Politicians are hypocritical, news at six.

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Politicians are hypocritical, news at six.

Postby podbaydoor » Mon Oct 18, 2010 8:45 pm UTC

http://www.npr.org/templates/story/stor ... =130602175

Stimulus, Earmark Critics Try Back Door For Funds
by AUDIE CORNISH
October 18, 2010
Congress passed the economic stimulus bill in early 2009, but with the unemployment rate still above 9 percent, the bill is a prime target of criticism and contempt on the 2010 campaign trail.

That doesn't mean lawmakers haven't been trying to get their hands on some stimulus money for their districts. Indeed, an investigation by the Center for Public Integrity finds that some of the bill's biggest critics worked behind the scenes to get a slice of the pie.

One of the major selling points of the stimulus bill was that it was supposed to be free of congressional earmarks — those little flags lawmakers plant in legislation claiming money for pet projects. President Obama celebrated the bill on its anniversary.

"I'm grateful that Congress agreed to my request that the bill include no earmarks," he said, "that all projects receive funding based solely on their merits."

But the Center for Public Integrity has discovered that lawmakers, instead of going through the congressional earmark process, have written directly to federal departments with backdoor requests for stimulus funds. It's a practice known as lettermarking, says John Solomon, an investigative journalist for the center, a nonprofit, nonpartisan research group.

"The letters one day were on my desk, and they were a foot high. ... I couldn't look over my desk and see my colleagues across the hallway," he says, "because literally there was a mountain of paper."

(The rest of the article under the spoiler)
Spoiler:
An About-Face

The center collected the letters using federal agency sources and the Freedom of Information Act.

The Obama administration tried to insulate the bill from lettermarks by ordering agencies not to consider the requests, Solomon says. But the calls and letters poured in, he says, from everyone from Democrats who had crowed there would be no earmarks to Republicans who had panned the stimulus bill for failing to create jobs.

"But when they wrote the letter to try to get money for their local district or local company, they said, 'This project is going to create jobs, and we hope you give it stimulus money,' and so their letters undercut the arguments they make politically on the campaign trail or on FOX and MSNBC," he says.

For instance, when the stimulus passed, Tennessee Republican Lamar Alexander spoke out against the bill on the Senate floor.

"It is not temporary. It is not targeted. It is not primarily creating jobs. It is not a stimulus bill. It is mostly a spending bill," he said.

But Alexander later wrote letters to the Transportation Department seeking stimulus grants for local projects he said would spur job creation.

Half a year after the bill passed, Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky told CNN the stimulus was a big mistake.

"I think we can fairly safely declare it now a failure," he said.

But that fall he wrote the Transportation Department endorsing a state application for stimulus funds for a rail project.

This year, conservative Democrat Walt Minnick of Idaho — one of seven Democrats to vote against the stimulus bill — is running ads touting his opposition.

"I've had to say 'no' far more than I've said 'yes.' I've said 'no' to government spending," he says in them.

But Minnick wrote the Commerce Department at least three times lobbying for stimulus funds for broadband projects.

None of these lawmakers would agree to a taped interview with NPR.

But staff from the offices of Minnick and Alexander issued written statements defending the right to aid constituents who ask for help. They said the lawmakers didn't necessarily get the grants they sought, and when they did, it was based on merit and competitive bidding.

Seeking Transparency

The Center for Public Integrity calls its report "Stimulating Hypocrisy."

"Well that's a strong word. Inconsistent for sure," said Republican Jim Walsh, a former New York congressman who is currently a lobbyist with K&L Gates.

Walsh served 20 years in the House, many of those on the Appropriations Committee. He says what matters more than the request is the response.

"When I was looking at bills and members were railing against earmarks and requesting them at the same time — that was duly noted," he said, meaning that those lawmakers who had earlier opposed earmarks didn't receive funding.

Without journalists and researchers filing requests under the Freedom of Information Act, there's no way for the public to know whether lettermarking is effective, says Ryan Alexander of the budget watchdog group Taxpayers for Common Sense.

