The Elephant party with an un-Elephant like memory


The  ‘era of big government is back’ screamed the headline with a quote from republican minority leader John Boehner, talking about the stimulus package President Obama is trying to implement. “My question to my Democratic friends is how are you going to pay for it?”, claims Boehner and my answer to him would be why don’t we try to recoup all the money wasted on the Iraqi misadventure, that was documented here

Overall, the Defense Contract Audit Agency has found $4.9 billion in overpricing and waste in Iraq contracts since 2003. US auditors have identified another $5.1 billion in expenses charged without documentation.

“Clearly there has been some significant level of corruption,” says Steven Kosiak, director of budget studies at the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments.

But the biggest problem may be the waste that results from doing big-budget projects quickly, with little oversight, in a war-torn country.

“Fraud has not been a significant component of the US experience in Iraq … waste is another matter,” said Stuart Bowen, special inspector general for Iraq, at a House hearing on February 15.

here

The three top auditors overseeing contract work in Iraq told a House committee of $10 billion in spending that was wasteful or poorly tracked. They pointed to numerous instances in which Defense and State department officials condoned or otherwise allowed poor accounting, repeated work delays, bloated expenses and payments for work shoddily or never done by U.S. contractors.

and here.

Though Defense has long been notorious for waste, recent government reports suggest the Pentagon’s money management woes have reached astronomical proportions. A study by the Defense Department’s inspector general found that the Pentagon couldn’t properly account for more than a trillion dollars in monies spent. A GAO report found Defense inventory systems so lax that the U.S.

Army lost track of 56 airplanes, 32 tanks, and 36 Javelin missile command launch-units. And before the Iraq war, when military leaders were scrambling to find enough chemical and biological warfare suits to protect U.S. troops, the department was caught selling these suits as surplus on the Internet “for pennies on the dollar,” a GAO official said.

Let’s not forget the $700 billion with a “b” Bush got Congress to approve that would place no restrictions on the administration of that money other than requiring semiannual reports to Congress.  That some of that money went on to build up the personal wealth of many people at the expense of the American taxpayer is without question.

The 116 banks that are receiving billions in taxpayer-provided bailout money this year actually paid out $1.6 billion in compensation and benefits to their top executives last year – even though the results at some of these institutions were so poor that they would soon have to turn to Washington for a government-engineered rescue.

The $1.6 billion was paid out to nearly 600 executives at the 116 banks that have so far accepted federal money to bolster their financial foundations, The Associated Press concluded after a review of U.S. securities filings. In addition to salary, the compensation included bonuses paid in both cash and stock. The benefits reaped by top executives included the use of company jets for personal purposes, personal chauffeurs, home-security services, country-club memberships and professional-wealth-management services, the news service said.

All of this happened during the Republican watch, so it’s really disingenuous of Boehner to claim that Obama has returned to big government spending…it’s never gone away or at least not in the last eight years.  With the Republican track record on the economy the way it is, the Party really shouldn’t throw rocks while they live in their glass houses.  My last parting shot at the Republicans who claimed the stimulus package bill was not read before passage comes this

This is not the first time this has happened. It happened with the TARP bailout bill (2008) that was rushed through Congress with few provisions for accountability; the Housing and Economic Recovery Act of 2008 which was Congress’ Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac bailout and the PATRIOT Act (2001) that was rushed through Congress before the bill was even printed.

Congressional legislation, which can consist of hundreds or even thousands of pages of text, is routinely drafted by congressional staff members, special interest groups and/or lobbyists and oftentimes is not even read by the members of congress themselves. Although the people, via the U.S. Constitution, have exclusively given Congress the power to write our laws, many of our representatives have delegated this power to their staff members, government agency bureaucrats, special interest groups and corporate lobbyists who prepare much of the legislation.

There’s nothing new to see here people, just move along.

Republicans have become the party of liars


Bush’s legacy is he has reduced his party to one of whiners and he has no one to blame but himself, as do both houses of Congress who have no one to blame but themselves.  It’s a pathetic group of politicians.  The latest offense that has really upset me is the one dealing with the financial bailout and the reasons why it is necessary.  The Republicans began by erroneously blaming minorities and Clinton for the Nation’s financial situation because of the Community Reinvestment Act, or CRA which allowed more and more members of minority communities to purchase homes and we called them on it, saying they were the party of sleaze and race baiting.  Unfortunately theirs is a mantra which works on some of their constituents, so they sent out their party hacks to repeat it and much like everything else they utter to cover for the party of race baiters, it’s a lie!  The cause of the housing meltdown lies solely at the feet of the Bush Administration!  You can read all about that here.

Now that they’ve deflected the blame for the cause of the problem, Republicans then set about to say why they can’t solve the problem, blaming a speech Nancy Pelosi gave on the House floor the day of the vote on the Administration’s bail out plan.  Typical.  Does this blame business ever get tiresome with these folks? Of course the corporate equally sleazy media picked up on and broadcast the excuse without commenting on how lame and ridiculous the excuse really was.  Only after Congressman Barney Frank made the comment of the year….”Because somebody hurt their feelings, they decided to punish the country? I don’t believe they had the votes. They are covering up the fact that they don’t have the votes.” did the Republicans come around to saying Pelosi’s verbal bombast wasn’t the reason the bill didn’t pass.

Quite simply the bill is a bad piece of legislation for reasons we’ve already mentioned on this blog, but those reasons are not why House Republicans voted against the measure.  As we’ve discussed the legislation gives broader powers to the executive and specifically the Treasury department than ever before, as well as removes oversight from the other two branches of government.  The Republicans have always given away this power when Bush asked for it, but this time, facing the possibility of defeat in the presidential elections as well as their own seats they decided to listen to the people or did they?  Does anyone else find it ironic that opponents of the bill are now saying such legislation should be more carefully thought out before coming to the floor for a vote?  I seem to remember a lot of peole saying the same thing during the war on terror series of voluminous reams of legislation that were always rushed through at the risk of its opponents being called traitors or siding with the enemies against us. That the Republicans would throw out red herrings which were picked up by the corporate media and hide the real fact of their opposition, that they don’t want to cede this kind of power to a Democratic administration on the eve of what they consider a likely defeat in the presidential elections is just one more example of the pandering and lies they engage in their efforts to frighten, threaten and intimidate the voting public.  I wish I could say at this time that the Democrats are a viable alternative.