Friday, April 29, 2005

Mmmm-mmmm. You Can Almost Smell the Pork A-Cookin' in them Books.

Congress has passed a $2.6 trillion budget. That'll leave Uncle Sam with a $383 billion dollar deficit to add to the National Debt. The vote was close, 52-47 in the Senate, 214-211 in the House. The spending plan calls for cutting back Medicaid for the first time since 1997.

House Majority Leader Tom DeLay (R-TX) says Medicaid needed cutting because it's "rife with waste."

Some bills get Rep DeLay's scrutiny, others don't. Especially if the money will be spent in Rep DeLay's back yard. Back in January, Rep DeLay prevented the House from looking for any waste in NASA's budget request. He got NASA's full budget request delivered without a separate vote or debate. NASA's Johnson Space Center just happens to be in Rep DeLay's district.

Back in November, USA Today reported Rep DeLay was OK with $15.8 billion in extras slipped into a $388 billion spending plan:

"I'm very proud of the fact that we held the line and made Congress make choices and set priorities, because it follows our philosophy," House Majority Leader Tom DeLay, R-Texas, said.

A look at the fine print in the legislation, however, reveals more than 11,000 earmarks" that add up to about $15.8 billion, or about 4% of the overall spending. Earmarks are money set aside for special projects. These include $300,000 for a parking garage in Auburn, Maine, $8 million to rehabilitate a "historic cafeteria building" in Oregon's Crater Lake National Park and $1.1 million for research into the development of baby food and other products made from salmon.

No word yet from the usual watchdogs on what kind of pork's likely to be hidden in this budget. But it cuts Medicaid to get the deficit under control by 2010. At the same time, it includes $106 billion in tax cuts over the next five years -- $70 billion of which are protected against a Senate filibuster. (Globe & Mail, Washington Post)

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