor, which was my concern above. You'd need to FOIA them to see what people wrote, I'd wager (does FOIA work on legislators? i forget!)

The Democratic leadership

The Democratic leadership will have trouble opposing such obvious good government proposals. Create a Republican caucus earmark screening program that subjects every Republican earmark to strict scrutiny. This will be a new experience for Republicans, but it has the potential to make Democrats look bad if they don't do somethign comparable." Acknowledge the past (without dwelling on it). Offer actual solutions, not just hand wringing. ( Financial Logos and Electrics Logos )

If you wrote plainly

If you said what you meant the first time there wouldn't be such misunderstandings.  If you write as though these are new problems you prove either that you have been sleeping for the past decade or that you belong to the Karl Rove "say whatever" school of politics.  (I don't like this tone, but I don't like yours either.  Isn't there a better way?)

I'll offer a little rewrite: "Democrats claim they want to fix some legislative excesses that have been building up over the past decade.  Here's how Republicans can get a piece of that good action.  Offer rules changes that make massive bundling harder.  The Democratic leadership will have trouble opposing such obvious good government proposals.  Create a Republican caucus earmark screening program that subjects every Republican earmark to strict scrutiny.  This will be a new experience for Republicans, but it has the potential to make Democrats look bad if they don't do somethign comparable."  Acknowledge the past (without dwelling on it).  Offer actual solutions, not just hand wringing.

I agree in principle that a little less bundling would be good.  But there has to be a limit.  And there still is deal making.  Otherwise the farm bill wouldn't pass every year.

What will it take for Republicans to be taken seriously?  Acting serious.

I'm speaking as a purely

I'm speaking as a purely procedural matter -- not that people don't read everything line by line, but that by the rules of the Senate, there is a certain amount of time allotted for debate, for each and every bill. I believe this can be waived... HOWEVER, the minority has precious little incentive to allow the time to be waived, particularly if talking about "John's Cows" comes at the expense of say, repealing the Hyde ammendment. Because legislation can be stalled, and the more bills that you have, the more likely someone can effectively stall urgently needed legislation. ( Recent Logo and Internet Logo Design and IT Logo )

Everything is backwards !

Our elected officials should take the time to go over everything that comes before them becuse its there job. What else do we need them for?? I have chronic anxiety when they start talking about bills that are thousands of pages long and that are earmarked to death. People should start doing there jobs all around and we will have a better country.

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Really it’s mostly rightwing Republicans

Really it’s mostly rightwing Republicans voting against giving the IMF money to give Obama a hard time and because they are isolationists. And we all know they hate the wealthy elite.  ( Dubai Property and Apartments in Dubai )

 

The problem of Horse Trading

The problem of horse trading diminish any hope for proper legislation

Charlotte Locksmith

Thats what Democrats do....

 

Charlotte Locksmith