Jewish World Review December 31, 2012/ 18 Teves, 5773
The Sandy Claus Bill
By Paul Greenberg
While the national spotlight is on the looming Fiscal Cliff and whether the country will go over it, plunging into the roaring waters below -- cue scary music -- the usual high-rollers (with your money, Dear Taxpayer) have seen their chance. They've put together the mother of all log-rolling, patronage-dispensing, pork-distributing appropriation bills, and are about to sneak it through the
What a grab bag of a bill, with the emphasis on grab. By the time you read this, the whole list of goodies may have received the Senate Seal of Approval, which comes to resemble a rubber stamp. Though it's hard to imagine the Republican-dominated House going meekly along. The bill certainly follows the order of priorities our president has favored for years now: spend first, think later -- if at all. And set 'em up again. It's all on the house, or rather the
Naturally, this grab is called an Emergency Relief Bill, purportedly for the benefit of victims of Hurricane Sandy, although it might be more accurately described as the Sandy Claus Bill. For any relation between the devastation Sandy caused and the long list of this bill's beneficiaries may be only coincidental. For example: Fisheries in
There's a couple of million in the bill for a new roof on
Three million-some-odd artifacts (some very odd indeed) are rattling around the Smithsonian's vast storage closet of a "history" museum. They seem to bear no relation to each other or to the purpose of a museum -- if the Smithsonian has a purpose other than demonstrating how a fine example of late Victorian architecture can be swamped by a blank 1960ish addition, and make a crammed hall closet look like a model of organization. (If every decade has a stereotype -- the buttoned-down 1950s, the gaudy leisure-suited '70s -- the 1960s could be summed up as Where We Went Wrong.)
So the Smithsonian sits there like something out of the Addams Family cartoons, trapping light and appropriations, a vast mix of the fine and vulgar, the inconsequential and the overpowering. Sometimes called The Nation's Attic, the Smithsonian's history museum certainly looks like one, a long-neglected one. An immensity of objects big and small and huge have piled up over the years -- from a magnificent steam locomotive circa 1926 to a pink
All in disconnected all, the Smithsonian is about as coherent as this bill now speeding through the
You name a pet cause of the nanny-state (
Some senators have tried to stop this steamroller, but it's unlikely they'll succeed, not when so many other senators would like to take the money for their constituencies and run. Whistleblowers like
The quarterback behind this sneak play is, of course, the Hon.
Meanwhile, the Fiscal Cliff grows higher, the national debt deeper, and innocents may still wonder how we got into such a mess. They need look no further than this Emergency "Relief" bill, which mainly relieves taxpayers of their money.
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JWR contributor Paul Greenberg, editorial page editor of the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, has won the Pulitzer Prize for editorial writing. Send your comments by clicking here.
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