From Thurber's Thoughts:
Chuck Muth (Citizen Outreach: The Blog), in his 'News & Views' brief, has been keeping track of Sen. Tom Coburn's anti-pork efforts in the Senate.
Coburn had proposed several amendments to the Transportation Bill currently being debated.
One amendment was designed to halt spending on earmarks until deficient roads and bridges are repaired.
Another amendment would have eliminated federal spending on bike paths, arguing that federal transportation dollars shouldn't be spent on such local amenities before correcting deteriorating bridges.
A third amendment would have removed three specific earmarks from the bill:
* $500,000 for a new baseball stadium in
* $450,000 for the
* $400,000 to construct a "
Now, certainly these are not transportation projects and really don't belong in a transportation bill, if they need federal funding at all.
It failed, too.
On the third amendment, 32 senators (31 R's and 1 D) voted to remove these specific projects - which means about 1/3 of the senate agreed that such projects don't belong in the transportation bill.
On the second amendment, only 18 senators (all R's) indicated that they believe bike paths aren't as important as infrastructure.
On the first amendment, Coburn got only 14 senators (12 R's and 2 D's) to support prioritizing deficient bridge and road repair over their own self interests of pork projects.
As Muth says: "The problem is spending. The problem is Congress. The problem is...how do you stop them?"
Comment: I can offer one solution to the problem, and that is to repeal the 16th and 17th Amendments. Since we enacted these amendments in 1913 giving Congress the ability to reach into our wallets, and removed the representation of the states in congress, spending has been on a steady increase, as has the size of government. Moreover, since the 1960s this growth has skyrocketed. Basically, we have put a huge amount of unchecked power and authority into the hands of a few. This is a complete anathema of all of the founders’ original intent. In order to turn the tide we must remove the power of direct taxation of the citizenry from Congress and return power back to the states.
A few obstacles stand in the way of this:
- Ignorance of US History and the foundation of the US Constitution;
- Power consolidation by the oligarchs in the US Senate;
- The increased power of the two major parties that assist and further the centralization of power in Washington;
- Special interest groups that also assist and further power consolidation in Washington;
- Apathy of the average citizen;
- Steady movement to the left in this country and the acceptance of “state” solutions over individual responsibility;
- And the complete ignorance of state assemblies function in the federal government.
While I admit that these are substantial obstacles, I do believe that if enough folks got involved we could turn back the tide that a very few are driving us toward.