"If the agencies get letters from members of Congress, they should make them public immediately. They should not wait for a FOIA," he said. "They should be clear about how those letters may or may not influence their decisions."

Now that these letters are public, investigators at the Center for Public Integrity say they hope to see voters demand more transparency from lawmakers.


Here's the link to the Center for Public Inquiry, with links for finding stimulus letters from your state.
http://www.publicintegrity.org/articles/entry/2532/

I guess I kind of find this bitterly funny, since I've encountered more than a few local residents and politicians in Missouri who often make the stimulus bill one of the bogeys they rail against...but Missouri has used the stimulus money for job creation programs (like the very successful State Park Youth Corps program) and improving highways and bridges.
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Re: Politicians are hypocritical, news at six.

Postby broken_escalator » Mon Oct 18, 2010 9:27 pm UTC

Its like the tea party signs demanding no taxes while they are using public things paid for (and maintained) by taxes.

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Re: Politicians are hypocritical, news at six.

Postby PeterCai » Mon Oct 18, 2010 9:34 pm UTC

broken_escalator wrote:Its like the tea party signs demanding no taxes while they are using public things paid for (and maintained) by taxes.


or, or, like democrats who use tax increase on the wealthiest 1% to subsidize the wealthiest 0.1%

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Re: Politicians are hypocritical, news at six.

Postby Telchar » Mon Oct 18, 2010 9:35 pm UTC

Matt Tiabi has been focusing on the hypocrisy of the tea party lately. It's amusing if not particularly helpful when it comes to breaking down policy. However he writes for Rolling Stone so entertainment is his goal.
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Re: Politicians are hypocritical, news at six.

Postby broken_escalator » Mon Oct 18, 2010 10:00 pm UTC

PeterCai wrote:
broken_escalator wrote:Its like the tea party signs demanding no taxes while they are using public things paid for (and maintained) by taxes.


or, or, like democrats who use tax increase on the wealthiest 1% to subsidize the wealthiest 0.1%

Yes, I agree. Or like when the green party um... wait do they do anything? /sarcasm

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Re: Politicians are hypocritical, news at six.

Postby Garm » Mon Oct 18, 2010 10:02 pm UTC

PeterCai wrote:
broken_escalator wrote:Its like the tea party signs demanding no taxes while they are using public things paid for (and maintained) by taxes.


or, or, like democrats who use tax increase on the wealthiest 1% to subsidize the wealthiest 0.1%


Better that than taxing the bottom 99% to subsidize the top 1%.
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Re: Politicians are hypocritical, news at six.

Postby Anubis » Mon Oct 18, 2010 10:39 pm UTC

Garm wrote:
PeterCai wrote:
broken_escalator wrote:Its like the tea party signs demanding no taxes while they are using public things paid for (and maintained) by taxes.


or, or, like democrats who use tax increase on the wealthiest 1% to subsidize the wealthiest 0.1%


Better that than taxing the bottom 99% to subsidize the top 1%.


I guess it's lucky, then, that neither of those things has ever actually happened...
Last edited by Anubis on Tue Oct 19, 2010 1:48 am UTC, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Politicians are hypocritical, news at six.

Postby mmmcannibalism » Mon Oct 18, 2010 11:35 pm UTC

broken_escalator wrote:Its like the tea party signs demanding no taxes while they are using public things paid for (and maintained) by taxes.


That's not hypocritical.

If person A opposes government intervening in X because they want it handled privately, but the government still takes tax money from A to pay for X; A has every right to use a program that is funded by their money.

It's only hypocritical to demand more government programs and less taxes.
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Re: Politicians are hypocritical, news at six.

Postby sardia » Tue Oct 19, 2010 12:30 am UTC

mmmcannibalism wrote:
broken_escalator wrote:Its like the tea party signs demanding no taxes while they are using public things paid for (and maintained) by taxes.


That's not hypocritical.

