Friday, March 30, 2007

Secret Spending

Anyone would think that Congress was spending its own money, and not that of the American public. Despite the liberal idea of the corrupt pork barrel spending Republican politician in thrall to big business, it's the Democrats who seem to not want American citizens to see how their hard-earned money is being spent.

The federal agency that tracked pork-barrel spending during the 12 years of the Republican congressional majority has discontinued the practice since Democrats took power, riling lawmakers suspicious of the timing and concerned about the pace of fat being added to bills.

"To me, something doesn't smell right," said Sen. Jim DeMint, South Carolina Republican. "I just hope no one is pressuring" the Congressional Research Service (CRS).

While not blaming the Democratic leadership, Mr. DeMint added: "I guess if you're looking for a motive, you'd have to look in that direction."

Surely not?

Democrats promised reform and instituted "a moratorium" on all earmarks until the system was cleaned up. Now the appropriations committees are privately accepting pork-barrel requests again. But curiously, the scorekeeper on earmarks, the Library of Congress's Congressional Research Service (CRS)--a publicly funded, nonpartisan federal agency--has suddenly announced it will no longer respond to requests from members of Congress on the size, number or background of earmarks. "They claim it'll be transparent, but they're taking away the very data that lets us know what's really happening," says Oklahoma Sen. Tom Coburn. "I'm convinced the appropriations committees are flexing their muscles with CRS."

Those pesky Republicans, wanting pork barrel spending to be out in the open for all to see.

And here's a good question-

"It's not CRS's job to be the watchdog of Congress," Sen. DeMint says the director told him. But CRS is merely being asked to continue providing objective data. If it can't do that, why do taxpayers shell out $100 million a year to employ its 700 researchers?

Exactly- and furthermore, why do they prevent the public- which pays its wages- from seeing those reports?

Indeed, taxpayers can't even access its many fine reports, which are closely held. Despite bipartisan efforts by Sens. John McCain and Pat Leahy to make its research public, CRS implausibly argues that release of its reports will somehow compromise the confidentiality of its contacts with Congress. Mr. Mulhollan has just issued another new directive demanding "prior approval should now be required" before any CRS reports "are distributed to members of the public."

1 comment:

FrauBudgie said...

Jay, ya nailed it.

The Lib Democrats here in the US seem to think spending taxpayer funding is "not like spending real money."

It's this magical cloud in the sky, raining dollars for them to mishandle.