How to Remove the Pork from the Fiscal Cliff Bill

| January 5 2013
David Leeper

The Fiscal Cliff Bill, officially the “Family and Business Tax Cut Certainty Act of 2012,” prevented an income-tax rate increase for 98% of Americans.  That’s the good part.  The bad part is that it was passed at the 11th hour, and it was loaded with pork for rum producers, electric scooter riders, Hollywood, motorsport race track owners, and algae growers.

According to Tim Carney of the Washington Examiner, the pork is in part the handiwork of lobbyists and former Sens. John Breaux, D-LA, and Trent Lott, R-Miss. These good ol’ boys were hired by their clients, including GE and Citigroup, to insert pork in the HR8 bill last summer. (HR8 is the precursor to the Fiscal Cliff Bill.) According to Carney, several other less-well-known lobbyists also lined up to stick their clients’ snouts in the feeding trough.

In the past few days, Congressmen and pundits all across the political spectrum have been wringing their hands about those awful pork provisions, wailing that our beleaguered Congress had no choice because there was no time to draft another bill without the pork, so the pork had to be passed too.

To that “explanation” and to the pork itself, we should all shout baloney!  This lunacy is eminently reversible.

Draft another bill, call it the First Pork Reduction Act of 2013, that vacates each and every pork provision in the Fiscal Cliff bill. Then let’s see who in the House, Senate, or White House dares to vote against pork removal. If any of them were to do so, we’d know for the next election exactly where they stand on pork.

Sheesh.

If Congress would begin attacking pork with specific, ad hoc legislation that calls it out and cancels it, the publicity for the pork’s sponsor(s) would be hugely and appropriately embarrassing.  Maybe then Congressmen would be less inclined to put pork in these bills to begin with, and lobbyists would have to find another way to make a living. And wouldn’t that be nice?

Come on Congress, do your job.  You’re supposed to be looking out for us and our dollars.  Attack the pork directly with the tools you have, and quit squealing like a stuck pig about how you’re all victims of “the process”.

7 comments
dmckinleyp
dmckinleyp

Sadly, the media-propagated atmosphere of fiscal crisis drove any mention of this pork out of the news. Now the bill is done, people want to wash their hands and move on to the next battle, not revisit the last one. The only way we can elminate is with a new, full-scale assault on pork in general. Can that happen in that sick, dysfunctional city, Washington?

Econ101
Econ101

I'd like to see conservatives elected in 2010 or 2012 (and no others) caucus over this pork issue, investigating specific cases of pork and offering up the evidence on social media & internet blogs.  

The exposure would serve as a deterrent to future pork.  Republican-generated pork must be included as well as Democrat pork.  In fact, I'd come down twice as hard on Republicans as Democrats.

No other legislators could serve in this caucus because if they've been there long enough to push pork into our legislation, they almost surely have done it themselves.

dleeper47
dleeper47 moderator

 @dmckinleyp Thanks for the comment, dmckinleyp.  Can't we do both?  The 112th Congress tried to change the rules to permit only 'single-issue legislation', and that failed. Maybe they'll try again.  But they only set the rules once every two years (nominally).  They could begin passing focused anti-pork legislation at any time.   After a few instances of pork are exposed and killed publically, Congressmen will be reluctant to use it.  Then the rules change could occur much more easily in the next Congress, no?

dleeper47
dleeper47 moderator

 @Econ101 Thanks for the comment, Econ101.  I understand why you recommend only freshman or sophomore legislators for your proposed caucus.  But  I think there are a few budget hawks among longer-serving members of both parties, and they too should be welcomed. The “pork investigation caucus” should be about pork — not party.  Agreed?

Econ101
Econ101

To be clear, that caucus would be for conservatives FIRST elected to congress in 2010 or 2012.  The old bulls of the GOP or Dems would not be welcomed.

dleeper47
dleeper47 moderator

 @dmckinleyp I would add to my comment above (and to the article itself) that it will be difficult to ever get an a focused anti-pork bill out of "Committee". Powerful old bulls from both parties will call in favors and do anything they can to preserve their pork machinery and make good on promises to their campaign contributors.  But the bill itself will be a matter of public record, and as citizens we can clamor for the bill's approval, exposing the "porkers" in the process.  Somehow, as citizens, we have to put some back-pressure on these people and this process.  They're stealing from us and destroying the future for our children & grandchildren, let alone our own future.If Congress cannot heal itself, we need to do what we can as citizens.  We might start with just the GE and Citigroup pork in the fiscal cliff bill because it is so visible.  This looks like pure crony capitalism.  This specific case could be one where both "Tea Party" and "Occupy" types could be in agreement.  A full "pork forensics" investigation into the Breaux/Lott pork provision could be very effective.  And I'd love to hear Breaux and Lott explain what they did to the American people.  Right now, they're getting away with it -- and their lobbyist paychecks.  Why?