If person A opposes government intervening in X because they want it handled privately, but the government still takes tax money from A to pay for X; A has every right to use a program that is funded by their money.

It's only hypocritical to demand more government programs and less taxes.

But Tea Party members do demand that. All of them demand health care bill being repealed, and getting a balanced budget. However, they can't reconcile how to pay for medicare/medicaid, defense, and social security with the current budget.

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Re: Politicians are hypocritical, news at six.

Postby mmmcannibalism » Tue Oct 19, 2010 12:50 am UTC

sardia wrote:
mmmcannibalism wrote:
broken_escalator wrote:Its like the tea party signs demanding no taxes while they are using public things paid for (and maintained) by taxes.


That's not hypocritical.

If person A opposes government intervening in X because they want it handled privately, but the government still takes tax money from A to pay for X; A has every right to use a program that is funded by their money.

It's only hypocritical to demand more government programs and less taxes.

But Tea Party members do demand that. All of them demand health care bill being repealed, and getting a balanced budget. However, they can't reconcile how to pay for medicare/medicaid, defense, and social security with the current budget.


Then it is hypocritical if they are in fact claiming precisely that.


Just to state the reverse, if you believe health care should be provided for by the government; it isn't hypocritical to still buy private coverage if they don't.
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Re: Politicians are hypocritical, news at six.

Postby Silknor » Tue Oct 19, 2010 1:13 am UTC

It's not really hypocritical to oppose the stimulus and then try to get stimulus funds (or more plainly, tout ribbon cutting and ground breaking ceremonies for stimulus projects). You can be opposed to the stimulus, but still recognize that the worst position is to have your state/district pay the taxes that support the stimulus but not have any of the projects come back to them.

The same is true for earmarks. You can honestly believe that earmarks are bad, but still know that if your district/state has to pay for them, the best thing for your constituents is to at least get some benefits.

Lettermarking it self seems problematic because of transparency issues, even if the data is available through FOIA requests, it's much harder to get than it should be. But the problem isn't that some people act rationally in what is essentially a Prisoner's Dilemma with many players (from the point of view of those who oppose the stimulus/ear/lettermarks, the cooperative equilibrium is no spending, but the worst outcome is spending without benefits to your constituents, so the rational move is to support it and get benefits).
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Re: Politicians are hypocritical, news at six.

Postby Jahoclave » Tue Oct 19, 2010 1:56 am UTC

podbaydoor wrote:
"The letters one day were on my desk, and they were a foot high. ... I couldn't look over my desk and see my colleagues across the hallway," he says, "because literally there was a mountain of paper."

You know what would be the greatest thing ever. If he made a video of him lighting that stack on fire and addressed it with. "Dear Congress, concerning your requests for funding your pet projects because you couldn't earmark funds in the bill..."

I guess I kind of find this bitterly funny, since I've encountered more than a few local residents and politicians in Missouri who often make the stimulus bill one of the bogeys they rail against...but Missouri has used the stimulus money for job creation programs (like the very successful State Park Youth Corps program) and improving highways and bridges.

Fucktards in Missouri, stay tuned for the 10 o'clock news. Speaking of which, I actually got snail mail hatemail from a local dipshit who didn't take kindly to his stunningly inaccurate reading of the newspaper articles about book banning.

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Re: Politicians are hypocritical, news at six.

Postby CorruptUser » Tue Oct 19, 2010 2:36 am UTC

sardia wrote:
mmmcannibalism wrote:
broken_escalator wrote:Its like the tea party signs demanding no taxes while they are using public things paid for (and maintained) by taxes.


That's not hypocritical.

If person A opposes government intervening in X because they want it handled privately, but the government still takes tax money from A to pay for X; A has every right to use a program that is funded by their money.

It's only hypocritical to demand more government programs and less taxes.

But Tea Party members do demand that. All of them demand health care bill being repealed, and getting a balanced budget. However, they can't reconcile how to pay for medicare/medicaid, defense, and social security with the current budget.


