Before the Senate resoundingly defeated a McCain amendment on Tuesday that would have shorn 9,000 earmarks worth $7.7 billion from the $410 billion spending bill, the Arizona senator twittered lists of offensive bipartisan pork, including:
• $2.1 million for the Center for Grape Genetics in New York. “quick peel me a grape,” McCain twittered.
• $1.7 million for a honey bee factory in Weslaco, Tex.
• $1.7 million for pig odor research in Iowa.
• $1 million for Mormon cricket control in Utah. “Is that the species of cricket or a game played by the brits?” McCain tweeted.
• $819,000 for catfish genetics research in Alabama.
• $650,000 for beaver management in North Carolina and Mississippi.
• $951,500 for Sustainable Las Vegas. (McCain, a devotee of Vegas and gambling, must really be against earmarks if he doesn’t want to “sustain” Vegas.)
• $2 million “for the promotion of astronomy” in Hawaii, as McCain twittered, “because nothing says new jobs for average Americans like investing in astronomy.”
• $167,000 for the Autry National Center for the American West in Los Angeles. “Hopefully for a Back in the Saddle Again exhibit,” McCain tweeted sarcastically.
• $238,000 for the Polynesian Voyaging Society in Hawaii. “During these tough economic times with Americans out of work,” McCain twittered.
• $200,000 for a tattoo removal violence outreach program to help gang members or others shed visible signs of their past. “REALLY?” McCain twittered.
• $209,000 to improve blueberry production and efficiency in Georgia.
“When do we turn off the spigots?” Senator McCain said in his cri de coeur on the Senate floor. “Haven’t we learned anything? Bills like this jeopardize our future.”
In one of his disturbing spells of passivity, President Obama decided not to fight Congress and live up to his own no-earmark pledge from the campaign.
He’s been lecturing us on the need to prune away frills while the economy fizzles. He was slated to make a speech on “wasteful spending” on Wednesday.
“You know, there are times where you can afford to redecorate your house and there are times where you need to focus on rebuilding its foundation,” he said recently about the “hard choices” we must make. Yet he did not ask Congress to sacrifice and make hard choices; he let it do a lot of frivolous redecorating in its budget.
He reckons he’ll need Congress for more ambitious projects, like health care, and when he goes back to wheedle more bailout billions, given that A.I.G. and G.M. and our other corporate protectorates are burning through our money faster than we can print it and borrow it from the ever-more-alarmed Chinese.
Team Obama sounds hollow, chanting that “the status quo is not acceptable,” even while conceding that the president is accepting the status quo by signing a budget festooned with pork.
Obama spinners insist it was “a leftover budget.” But Iraq was leftover, too, and the president’s trying to end that. This is the first pork-filled budget from a new president who promised to go through the budget “line by line” and cut pork.
On “Face the Nation” on Sunday, Obama’s chief of staff, Rahm Emanuel, dismissed the bill as “last year’s business,” because most of it was written last year.
But given how angry Americans are, watching their future go up in smoke, the bloated bill counts as this year’s business.
It includes $38.4 million of earmarks sponsored or co-sponsored by President Obama’s labor secretary, Hilda Solis; $109 million Hillary Clinton signed on to; and $31.2 million in earmarks sought by Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood with colleagues.
(Even Barack Obama was listed as one of the co-sponsors of a $7.7 million pet project for Tribally Controlled Postsecondary Vocational Institutions until he got his name taken off last week.)
And then there are the 16 earmarks worth $8.5 million that Emanuel put into the bill when he was a congressman, including money for streets in Chicago suburbs and a Chicago planetarium.
Bonus: You can follow John McCain on twitter at: @senjohnmccain And he's a pretty good twitterer!