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KITTLE: It’s the end of the world as we know it — and Congress still spends

By   /   December 18, 2012  /   No Comments

By M.D. Kittle | Wisconsin Reporter

Maybe the Mayans had it right.

Congress sure is spending like there’s no tomorrow.

With the world slated to end Friday, and the U.S. scheduled to fall off the “fiscal cliff” 11 days later, it looks like your federal lawmakers want to spend like it’s 1999.

STEEP CLIMB: With the world slated to end Friday, and the U.S. scheduled to fall off the “fiscal cliff” 11 days later, it looks like your federal lawmakers want to spend like it’s 1999.

The Congress that needed a self-made fiscal crisis to force itself to clean up the nation’s debt mess can’t seem to learn its lesson – even as the nation’s economy teeters on the eve of destruction (a shout-out to you Barry McGuire fans).

On Monday, Congress began debating a $60.4 billion aid bill aimed at rebuilding Superstorm Sandy-ravaged communities but loaded with plenty of pork.

Make no mistake. A big swath of the East Coast was chewed up by this devastating storm, and a lot of people are hurting – on the East Coast.

The last time I checked my U.S. map, Alaska and Mississippi were a long damn way from the East Coast. But the Senate bill would tack on $150 million for fishery disasters in these states. At least the line item for fishery aid has “disaster” in it. Another request calls for $50 million for the National Park Service’s historic preservation fund. Nearly $9 million would be pegged to replace vehicles and other equipment used by the Departments of Homeland Security and Justice.

I don’t know. Maybe the National Park Service is starved for historic preservation funding. Maybe Alaska’s fisheries are in dire shape. But they have nothing to do with the damage wrought by Hurricane Sandy.

The conservative Club for Growth, as you might expect, hates this bill. Same old Congress, the group says, throwing “immaterial” money at a problem.

“When a natural disaster occurs, there is a textbook response by Congress — they cobble together an overpriced bill that isn’t paid for, there’s no accountability or oversight, and it’s filled with pork. This proposal is no different,” Club for Growth said in a statement to senators.

As Reuters reported this week, even some New Jersey politicians think the bill has problems.

“A full 5 percent of the appropriation request is earmarked for the replacement of federal assets, rather than rebuilding and aid efforts in the tri-state area,” New Jersey state Sen. Joe Pennacchio, a Republican, said in a statement, referring to New Jersey, New York and Connecticut.

Republicans questioned the need to push through the full $60.4 billion at once. The Congressional Budget Office estimates that only $9 billion in aid will be disbursed in 2013, Reuters reported.

“Let’s do this in a real way. Look at how much we’re going to spend each year, and do it on an annual basis,” U.S. Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tennessee, told Reuters last week.

Democrats countered with “displays of large photographs of flooded subway stops and houses turned into splinters,” in their defense of the bill Monday, “saying that Congress has always provided disaster recovery aid and the need after Sandy was massive.”

Taxpayers everywhere should be aghast at the arrogance, the audacity of politicians who just don’t get it. Congress and President Obama can’t get their acts together on a deal that would stave off the so-called fiscal cliff. So, on Jan. 1, a perfect storm  — a kind of fiscal Sandy – is scheduled to pound taxpayers with automatic tax hikes and deep cuts to federal programs. That double whammy, economic experts contend, is a recipe for recession.

Put it all together and you have the infuriating reality of a Congress that won’t move on saving taxpayers yet is more than willing to unnecessarily charge taxpayers.

Maybe the Mayans had it right. I get the feeling that if the world does come to an end Friday, cockroaches will creep through the rubble and the U.S. Congress will find a way to spend the nation’s last tax dollar.

Contact Kittle at [email protected]

— Edited by John Trump at [email protected]


M.D. Kittle is bureau chief of Wisconsin Watchdog and First Amendment Reporter for Watchdog.org. Kittle is a 25-year veteran of print, broadcast and online media. He is the recipient of several awards for journalism excellence from The Associated Press, Inland Press, the Wisconsin Broadcasters Association, and others. He is also a member of Investigative Reporters & Editors. Kittle's extensive series on Wisconsin's unconstitutional John Doe investigations was the basis of a 2014 documentary on Glenn Beck's TheBlaze. His work has been featured in Town Hall, Fox News, NewsMax, and other national publications, and his reporting has been cited by news outlets nationwide. Kittle is a fill-in talk show host on the Jay Weber Show and the Vicki McKenna Show in Milwaukee and Madison.