Thursday, March 12, 2009

Omnibus Blogging

This week President Obama signed the omnibus budget bill which will fund government operations for the rest of the fiscal year.  The bill included some 9,000 earmarks, and there was usual crying about "wasteful spending."

It should be noted that earmarks are not by definition wasteful.  All earmarks do is direct federal spending towards towards  specific project.  Without a specific earmark, the money would be spent anyway but it would be spent at the discretion of an executive branch agency.  Members of Congress use earmarks to fund projects that are important to their constituents and these projects are often locally useful but have no other means of funding.

Senator John McCain(R-AZ) can always be counted on to do a lot of crying when it comes to wasteful spending and earmarks.  One of his targets was an earmark inserted by Sen. Tom Harkin(D-IA) appropriating 1.7 million dollar for efforts to control the odor created by hog farming.  Senator McCain called the earmark one of the 10 pokiest earmarks in the omnibus bill.

As someone who lives in Iowa , and near a few hog farms, I can tell you this is a needed project.  Iowa is the nation's largest pork producing state and the 20 million hogs in the state creates a lot of manure and odor.  It is a public health issue and a quality of life issue of the greatest importance.  In state based around agriculture as much as Iowa is it is important to find a way to control farm waste so that people can be healthy and enjoy a high quality of life.

Senator McCain is not known for his intellectual depth or his desire to have a greater understanding of issues he knows little about.  He finished near the bottom of his Naval Academy class, and his presidential campaign was proof that his claim not to know much about economics was true.  

One day perhaps there will be a hole the size of the gap between what Senator McCain talks about and what he actually knows that we can use to dispose of hog waste.  Until that day we will just have to relay on government funding to address the issue.

No comments:

Post a Comment