The proposed aid package to help people mitigate damage from hurricane Sandy is a good illustration of why the government can’t decrease spending. Instead of just dealing with storm damage, Obama’s $60.4 billion request for hurricane Sandy relief, which was passed by the 112th Senate but not the House, has morphed into a pork-laden give-away to special interests. The 113th Congress has passed an interim $9.7 billion aid bill leaving the remainder in limbo.
According to the New York Post, the hurricane Sandy aide package included: $8 million to buy cars and equipment for the Homeland Security and Justice departments; $150 million for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration to dole out to fisheries in Alaska; $2 million for the Smithsonian Institution to repair museum roofs in DC; $13 billion for”mitigation” projects to prepare for future storms; $207 million for the VA Manhattan Medical Center; $41 million to fix up eight military bases along the storm’s path, including Guantanamo Bay, Cuba; $4 million for repairs at Kennedy Space Center in Florida; $3.3 million for the Plum Island Animal Disease Center and $1.1 million to repair national cemeteries.
The legislation dealing with the “fiscal cliff” was also laden with pork, mainly to help crony capitalists in the renewable energy sector. According to the Heritage Foundation:
“The fiscal cliff deal is not only preventing certain politically motivated energy tax policies from falling off the cliff, but it’s also resurrecting ones that have been dead and buried for a year.
“Lumped into the 157-page fiscal cliff bill are extensions of energy handouts that were originally scheduled to retire, as well as retroactively rewarded tax breaks for renewable energy that expired at the end of 2011. The inclusion of these targeted tax breaks is a clear indication that Congress is not serious about (1) reducing spending, (2) ending the government’s meddling in the energy sector, or (3) standing up against political interests.
“The extension and resurrection of the targeted tax credits will reduce revenue by $18 billion over 10 years. Production tax credits for wind (totaling $12 billion) were renewed for another year and made even more generous. Thanks to the new bill, wind and other renewable energy projects can receive the tax credit simply by starting construction by 2013, rather than once they begin generating electricity, as the law originally specified.
“Further, the fiscal cliff deal retroactively rewards a production tax credit for biofuel and biodiesel production, which expired in 2011, and extends it through 2013. Tax credit extensions also go out to electric motorcycles, alternative fueling stations, coal facilities on Indian lands, cellulosic ethanol, and energy efficient windows, appliances, and new homes.”
This situation reminds me of a quote attributed to former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher: “The problem with socialism is that eventually you run out of other people’s money.” Congress has yet to acknowledge that caveat. Apparently, nothing in Washington, D.C. can be straight forward. Instead, almost everything is laden with pork-packed proposals for pet projects.