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Jonathan Tobin: Defending the Right to a Jewish State

Heather Hale: Compliment your kids without giving them big heads

Megan Shauri: 10 ways you are ruining your own happiness

Carolyn Bigda: 8 Best Dividend Stocks for 2015

Kiplinger's Personal Finance editors: 7 Things You Didn't Know About Paying Off Student Loans

Samantha Olson: The Crucial Mistake 55% Of Parents Are Making At Their Baby's Bedtime

Densie Well, Ph.D., R.D. Open your eyes to yellow vegetables

The Kosher Gourmet by Megan Gordon With its colorful cache of purples and oranges and reds, COLLARD GREEN SLAW is a marvelous mood booster --- not to mention just downright delish
April 18, 2014

Rabbi Yonason Goldson: Clarifying one of the greatest philosophical conundrums in theology

Caroline B. Glick: The disappearance of US will

Megan Wallgren: 10 things I've learned from my teenagers

Lizette Borreli: Green Tea Boosts Brain Power, May Help Treat Dementia

John Ericson: Trying hard to be 'positive' but never succeeding? Blame Your Brain

The Kosher Gourmet by Julie Rothman Almondy, flourless torta del re (Italian king's cake), has royal roots, is simple to make, . . . but devour it because it's simply delicious

April 14, 2014

Rabbi Dr Naftali Brawer: Passover frees us from the tyranny of time

Greg Crosby: Passing Over Religion

Eric Schulzke: First degree: How America really recovered from a murder epidemic

Georgia Lee: When love is not enough: Teaching your kids about the realities of adult relationships

Cameron Huddleston: Freebies for Your Lawn and Garden

Gordon Pape: How you can tell if your financial adviser is setting you up for potential ruin

Dana Dovey: Up to 500,000 people die each year from hepatitis C-related liver disease. New Treatment Has Over 90% Success Rate

Justin Caba: Eating Watermelon Can Help Control High Blood Pressure

The Kosher Gourmet by Joshua E. London and Lou Marmon Don't dare pass over these Pesach picks for Manischewitz!

April 11, 2014

Rabbi Hillel Goldberg: Silence is much more than golden

Caroline B. Glick: Forgetting freedom at Passover

Susan Swann: How to value a child for who he is, not just what he does

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Financial Tasks You Should Tackle Right Now

Sandra Block and Lisa Gerstner: How to Profit From Your Passion

Susan Scutti: A Simple Blood Test Might Soon Diagnose Cancer

Chris Weller: Have A Slow Metabolism? Let Science Speed It Up For You

The Kosher Gourmet by Diane Rossen Worthington Whitefish Terrine: A French take on gefilte fish

April 9, 2014

Jonathan Tobin: Why Did Kerry Lie About Israeli Blame?

Samuel G. Freedman: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Jessica Ivins: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Kim Giles: Asking for help is not weakness

Kathy Kristof and Barbara Hoch Marcus: 7 Great Growth Israeli Stocks

Matthew Mientka: How Beans, Peas, And Chickpeas Cleanse Bad Cholesterol and Lowers Risk of Heart Disease

Sabrina Bachai: 5 At-Home Treatments For Headaches

The Kosher Gourmet by Daniel Neman Have yourself a matzo ball: The secrets bubby never told you and recipes she could have never imagined

April 8, 2014

Lori Nawyn: At Your Wit's End and Back: Finding Peace

Susan B. Garland and Rachel L. Sheedy: Strategies Married Couples Can Use to Boost Benefits

David Muhlbaum: Smart Tax Deductions Non-Itemizers Can Claim

Jill Weisenberger, M.S., R.D.N., C.D.E : Before You Lose Your Mental Edge

Dana Dovey: Coffee Drinkers Rejoice! Your Cup Of Joe Can Prevent Death From Liver Disease

Chris Weller: Electric 'Thinking Cap' Puts Your Brain Power Into High Gear

The Kosher Gourmet by Marlene Parrish A gift of hazelnuts keeps giving --- for a variety of nutty recipes: Entree, side, soup, dessert

April 4, 2014

Rabbi David Gutterman: The Word for Nothing Means Everything

Charles Krauthammer: Kerry's folly, Chapter 3

Amy Peterson: A life of love: How to build lasting relationships with your children

John Ericson: Older Women: Save Your Heart, Prevent Stroke Don't Drink Diet

John Ericson: Why 50 million Americans will still have spring allergies after taking meds

Cameron Huddleston: Best and Worst Buys of April 2014

Stacy Rapacon: Great Mutual Funds for Young Investors

Sarah Boesveld: Teacher keeps promise to mail thousands of former students letters written by their past selves

The Kosher Gourmet by Sharon Thompson Anyone can make a salad, you say. But can they make a great salad? (SECRETS, TESTED TECHNIQUES + 4 RECIPES, INCLUDING DRESSINGS)

April 2, 2014

Paul Greenberg: Death and joy in the spring

Dan Barry: Should South Carolina Jews be forced to maintain this chimney built by Germans serving the Nazis?

Mayra Bitsko: Save me! An alien took over my child's personality

Frank Clayton: Get happy: 20 scientifically proven happiness activities

Susan Scutti: It's Genetic! Obesity and the 'Carb Breakdown' Gene

Lecia Bushak: Why Hand Sanitizer May Actually Harm Your Health

Stacy Rapacon: Great Funds You Can Own for $500 or Less

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Ways to Save on Home Decor

The Kosher Gourmet by Steve Petusevsky Exploring ingredients as edible-stuffed containers (TWO RECIPES + TIPS & TECHINQUES)

Jewish World Review August 13, 2007 / 29 Menachem-Av, 5767

Congress tries to pull a fast one on earmark reform

By John H. Fund


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http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | In a sign of just how deeply entrenched Congress's pork barrel culture has become, Democrats on Capitol Hill are delaying sending President Bush an ethics bill they've already passed that purports to reform lobbyist reporting and earmarks. The reason? They're afraid Mr. Bush will veto the bill, which makes only cosmetic changes on the earmark process, gutting the reforms Congress voted earlier this year. The White House has called what remains "worthless."


