Archive for Pork

It’s Unprecedented!™

The structure of the Solyndra loan was a brand new way to rip-off taxpayers

Two senior Treasury officials said Friday that they had never seen a loan restructuring similar to an Energy Department loan to a failed solar panel maker.
In this Sept. 23, 2011 file photo, CEO Brian Harrison of the bankrupt solar energy company Solyndra invokes his Fifth Amendment right to avoid self-incrimination as he appears before the the House Energy Commitee’s Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee which is examining Solyndra’s government loan, on Capitol Hill in Washington.

The half-billion dollar loan to Solyndra Inc. was restructured earlier this year so that private investors moved ahead of taxpayers for repayment on part of the loan in case of a default.

Treasury officials Gary Grippo and Gary Burner told a House committee they had never seen that occur in a federal loan. Grippo is a deputy assistant treasury secretary and Burner is chief financial officer at the Federal Financing Bank, which made a $528 million loan to Solyndra in 2009.

The two Treasury officials stopped short of declaring the loan restructuring illegal, as some Republicans allege.

“I can’t give you a legal interpretation on that, sir,” Burner told Rep. Cliff Stearns, R-Fla.

Grippo, who oversees the financing bank, said it was not Treasury’s job to make legal interpretations. Instead, he said Treasury officials correctly raised questions about the deal in a series of emails and memos.

“Our role is to be as helpful as we can,” Grippo told the House Energy and Commerce Committee Friday.

Hours later, the panel’s Republican majority released an email showing that a White House budget official also questioned the loan restructuring.

I was torn about the title of this post. Should I have called it The Most Transparent Administration Evah Makes A Very Large Loan, And Taxpayers Lose? Or is that too long? What do you think?

- Aggie


Sing Along With Mitch

Just a quick note to observe that maybe it’s a good thing the Republicans didn’t win the Senate. Mitch McConnell would be Majority Leader:

Now, he may be a fine man and an able leader. But a party leader who looks like a toad is not an electoral turn-on. Conservatives have grown very healthy running against Harry Reid—more of a hound dog than a toad:

Anyhow, he seems malleable enough where he is:

Republicans in and out of Washington have argued strenuously for two years that spending and debt are at crisis levels. And we have demonstrated our seriousness about cutting spending and reining in government. Every Republican on the Senate Appropriations Committee, for instance, voted against every appropriations bill in committee this year because they simply cost too much. Most included funding for projects in our home states. We voted against them anyway.

Banning earmarks is another small but important symbolic step we can take to show that we’re serious, another step on the way to serious and sustained cuts in spending and to the debt.

You just keep doin’ what the Tea Party tells ya, Mitch, and everyone will get along just fine.

PS: In case you don’t see it:

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Pull Pork

A lengthy and persuasive vivisection of earmark policy by Sen. Tom Coburn at NRO.

I’d like to highlight one thing:

It’s true that earmarks themselves represent a tiny portion of the budget, but a small rudder can help steer a big ship, which is why I’ve long described earmarks as the gateway drug to spending addiction in Washington. No one can deny that earmarks like the Cornhusker Kickback have been used to push through extremely costly and onerous bills. Plus, senators know that as the number of earmarks has exploded so has overall spending. In the past decade, the size of government has doubled while Congress approved more than 90,000 earmarks.

Earmarks were rare until recently. In 1987, President Reagan vetoed a spending bill because it contained 121 earmarks. Eliminating earmarks will not balance the budget overnight, but it is an important step toward getting spending under control.

Earmarks are legal (barely) bribes to buy the votes of lawmakers who otherwise might vote their conscience. Whatever the cost of the Cornhusker Kickback, it was miniscule compared to the cost in money and individual freedom of socialized medicine. Sen. Ben Nelson was a no on Obama/Reid/PelosiCare until they tucked a knot of Benjamins into his waistband.

Coburn observes that in FY 2010, Congress spent $16.1 billion on pork. However one defines pork, and however small that number may seem after trillion-dollar stimulus packages, that is certainly enough money to corrode confidence in the process. It’s true we elect our representatives to make myriad decisions we don’t have time and aren’t in place to make for ourselves. But that trust is betrayed ten million times for every dollar appropriated for the Ted Kennedy Library.

The only book that library should carry is a CPR manual.

Is that one of those “waitress sandwiches” I’ve heard tell so much about?

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The Dime Will Never Die

And the pork will never be mislaid:

More than one out of every five dollars of the $125 million Massachusetts is receiving from a federal spending bill is going to help preserve the legacy of the Kennedys.

The bill includes $5.8 million for a new Edward M. Kennedy Institute for the Senate to be located near the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library & Museum. The JFK Museum will get $22 million for upgrades.

In a way, you could lay all the waste and corruption of the Big Dig at the feet of the Kennedys, too. The name to the strip of land reclaimed from beneath the former elevated highway is the Rose Kennedy Greenway. I think the Teresina Capone Greenway would have been more fitting, and has a nice ring to it.

Funny how President Obama failed to mention these tasty little bacon strips among the shameful earmarks (which he inherited!) he was forced to sign at gunpoint.

