Saturday, July 21, 2007

An Outrage in Congress

Today I received my daily update from Saul Anuzis, chairman of the Michigan Republican Party. I would encourage those of you reading this who live in Michigan to sign up for his daily e-mail, or if you prefer, go to regularly to read his blog entries. Today's e-mail contained this outrageous example of Congressional waste [Note: I have edited a couple typos from the original]:

Charlie Rangel…an example of the arrogance of power and Bart Stupak voted with him…taxpayers, are you paying attention?

OpinionJournal reports: New York's Charlie Rangel provoked smirks this week when news emerged that the Harlem Congressman was humbly seeking a $2 million earmark to create a "Charles B. Rangel Center for Public Service" at the City College of New York.

Titters turned to dropped jaws yesterday when a 20-page glossy brochure popped up, describing the yet-to-be-created center. That flyer, which asks for donations, explains that organizers need a mere $4.7 million to restore a "magnificent Harlem limestone townhouse" that will house the center, plus another $2.3 million endowment for its operating costs.

What, overtaxed taxpayers might ask, would all this money buy? One dollop would go to provide "a well-furnished office for Congressman Rangel" and another dollop would fund "the Rangel Library," which will be "designed to hold the product of 50 years of public service by the major African-American statesman of the 20th and early 21st centuries."

According to the brochure, the library not only would tell "the story of one great man....The Rangel archivist/librarian will organize, index, and preserve for posterity all documents, photographs, and memorabilia relating to Congressman Rangel's career."

Oh yes, and the center would also offer students a master's program in public service.

Most Americans might find this taxpayer-funded monument to one member's ego a poor use of public money, but not many of Mr. Rangel's logrolling House colleagues do. Yesterday, Republican Study Committee Member John Campbell brought an amendment to the House floor that would have stripped Mr. Rangel's homage to himself. He was defeated 316-108. Only one Democrat voted to kill the earmark.

On another pork barrel project…in a classic demonstration of members protecting each other when it comes to local pork, Mr. Flake's amendment to strike the possibly non-existent center's grant failed. He won support from only 98 members, while 326 members whooped the expenditure through.

At this rate, Mr. Flake has a good case that the entire earmark process is a bipartisan hive of corruption. The difference between his efforts against earmarks last year and this year, sadly, is that now with Democrats in charge, his anti-pork crusade has a much harder time getting media attention.


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