Actually, most Tea Parties want medicare/medicaid and social security to face severe cuts. Military too, but that's much more variable.

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Re: Politicians are hypocritical, news at six.

Postby Triangle_Man » Tue Oct 19, 2010 5:54 am UTC

mmmcannibalism wrote:
broken_escalator wrote:Its like the tea party signs demanding no taxes while they are using public things paid for (and maintained) by taxes.


That's not hypocritical.

If person A opposes government intervening in X because they want it handled privately, but the government still takes tax money from A to pay for X; A has every right to use a program that is funded by their money.

It's only hypocritical to demand more government programs and less taxes.


This reminds me of the controversy over the HST or Harmonized Sales Tax in my country. I'm always wondering how many of the people who complain about the HST want more funding to go to Social Survices in my nieghborhood.

Granted, part of the outrage over the HST came from how it was introduced, but you get the point.
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Re: Politicians are hypocritical, news at six.

Postby sardia » Tue Oct 19, 2010 6:00 am UTC

Counterpoint, define tea party.
I define them as the GOP party, except with a different label. The tea party is a diverse group, (not really, but they aren't homogeneous) I can only define them as a whole via the republican party. They don't have the votes to cut any of these programs, nor the balls to even ask. Remember what happened when Bush tried to restructure social security? I don't recall many anyone calling for cuts to medicare/medicaid except with regard to the health care bill. When was this?

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Re: Politicians are hypocritical, news at six.

Postby mmmcannibalism » Tue Oct 19, 2010 12:46 pm UTC

sardia wrote:Counterpoint, define tea party.
I define them as the GOP party, except with a different label. The tea party is a diverse group, (not really, but they aren't homogeneous) I can only define them as a whole via the republican party. They don't have the votes to cut any of these programs, nor the balls to even ask. Remember what happened when Bush tried to restructure social security? I don't recall many anyone calling for cuts to medicare/medicaid except with regard to the health care bill. When was this?


I would say the part of the Republican party that is angry enough at the Democrats and the Republican establishment to start contests in republican primaries.

The problem lies in the giant differences in ideology; the tea party runs from theocratic fascists(is there a shorter term for people who want crazy Jesus to run the country?) to libertarians, to states rights(the not racist ones), to strict constitutionalists.
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Re: Politicians are hypocritical, news at six.

Postby Crius » Tue Oct 19, 2010 5:34 pm UTC

podbaydoor wrote:I guess I kind of find this bitterly funny, since I've encountered more than a few local residents and politicians in Missouri who often make the stimulus bill one of the bogeys they rail against...but Missouri has used the stimulus money for job creation programs (like the very successful State Park Youth Corps program) and improving highways and bridges.


This isn't hypocritical; it's simply dealing with the reality of sunk costs. The stimulus money is going to get spent somewhere. If not in Missouri, it will be in another state. They can't simply request the money that would go to Missouri simply not get spent. (If they could, we'd be in a prisoner's dilemma scenario instead).

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Re: Politicians are hypocritical, news at six.

Postby podbaydoor » Tue Oct 19, 2010 8:17 pm UTC

I suppose I can understand that, but I doubt the local geniuses who got nudity banned in strip clubs have risen to that level of sophisticated thought.
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Re: Politicians are hypocritical, news at six.

Postby Garm » Tue Oct 19, 2010 9:01 pm UTC

Anubis wrote:
Garm wrote:
PeterCai wrote:
broken_escalator wrote:Its like the tea party signs demanding no taxes while they are using public things paid for (and maintained) by taxes.


or, or, like democrats who use tax increase on the wealthiest 1% to subsidize the wealthiest 0.1%


Better that than taxing the bottom 99% to subsidize the top 1%.


I guess it's lucky, then, that neither of those things has ever actually happened...