"We've been waiting for whether or not they would veto the bill before we sent it out," Jim Manley, a spokesman for Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, told Politico.com. "We want a better handle on what the White House plans to do. We'll send it when we're ready."


Why the game of chicken? Earmarks are now a major industry on Capitol Hill, accounting, for example, for nearly 10% of the last transportation bill. As Sen. Tom Coburn of Oklahoma points out, they also serve as a "gateway drug" used to buy votes for much bigger-ticket spending bills like the 2003 Medicare prescription-drug entitlement.


Pretending that the earmark process will be made transparent and accountable as a result of a phony ethics bill is vital to Congress's effort to convince voters they've sobered up on spending. Among other travesties, the new ethics bill strips out previously agreed-upon language barring members from trading earmarks for votes, and in the Senate vests none other than Majority Leader Reid with the power to determine if an item is subject to earmark-disclosure rules.


Concealing just how the pork-barrel culture works is important to congressmen in both parties, because the process can't really be defended on the merits. Nothing illustrates that better than the exchange that took place just before Congress broke for its August recess between Democratic Rep. John Murtha, the overlord of spending on the House Appropriations Committee, and GOP Rep. John Campbell, a antipork reformer from California.


Mr. Campbell, a certified accountant, rose to challenge a $2 million earmark for a "paint shield" being developed by the Sherwin-Williams Co. in Cleveland. Since the actual sponsor of the earmark, Rep. Stephanie Tubbs-Jones, chose not to defend her handiwork, Mr. Murtha took up the cudgel on her behalf. Mr. Campbell simply wanted to know if the Pentagon had asked for the paint shield, since the rationale for the spending was that it would "protect people against microbial threats."


Mr. Murtha imperiously assured Mr. Campbell that the shield was "a very worthwhile project," and that "I'm sure the military is interested in this kind of research."


Mr. Campbell persisted and asked if, "in fact, the military has asked for this kind of technology?" When Mr. Murtha was silent, Mr. Campbell said, "I guess the answer to that is no."


He then proceeded to ask if any research had been done to show that the "paint shield" would actually be effective. An impatient Mr. Murtha replied that "we look at every [earmark]. We ask the members to vet them. Our staff vets them. We go over every single earmark." But he could offer no evidence of the effectiveness of the shield beyond saying that Sherwin-Williams was "a very qualified contractor."


When asked if other paint companies working on a similar product had been given the opportunity to bid on the research, Mr. Murtha claimed in exasperation that "every one of these earmarks [is] competitively granted under the regulations of the Defense Department," and that for their $2 million outlay, the taxpayers would own the fruits of whatever Sherwin-Williams came up with in its lab.


Mr. Campbell explained that the whole point of an earmark is that it bypasses normal competitive bidding and guarantees the recipient doesn't have to compete for federal money. In addition, taxpayers are rarely, if ever, given ownership of any part of the research they pay for, since companies and universities routinely seek earmarks so they can get the government to foot the bill for their basic research.


The Campbell-Murtha exchange vividly illustrates why many Americans would be upset if the earmark process were ever opened up to serious scrutiny. Members of both parties are complicit in keeping the game going and trying to foist a fake reform bill off on President Bush. Only 17 senators tried to block passage of the bill. Mr. Campbell won only 91 votes, less than a quarter of the House, for his amendment to strike the paint shield.


The Club for Growth has just issued a "RePORK card" grading every House member on 50 amendments to kill outrageous pork projects this year. The results are illuminating. The Pork Hall of Shame — those who voted against all 50 reform amendments — totaled 105 — 81 Democrats and 24 Republicans. The average GOP score was 43%, the average Democratic score only 2%. Only one Democrat voted against pork more than a fifth of the time — Rep. Jim Cooper of Tennessee, who racked up a 98% antipork score and is unlikely to be invited to dinner with any Appropriations Committee chairmen anytime soon.


The best way to change Congress's culture would be for Mr. Bush to reject the faux reform bill. Nothing would more anger the spending barons of Congress or highlight just how the budget process has become perverted. Even if Congress were to override Mr. Bush's veto, the debate would be tremendously educational for voters.


Already, a knowledge of the excesses of earmarks is starting to seep into the popular culture. GOP Sen. Ted Stevens, the so-called King of Pork, recently suffered the humiliation of seeing FBI agents raid his Alaskan home in search of evidence in an earmark-corruption scandal. He has become semi-famous as the defender of such earmark outrages as the "Bridge to Nowhere."


Last week comedian Drew Carey took a jab at Mr. Stevens while he explained his new duties as the host of the game show "The Price is Right." Mr. Carey told NBC's "Today" show that he had warmed to the idea of hosting the show: "You're giving away prizes all day and making everybody happy. . . . You couldn't do better." But then he explained the best part of the job: "And it's not even your money. You're giving away money and getting credit for it. I feel like a congressman. I'm like the junior Ted Stevens."


Members of Congress like to think of themselves in pursuing the national interest in a dignified manner. Exposing how earmarks really work would make maintaining that image all the more difficult. Members would much prefer to keep the game show going and keep the details of who foots the bill hidden behind the curtain.

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JWR contributor John H. Fund is author, most recently, of "Stealing Elections: How Voter Fraud Threatens Our Democracy". (Click HERE to purchase. Sales help fund JWR.)

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