By Peter Roff, Thomas Jefferson Street blog
It's little wonder that congressional approval ratings are in the basement.
Congress went hog wild in a frenzy of increased spending, supposedly to stimulate the economy, but the U.S. unemployment rate has continued to rise. And the cost of the pork continues to add up, the latest example being the $18 million—half of which is being paid out up front with the remainder coming in payments over several years—to redesign the website that is supposed to help the American people see where all the stimulus money is going.
Not design the website—redesign it, since whoever was in charge of it apparently could not get it done right the first time.
It's an appropriate metaphor for what is happening in Washington. Major legislation is being pushed unread to President Obama's desk by the Democrats who control the House and Senate. Legislation that is signed, again one can believe unread, by the president and left for the bureaucracy to implement. No one, least of all the American people—whose money it is that is being spent—seems to know what is going on.
Of course there are rumors among Capitol Hill Republicans like the one about .64 cents of every stimulus dollar going to a county that voted for Obama in 2008 vs. .36 cents to every county that McCain won, so maybe the lack of transparency in the stimulus spending is no accident. It's certainly true that each item that appears to dribble out produces further embarrassment for the congressional leadership.
For example, as the Washington Times reported Thursday, the Obama administration announced that as much as $16.1 million in stimulus funds are "going to save the San Francisco Bay area habitat of, among other things, the endangered salt marsh harvest mouse." And though her office rejects the notion that this spending results from any special favors or pulling of strings, and says that the money was competitively awarded, it is undeniable that some of this money goes into House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's congressional district, which abuts the Bay.
House Republican Leader John Boehner of Ohio was quick to denounce the project, saying, "The stimulus isn't creating jobs for American workers, but it is making sure American harvest mice have nice comfortable homes in the midst of the recession."
Pelosi's mouse, not to be confused with the one who lives in Southern California near Anaheim, is yet another symbol of pork barrel spending run amok, regardless of how the program to save its habitat was approved. No wonder the latest Rasmussen poll shows voters now trusting the Republicans more than the Democrats to handle key issues including, "for the second straight month," the economy. The Democrats have abused the privilege.