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Yes We Ca-ching! Part III

All that bitching and moaning you’ve been reading here about pork and earmarks ad nauseam?

Forget I spoke:

A pond in Milford, a nonprofit organization in Newton, a business in Northborough, and Brandeis University all stand to gain federal funding in a multibillion-dollar spending bill making its way through Congress.

The region’s Capitol Hill delegation set aside more than $8 million for local projects as part of the supplementary budget proposal, needed to keep the federal government running through the end of its fiscal year, Sept. 30.

The earmarks, as proposals for specific projects are known, for local projects are among nearly 9,000 such appropriations in the $410 billion spending package.

Congressman Barney Frank, a Newton Democrat who represents the Fourth District, said his support was based on individual assessments of each project.

“This notion that all earmarks are bad things is really stupid,” said Frank. “I’ve got parts of my district that need some things more than others do. Each one of these is different.”

Exactly, Congressman: couldn’t have put it better myself. That pond in Milford “needs some things”; to ignore it would be “stupid”. Now, where the hell is Milford?

Thank God I live in Massachusetts where I have selfless civil servants like Barney Frank, Ted Kennedy, and John Kerry looking out for me. I can call them fascists, communists, worthless teat-sucking, freeloading, no good sons of bitches—and frequently do!—and still enjoy the pork chops, ham hocks, fatback, and bacon that they bring home in such abundance.

Speaking of which:

More than 100,000 Massachusetts homeowners who cannot refinance at current low rates because of falling property values may now be able to do so as part of the Obama administration’s housing plan.

I recall this exchange between John Travolta and Samuel L. Jackson in Pulp Fiction:

Vincent Vega: Want some bacon?

Jules Whitfield: No man, I don’t eat pork.

VV: Are you Jewish?

JW: Nah, I ain’t Jewish, I just don’t dig on swine, that’s all.

VV: Why not?

JW: Pigs are filthy animals. I don’t eat filthy animals.

VV: Bacon tastes gooood. Pork chops taste gooood.

JW: Hey, sewer rat may taste like pumpkin pie, but I’d never know ’cause I wouldn’t eat the filthy motherfu**er. Pigs sleep and root in s**t. That’s a filthy animal. I ain’t eat nothin’ that ain’t got enough sense enough to disregard its own feces.

VV: How ’bout a dog? Dog eats his own feces.

JW: I don’t eat dog either.

VV: Yeah, but do you consider a dog to be a filthy animal?

JW: I wouldn’t go so far as to call a dog filthy, but they definitely dirty. But, dog’s got personality; personality goes a long way.

VV: Ahh, so by that rationale, if a pig had a better personality, he would cease to be a filthy animal. Is that true?

JW: Well, we’d have to be talking one charming mother-fu**ing pig. I mean he’d have to be ten times more charmin’ than that Arnold on Green Acres, you know what I’m sayin’?

I may not dig on fiscal swine, but economic bacon tastes gooood, monetary pork chops taste gooood.


Lies and the Lying Presidents Who Sign Them

Earmarks? That’s last year’s business.

The White House played down massive deficit spending and President Obama’s pledge not to sign legislation laden with billions in earmarks yesterday, amid Republican criticism that he was recanting on a campaign vow.

The administration’s top budget official, Peter Orszag, said Obama would sign the $410 billion spending bill despite a campaign pledge that he would reject tailored budget requests that let lawmakers send money to their home states. Orszag said Obama would move ahead and overlook the time-tested tradition that lets officials divert millions at a time to pet projects.

It was the Washington equivalent of officials pinching their nose and swallowing a bitter pill.

“This is last year’s business,” Orszag said, offering an acknowledgment that Obama would sign a bill that doesn’t conform with his campaign vows. “We want to just move on. Let’s get this bill . . . into law and move forward.”

Chief of staff Rahm Emanuel offered similar language: “That’s last year’s business.”

At least they’re on message: any broken promise or pledge is “last year’s business”.

We won’t let them forget it.

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Trough Time!

Can you believe the Boston Glob ran this?

Despite vows by President Obama to curtail earmarks, all 12 members of the Massachusetts congressional delegation are among dozens of lawmakers stuffing a massive spending bill full of what critics call pork-barrel projects.

The Bay State lawmakers have inserted provisions ranging from $30 million to improve commuter rail service to Fitchburg, to a $254,000 project for a local study of obesity, to $190,000 to renovate a Stockbridge theater, a Globe review found.

The projects are among more than 8,500 across the country totaling $7.7 billion – up 3 percent from last year – that were included in the $410 billion spending bill the House approved yesterday, according to the nonpartisan group Taxpayers for Common Sense. The House rejected a Republican bid to strip the earmarks out of the legislation, which is to fund government operations from early March through the end of September.

The earmarks were inserted despite President Obama’s statement in his speech Tuesday night to Congress that he was “proud” there wasn’t a single earmark in the separate $787 billion stimulus plan and the possibility that he might veto legislation loaded with pet projects.

“These are my earmarks. I’m very proud of them. They are all strongly supported by the people I represent,” said Representative Barney Frank.

Shame on you, Barney. A nice Jewish boy like you indulging in pork.

