Thursday, I wrote about the underhanded methods used to extend the vote in CAFTA until leadership like the outcome. Today, let’s look at what CAFTA cost. According to the Opinion Journal, it cost billions right off the bat:
President Bush had to twist a lot of arms to squeak his Central American Free Trade Agreement through Congress this week, but Republicans are about to make sure he pays for a whole lot more than their chiropractor bills. Having sacrificed to support free trade, the Members prepared for the August recess by throwing themselves a giant spending party.
Speaker Dennis Hastert had barely waited for dawn to break after the midnight Cafta vote before he directed the House to pass a $286.4 billion highway bill. He expects Mr. Bush to sign this because it is “only” $2.4 billion more than the President’s 2005 veto limit, which is “only” $28 billion more than his 2004 veto limit of $256 billion, which was “only” a 17% increase over the previous six-year highway spending level. “Only” in Washington could spending so much money be considered an act of fiscal discipline.
The bill is all about “jobs, jobs, jobs,” declared Mr. Hastert, and he’s right if he’s referring to the Members’ re-election prospects. The House version alone contained 3,700 special earmarks, doled out liberally across state and party lines.
Citizens Against Government Waste (CAGW) files this dispatch:
The Council for Citizens Against Government Waste (CCAGW) today opposed the pork projects and special interest tax breaks found in the conference report on the Transportation Equity Act A Legacy for Users (TEA-LU). The conference version of the bill passed the House of Representatives today by a vote of 412-8. The Senate is scheduled to take up the bill before recess.
“This legislation is yet another example of lawmakers catering to special interests,” CAGW President Tom Schatz said. “The pork projects were not enough; Congress also had to include unrelated tax breaks in this bloated highway bill.”
The bill includes $200 million for the infamous “Bridge to Nowhere,” now renamed “Don Young’s Way,” connecting Gravina Island (population: 50) with the Alaskan mainland.
Also coming to light are questionable tax breaks in the bill that have little to do with transportation, including:
– Repeal of special occupational taxes on producers and marketers of alcoholic beverages
– Income tax credit for distilled spirits wholesalers
– Cap on excise tax on certain fishing equipment
– Tax breaks for luxury transportation: Exemption from taxes on transportation provided by seaplanes and certain sightseeing flights exempt from taxes on air transportation
Read the entire CAGW write-up.
Long story short, we massaged/bent/broke the rules to get the vote we wanted on an unrelated bill, and then spent billions of taxpayer money to grease the wheels.
Somehow, the argument that I should vote Republican because ‘the Democrats are worse’ is becoming less palatable by the minute.
*** Update ***
The good folks at Q and O are also observant of the decline of the ‘fiscally responsible’ Republican party.