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Congress Needs to Do Better

Story ID:4084
Written by:Suzana Margaret Megles (bio, contact, other stories)
Story type:Musings, Essays and Such
Location:Washington District of Columbia USA
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I guess most of us are tired of all the bad news - here's some more! It's not really
new - just a refinement of problems connected with Congressional earmarks and
Medicaid. I too am not crazy about tackling the "heavy stuff" - but then how can I
be an intelligent voter if I don't. So today I got myself in the mood to read Waste
Watch a newsletter put out by the Citizens Against Government Waste.

After reading only 2 of the 16 pages, I was already dejected over their findings.
I knew about earmarks but their April article revealed more than I had known before.

They started with the unveiling of their 2008 Congressional Pig Book-- detailing
the pork earmark projects worth 17.2 billion (p.5). (I don't like them using the
words "pig" and "pork" in this way. They also have a "swine" blog. I think it is unfair
to the pigs who have been maligned I guess from day one. One myth of many I can
dispell now. They don't relish mud baths. Given the choice of mud or a clean water
pool, they chose the pool each time.) I found this diversion necessary because I don't
like to see any animal maligned without basis in fact and the pig sadly is used badly

The article continues with an April 28 Washington Post article written by columnist
Jeff Birnbaun revealing the discovery of a six-page pro-earmark memorandum
circulating on Capitol Hill. Trying to find the source of this memo, he reported that he
would get an e-mail from the president of the Ferguson Group, a lobbying outfit for local
governments informing him he had his staff prepare the memo to "tell its clients why
'they tended to get more money from congressional earmarks than from federal agencies
left to their own devices.'"

CAGW Media Director Leslie Paige in a post about the memo on CAGW's blog attacked the
memo's central aguments that congressional earmarking is "more democratic than the
agency decision-reported making process." She asks sarcastically why "when the
congressional earmarking process is just so darned equitable and just, don't we permit
those selfless, noble lawmakers to earmark the whole darn federal buget?...."

I don't know about you - but I felt elated reading her remarks. I am ashamed of a Congress
which allows this shameful procedure to continue. But no one seems to have the will or
courage to stop it. To his credit, Sen. Jim DeMint (R-S.C.) offered an amendment to impose
a one-year moratorium on earmarks. The measure failed by a vote of 29-71.

Another woman with a common-sensed approach to a problem also appeared in this same
issue. In the Guest Column (Thwarting Sanity in Medicaid) Grace-Marie Turner (president
of the Galen Institute) notes that legislation is making its way through Congress with
the intent of injecting some fiscal prudence in the vast Medicaid program. The Government
Accountability Office (GAO) and the Office of the Inspector General (OIG) at the Department
of Health and Human Services have identified about seven loopholes open to waste and
illegal use of Medicaid funds. This legislation would close them.

The White House agreed that the loopholes must be closed but the House of Representatives
who see themselves as "protectors" of Medicaid are trying to block implementation of the
new rules.

The GAO found that many states are gaming the system for their own non-medicaid uses.
One state was found using the funds to help finance its education programs and other states
were discovered using funds for other non-Medicaid purposes. (Are there any honest people
in government?)

Unrelated to the above, I am throwing out a question which perplexes me re people like Barak
Obama, Halle Berry, Alicia Keyes - and all the other people who had both a white and black
parent. Why do they call themselves African American? Aren't they Bi-Racial Americans? On
a TV spot it was very nice seeing Barak with his white grandparents who raised him. Halle
Berry was raised in Cleveland by her white mother. Calling themselves African American
doesn't seem accurate. Does it?