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August 15, 2005

You, Sir, Are No Ronald Reagan

From WaPo's editorial:

Back in 1987, when Mr. Reagan applied his veto to what was generally known at the time as the highway and mass transit bill, he was offended by the 152 earmarks for pet projects favored by members of Congress. But on Wednesday Mr. Bush signed a transportation bill containing no fewer than 6,371 earmarks. Each one of these, as Mr. Reagan understood but Mr. Bush apparently doesn't, amounts to a conscious decision to waste taxpayers' dollars. One point of an earmark is to direct money to a project that would not receive money as a result of rational judgments based on cost-benefit analyses.

Mr. Bush, who had threatened to veto wasteful spending bills, chose instead to cave in. He did so despite the fact that in addition to a record number of earmarks the transportation bill came with a price tag that he had once called unacceptable. The bill has a declared cost of $286 billion over five years plus a concealed cost of a further $9 billion; Mr. Bush had earlier drawn a line in the sand at $256 billion, then drawn another line at $284 billion. Asked to explain the president's capitulation, a White House spokesman pleaded that at least this law would be less costly than the 2003 Medicare reform. This is a classic case of defining deviancy down.

August 15, 2005 in Bush the Man | Permalink

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Comments

Further down in the Op-Ed:

How can this president -- an allegedly conservative president -- believe that the federal government should spend money on the Red River National Wildlife Refuge Visitor Center in Louisiana? Or on the Henry Ford Museum in Michigan?

Just to be fair, this earmark almost certainly came from a Democrat. Both of Michigan's Senators are Dems, and the Museum is likely in John Dingell's district. The Henry Ford is a nice museum and is doing fine with whatever their financial sources are, they don't need money from a strapped federal government.

That said, Bush is a fucking pussy. He never actually has to walk his talk. Some "leader."

Posted by: Mr Furious | Aug 15, 2005 12:15:14 PM

Oh, Democrats are fully at fault here. But Democratic (or Republican) Senators don't pretend they won't pork out, it's presidents who are supposed to discipline, particularly conservative ones who promise to veto bills when they hit a magic number. Watching the magic number get nailed, then exceeded, and still signing shows BUsh to be rather spineless.

Posted by: Ezra Klein | Aug 15, 2005 12:27:43 PM

Spending is one of the things that really piss me off about Bush. The question that comes to mind is would spending be less under a Democratic regime?

Have the Democrats promised that they would spend less?

Posted by: Fred Jones | Aug 15, 2005 1:29:30 PM

Fred asks "Have the Democrats promised that they would spend less?"

The Democrats have shown they would spend less: "Congressional conference committees, charged with reconciling differences between House- and Senate-passed versions of the same legislation, have become dramatically more powerful in shaping bills. The panels, made up of a small group of lawmakers appointed by leaders in both parties, added a record 3,407 "pork barrel" projects to appropriations bills for this year's federal budget, items that were never debated or voted on beforehand by the House and Senate and whose congressional patrons are kept secret. This compares to just 47 projects added in conference committee in 1994, the last year of Democratic control."
Boston Globe, October 3, 2004
And that was from last year's budget.
Back-room dealing a Capitol trend

Posted by: SteveH | Aug 15, 2005 1:37:38 PM

In the best of times, America has two liberal parties, with the Republicans defending the Adam Smith entreprenurial side of liberalism and the Democrats defending the kind of social reforms based on social utility that Jeremy Bentham wrote in favor of.

In the worst of times, America has no liberal parties, as both of the major parties get taken over by their non-liberal factions.

Clearly, we live in an era when the Republican party has been taken over by its non-liberal factions, the Christian fundamentalists being the most noteworthy. Really, I can't think of another time when the Republicans demonstrated so much contempt for their own liberal factions. This is the kind of total collapse that caused Roosevelt to grow angry with Taft, and split the party. One has to assume another such split is coming. Or else the Democrats will take over the country and run it for a long generation.

Posted by: Lawrence Krubner | Aug 15, 2005 10:42:55 PM

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