But he’s not alone in partaking:

James McGovern, a Worcester Democrat, said that earmarks are not pork, but are “nourishment.”

“We stand behind every penny,” [Senator John] Kerry [D-MA] spokeswoman Jodi Seth said yesterday.

Representative Michael E. Capuano, a Somerville Democrat [said:]

“I didn’t run for office on the presumption that I don’t know anything about my district. [...] If you don’t have some earmarks, all the decisions are left to the executives. There is no legislative input.”

Capuano inserted a number of earmarks, including [...] $254,000 to Tufts University to study obesity.

Well, in this economy, I don’t think we’ll have to worry about obesity anymore.

But this might be the best use of our money—screw that: it’s not our money anymore. We just earned it:

In a case of several senators working on behalf of another, Kerry and several of his colleagues inserted an earmark for $5.8 million for the Edward M. Kennedy Institute for the United States Senate, to be built next to the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library in Boston. The institute had also received $20 million in private funding as of last month. A spokesman said Kennedy did not ask for the funding but is “appreciative” of his colleagues’ efforts. Separately, Kerry also engineered an earmark of $22 million for an addition to the Kennedy library, according to his staff.

To borrow a phrase, Mary Jo Kopechne could not be reached for comment.

And Kennedy is so “appreciative”, he’s going to bequeath us national health care in gratitude.

PS: If you think I unfairly singled out Democrats, that’s all we have in the People’s Republic. We have knowingly and by wide margins turned ourselves into a literal one-party state. Don’t say the rest of youse weren’t warned.

PPS: Do you think President Obama is outraged to learn how his words have been ignored and spit back in his face? Me neither.

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Tea To Wash Down All That Pork?

Tax protests are igniting across the country. So-called tea parties are planned across the nation, from Washington, DC to San Diego, CA.

Seattle on Monday. Denver on Tuesday. Mesa AZ on Wednesday.

Overland Park, Kansas today. What a week, huh? We got the anti-stimulus, anti-entitlement protest ball rolling — and now the movement, spurred further by CNBC host Rick Santelli’s call for a “Chicago Tea Party,” is really taking off.

David Hogberg at Investor’s Business Daily has a nice piece out today spotlighting the growing taxpayer revolt the rest of the MSM won’t cover. He interviewed our registered commenters Liberty Belle Keli Carender, who spearheaded the Seattle anti-pork protest, and HuskerGirl Amanda Grosserode, who organized today’s anti-stimulus demonstration against Democrat Rep. Dennis Moore in Overland Park, MS.

I’m happy to report on several new protest events now on the docket.

My friend Michael Patrick Leahy of Top Conservatives on Twitter and his crew are spearheading “simultaneous local tea parties around the country, beginning in Chicago, and including Washington DC, Fayetteville NC, San Diego CA, Omaha Nebraska, and dozens of other locations” for next Friday.

And how does Boston, the site of America’s first—and still best—tax revolt, mark this new birth of freedom?

By raising the state gas tax 80%:

Governor Deval Patrick, who formally unveiled the proposal to raise the tax by 19 cents a gallon, seemed conflicted himself as he abandoned previous statements opposing the gas tax hike or calling it ill-timed as families struggle through a recession. Now, his proposal would not only raise the gas tax, but continue to increase it yearly with the rate of inflation.

If approved by the Legislature, the increase would push the state’s gas tax to 42.5 cents a gallon, just slightly more than New York’s 41.3 cents, now the highest in the country. With the 18.4 cent federal tax added in, Massachusetts drivers may soon pay 61.9 cents a gallon in taxes.

No, you gasp!

Yes, we answer, we can!

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When the Extended Hand Comes Upside Your Head

President Obama reaches out to the Republicans and urges the them to unclench their fists:

“But what I have also said is, don’t come to the table with the same tired arguments and worn ideas that helped to create this crisis.”

“If we do not move swiftly to sign the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act into law, an economy that is already in crisis will be faced with catastrophe,” Obama said.

He linked congressional Republicans to the policies of former President George W. Bush’s administration.

“We are not going to get relief by turning back to the very same policies that for the last eight years doubled the national debt and threw our economy into a tailspin,” he said.

Obama said he valued “constructive criticism.”

Sure he does.

He just values $4.2 billion for “neighborhood stabilization activities” and $90 million to educate “vulnerable populations” more.

And Barney Frank and Chris Dodd are blameless.

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Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Tail

I hate to keep parroting Rush Limbaugh (actually, I don’t), but he had the perfect description of the stimulus plan: money laundering.

The money they intend to spend already exists—in people’s pockets. The proposed spending will require taxes, robbing our wallets, our accounts, our businesses to pay for… well, ACORN, the National Endowment for the Arts, and re-sodding the Jefferson Memorial.

It wold have paid for condoms, too, if Nancy Pelosi had had her way.

We know what President Obama said:

He told reporters at his transition office that his package will set a “new higher standard of accountability, transparency and oversight. We are going to ban all earmarks, the process by which individual members insert projects without review.”

Paraphrasing our national creed, the Declaration of Independence, governments are instituted among men to guarantee the inalienable rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Where does it say anything about digital TV coupons?