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"The Pork King Keeps His Crown"


Credit where credit is due: the New York Times came up with that article title, and I just had to "appropriate" it for use here.

Anyway, Abscam Jack Murtha made another seriously good haul for his district in 2007, bringing home $162 million in pork and favors, according to Taxpayers for Common Sense, a nonpartisan budget watchdog group. Such huge district favors are nothing new for the would-be House leader, who has spent years buying his permanent place in Congress by bringing home bacon by the tonne.

Besides Abscam and Pork, Murtha is best known, of course, for being the most outspoken (and uninformed) critic on Capitol Hill of the Iraq War, the Bush defense policy, and of the military as a whole. However, he had an eleventh-hour change of tune on Iraq this winter, when he went back on months of attacks and rampages and actually cited "progress" on his return from a Thanksgiving-week trip to Iraq -- a move which fit into the shifting narrative on that country (as seen by Congressmen suddenly admitting progress there, and by the media dropping Iraq as a topic altogether) far too well (and countered his previous, venemously-defended positions far too strongly) to be sincere.

Said the Times with regard to Murtha:
The new earmark disclosure rules put into effect by Congress confirm the pre-eminence of Representative John Murtha at procuring eye-popping chunks of pork for contractors he helped put in business in Johnstown, Pa. The Pennsylvania Democrat, a power player on defense appropriations, exudes pride, not embarrassment, for delivering hundreds of millions of dollars in largesse to district beneficiaries. They, in turn, requite with hundreds of thousands of dollars in campaign donations.

The top appropriators in the Senate were, sadly, Republicans, as was the second-leading Porker in the House. According to The Hill, which got its numbers from the Taxpayers for Common Sense study:
Sen. Thad Cochran (Miss.), ranking Republican on the Senate Appropriations Committee, has collected $774 million worth of earmarks in 12 spending bills. After Cochran, Sen. Ted Stevens (Alaska), the second-ranking Republican on Appropriations, secured more money for special projects than any other member of Congress: $502 million.
Rep. Bill Young (Fla.), the ranking Republican on the Appropriations Defense Subcommittee, is the second-biggest recipient of earmarked funds in the House, securing $161 million.
"Republican appropriators argue they are following the rules, that their work is open to public scrutiny, and that they are taking care of their constituents' needs," according to The Hill. Sadly, this shows that the GOP still hasn't learned a major lesson of 2006, and is simply refusing to accept the fact that, to be taken seriously as the party of fiscal responsibility, you actually have to act in a was consistent with your words and stated beliefs.


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