They think we’re a bunch of dummies! How else can you explain some of the rhetoric coming out of the White House and Congress?
Case in point was an answer Scott McClellan, the president’s mouthpiece, gave WorldNetDaily’s Les Kinsolving last week. Kinsolving asked if Bush is concerned that he is alienating his conservative base by increasing the federal budget deficit and not vetoing a single piece of legislation.
With a straight face (that part is very important) Mr. McClellan said:
This president has significantly reduced the growth in non-security discretionary spending. If you look at where we were when we came into office, the budget the year before we came into office had increased that funding some 15 percent.
On Oct. 7, Brian Riedl, a budget expert at the conservative Heritage Foundation, produced a paper on overall budget and spending trends. It shows that spending has grown twice as fast under President Bush as it did under President Clinton. Once the GOP had one of its own in the White House, discretionary spending went from $649 billion to $969 billion. You do the math. That’s a 36 percent increase, after adjusting for inflation. If you break out the increase in defense, homeland security and Hurricane Katrina, and adjust for inflation, the increase still comes in at a whopping 22 percent.
Where does McClellan get off implying that Bush’s increase was somehow less than Clinton’s?
When I posed this question to Riedl, he said that McClellan must be looking at budget authority, not budget outlays.
Every year lawmakers pass a budget which contains the figures they are supposed to use when passing the various appropriations bills that run our government. This budget is routinely ignored. The whole thing is patently dishonest, as was McClellan’s answer.
Now McClellan isn’t pulling these numbers out of a hat. He is, of course, following a script, approved by the president.
But this misleading rhetoric isn’t limited to the White House. The National Taxpayers Union examined the Congressional Record to see how many times, in the last Congress, lawmakers talked about getting a handle on the budget. Our esteemed representatives talked about being fiscally responsible a total of 2,740 times, but this talk was not cheap!
In the end, not one of them voted for a net decrease in discretionary spending – no, not even one!
Rep. Ron Paul, R-Texas, the libertarian elected to the House as a Republican, had the best overall record. Mr. Paul voted for a net increase in discretionary outlays of only $14.5 billion. In 1996, one year after the Republican takeover, a full 512 out of the 535 members of Congress had a record that reduced – not increased – overall discretionary outlays. Yes, before Republicans lost their way, even the traditional big-spending Democrats were running scared and voting to cut the budget.
Remember the days when Republicans used to make fun of Sen. Robert Byrd, D-W.Va., the king of pork who ran the Senate Appropriations Committee with an iron fist? The GOP promised things would change if we put them in charge. They did! In the 2005 budget, Ted Stevens, the Republican who now chairs that committee, set aside $646 million in pork for his state of Alaska. Byrd’s $399 million for West Virginia paled by comparison.
The latest outrage occurred last week when Dr. Tom Coburn, R-Okla., the freshman senator who travels home every weekend to take care of patients and stay connected to the real world, asked the Senate to cut a half billion dollars set aside for two Alaskan bridges that have been tucked into the highway bill. The Senate says it is looking for offsets for Katrina spending. Don’t believe it!
The first bridge would connect Ketchikan, a fishing village of 8,900 to an island with 50 residents and a small airport, even though a ferry runs every 15 minutes. According to USA Today, this boondoggle will be nearly as long as the Golden Gate and higher than the Brooklyn Bridge. The second bridge would connect Anchorage to a network of swamps and an “ice” burg with one resident. They are essentially “bridges to nowhere.” A logical place to cut, but no! Coburn was joined by only 14 other senators. Incidentally, John McCain, R-Ariz., who at least once a year makes pork a big issue, wasn’t among them.
(Senators voting with Coburn: Bayh, D-Ind., Conrad, D-N.D., Feingold, D-Wisc., Landrieu, D-La., Allard, R-Colo., Allen, R-Va., Burr, R-N.C., DeMint, R-S.C., DeWine, R-Ohio, Graham, R-S.C., Kyl, R-Ariz., Sessions, R-Ala., Sununu, R-N.H., and Vitter, R-La.).
The pork-laden highway bill now is in conference. Bush made a little noise about a veto, but don’t hold your breath.
There has been an outcry, but not nearly enough. Let your voices be heard. Remember, they think we’re just a bunch of dummies.