The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act
Congress Needs A Committee To Regulate Funding State, Non-Profit, And Pork-Barrel Projects:
Our representatives are having a difficult time representing us because of their obligation to satisfy special interests. We elect representatives to support or reject bills based on their merit, not as an opportunity to lend their support, using the inclusion of pork-barrel projects as the hook, to garner more votes helping pass undesirable or controversial bills. The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act is such a bill. It is controversial and loaded with billions of dollars of projects not related to health care.
Earmarks, pork, and pork-barrel projects are all the same. They are pet projects inserted into bills by representatives who want to either bring home lucrative projects to their district or state; or throw a bone to a special interest group. Adding pork-barrel projects and other add-ons to get support in passing a bill has become standard protocol for passing bills into law.
This is blatantly obvious in the recent $900 billion spending bill containing over $8 billion in pork-barrel projects; mostly providing funds for projects that benefit special interest groups in return for that group’s support or campaign donations.
The bill would never have passed without the inclusion of pork; there was not enough support to pass the bill. Used as an incentive tool to procure a vote, they are accepted, and inserted into every major bill. Most of us have no idea this is happening because it is usually difficult to see amongst all the political and legal jargon and representatives rarely mentioned these projects.
In 1994, pork began being used as a currency of re-election; since then they have transgressed to include a currency of corruption. The influence of big corporate and private monies supporting candidates undoubtedly, has an influence on the “you scratch my back, I will scratch your back” mentality that has led to payback and corruption.
Our representatives have been running amuck for years, proposing ridiculous pork-barrel projects that have become a drain on the Treasury. In 2010, there were over 9,000 earmarks costing $16.5 billion. Recent projects include:
$4.8 million for wood utilization. $2.6 million in potato research. $10.0 million for the National Institute for Hometown Security. $3.5 million for the National Institute for Aviation Research. $7.0 million for the Robert C. Byrd Institute of Advanced Flexible Manufacturing Systems.
Favorite Projects: $19.0 million to examine gas emissions from cow flatulence. $1.2 million to study the breeding habits of the woodchuck. $2.0 million to construct an ancient Hawaiian canoe. $57 thousand spent by the Executive Branch for gold-embossed playing cards for Air Force Two.
Not every project is a waste of money; some are actually beneficial. However, projects that are ridiculous or the intent is obvious should never be funded. Those in the Congress who submit and those who approve them need not be embarrassed; they need to lose their seat. Above is only a sample of the ridiculous projects the members of Congress approved.
Representatives, who tend to lean toward satisfying special interests more than the people they represent, raise a “red flag” calling for legislation to curtail projects that benefit no one, except those who are the beneficiaries.
Maybe the answer lays in the formation of a Special Congressional Committee to submit official requests to fund state projects, non-profit organizations, and pork-barrel project recommendations by members of the Congress and the Executive Branch.
The Committee would compile a list of all requests for consideration, with the highest priority assigned to state projects, next non-profit organizations, and last pork-barrel. A specific timeframe established for receiving requests, allows the Committee enough time for review and hearings, prioritizing projects based on fiscal budget, and presentation of recommendations for consideration to the leadership prior to floor discussion and vote.
A Committee solves 90% of the bias, eliminates the influence controlling the currency of re-election, and curbs the currency of corruption. A committee is highly visible and its activities are public record. Scrutinizing and eliminating pork-barrel projects that benefit few, takes pressure off representatives from lobbyist and special interests. If representatives cannot make deals and submit pork projects padding bills, special interest influence would decrease, and maybe, Congressional approval will set a new record for approval in this century,
The biggest benefit derived by a Committee; bills brought from committee to the floor would not be laden with pork, nor would there be a need to barter votes using pork-barrel projects as an incentive. The emphasis shifts to drafting beneficial bills that are competitive to become law, based on the merit of the bill to benefit the whole. The passage of bills into law would be greatly accelerated with congressional emphasis focused on the bill. The biggest benefit of all; we would no longer have to pass the bill to find the pork-barrel projects hidden between the lines.
Article Source: Mac McGovern