What then, pray tell, would you call a massive tax cut for the rich that's paid for out of loans against social security money?

http://motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2010/08/deal

Most of the suggestions regarding paying for the massive deficit left behind by the Bush tax cuts involve the evisceration of social security and medicare. The rich benefit most from these tax breaks but the rest of us have spent a lot of time and money paying into these two programs. How's that not a subsidization of the top 1%?
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Re: Politicians are hypocritical, news at six.

Postby mmmcannibalism » Tue Oct 19, 2010 11:36 pm UTC

Spoiler:
Garm wrote:
Anubis wrote:
Garm wrote:
PeterCai wrote:
broken_escalator wrote:Its like the tea party signs demanding no taxes while they are using public things paid for (and maintained) by taxes.


or, or, like democrats who use tax increase on the wealthiest 1% to subsidize the wealthiest 0.1%


Better that than taxing the bottom 99% to subsidize the top 1%.


I guess it's lucky, then, that neither of those things has ever actually happened...


What then, pray tell, would you call a massive tax cut for the rich that's paid for out of loans against social security money?

http://motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2010/08/deal

Most of the suggestions regarding paying for the massive deficit left behind by the Bush tax cuts involve the evisceration of social security and medicare. The rich benefit most from these tax breaks but the rest of us have spent a lot of time and money paying into these two programs. How's that not a subsidization of the top 1%?


By definition, cutting everyone's taxes in a progressive system will benefit the rich the most.
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Re: Politicians are hypocritical, news at six.

Postby bobjoesmith » Wed Oct 20, 2010 2:33 am UTC

A brief preface: I heard an interesting concept being discussed the other day: "Dictatorship day." 364 days have the standard bickering and then 1 day, invite all those leading Harvard professors, Nobel laureates, top surgeons to come in and rule. Let the experts decide for one day, solve big problems instantly, and leave the politics to the other 364.

Because taking the economy for example: tax cuts and no tax cuts BOTH work. No tax cuts means people will spend more; circular flow + multiplier effect = 1$ not taxed = +multiple dollars. However, taxing works too. More tax = more government expenditure = higher GDP (GDP = consumption + govt + capital investment + exports - import); high GDP= high production = good economy. The key to taxes in debates isnt the philosophy per se, but rather the rhetoric to make the other side sound bad. Oh he wants to raise taxes on people! But HE wants to cut all your benefits, he wants the same economic policy as before. All bull. Whether or not Bush was in office would have not iota of effect on the crash. Obama could heal puppies by touching them and still not give people jobs. The crash was going to happen- you can debate its severity, but something was coming. Boom -> bust -> boom is just the way things are. 80% of economics (made up statistic) talked about in politics are bull. Polticians suck because they will misrepresent everything to get their votes. Too bad all we CAN vote for are politicians who are out for the sole purpose of getting votes; thats the real irony in a democracy.

So? Conclusion? Let some smart people decide. With that, two webcomics not XKCD (gasp) http://www.smbc-comics.com/index.php?db ... 2027#comic and more importantly http://www.smbc-comics.com/index.php?db ... 2008#comic

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Re: Politicians are hypocritical, news at six.

Postby mmmcannibalism » Wed Oct 20, 2010 2:44 am UTC

Who decides which smart people get to be in charge that day?
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Re: Politicians are hypocritical, news at six.

Postby Garm » Wed Oct 20, 2010 2:59 am UTC

mmmcannibalism wrote:Who decides which smart people get to be in charge that day?


Maybe they should all argue about that the other 364 days of the year. :D
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Re: Politicians are hypocritical, news at six.

Postby mmmcannibalism » Wed Oct 20, 2010 3:01 am UTC

Garm wrote:
mmmcannibalism wrote:Who decides which smart people get to be in charge that day?


Maybe they should all argue about that the other 364 days of the year. :D


Touche good sir,
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Re: Politicians are hypocritical, news at six.

Postby Jahoclave » Thu Oct 21, 2010 1:19 am UTC

mmmcannibalism wrote:Who decides which smart people get to be in charge that day?

By a simple method I like to call.

DIBS ON THAT DAY!

You're welcome America.


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