Monday, April 21, 2008

Political Readings

We get Rolling Stone magazine. Their political reporter, Matt Taibbi, often gets me irritated, since he has a rather intolerant view of his subjects. However, in this issue of Rolling Stone, he has an article on Hillary Clinton and all her pork projects. Apparently she's procured more than $2.2B in earmarks while in office. Unbelievable ... well, except it really is believable. Some examples:

- Hillary was endorsed by Calvin Butts of the Abyssinian Baptist Church in Harlem on the day before MLK Day. Turns out that Hillary put through three earmarks totalling $1.5M to the development corporation run by ... Calvin Butts.
- Hillary secured a deal for Lockheed Martin in Oswego, NY, to build a new Presidential helicopter. One helicopter would cost $400M. That's more than Air Force One cost! What did it cost Lockheed Martin? $10,000 in contributions to Hillary's Senate campaign and lots of free rides on its planes.

Where do these funds come from? Well, not out of thin air. The money comes from the overall budget for the agency affected. The cost for the helicopter, for example, comes out of the military's general operating budget for the year. Congress gives the military X amount of dollars, but pork projects take Y amount of funding, leaving some smaller amount for other important acquisitions (like ammunition, armored humvees, body armor, minor things like that).

Hillary's not alone in bringing home the bacon to political supporters and her state. Republicans had a bad rep for lining up at the pork trough, which was one reason that the Democrats were able to take over the House and Senate in the last elections. However, last year Congress approved more than $17B .. as in BILLIONS ... in earmarks, which is a 30% increase over the Republican-led congress that they portrayed as corrupt feeders at the public trough.

And Hillary's competitors for the Prez job aren't immune to criticism. Barack Obama put in one earmark. McCain had one in '03. Hillary? She had 26 just on the '08 defense bill alone.

Hillary for President? Pleeeze.

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