Many news outlets are reporting that President Obama's proposed $60.4 billion federal aid bill for Hurricane Sandy victims is packed with pork. I contacted my White House insider, Deep Mole, to get some answers.
Purcell: Isn't this another example of reckless politicians exploiting an emergency to fund pet projects and pork?
Deep Mole: Pet projects? Pork? There is no pork in the president's proposal.
Purcell: You're nuts. As this bill worked its way through the Senate before Christmas, Democrats slipped in all kinds of non-emergency goodies. Then they offered more goodies to Republicans to win their support.
Deep Mole: Goodies?
Purcell: Why does the bill include $2 million to repair roof damage at Smithsonian buildings in Washington, D.C.?
Deep Mole: The Smithsonian is a national treasure that Sandy victims may one day visit. We must make sure they are not traumatized by leaky museum roofs!
Purcell: Nice try, my friend. Why does the emergency bill include $336 million for Amtrak-related expenses?
Deep Mole: Amtrak is a common mode of transportation for New York residents to travel to Washington and go to the Smithsonian. We must make sure Sandy victims are not traumatized by broken-down trains.
Purcell: You are clever. Then explain why the emergency bill includes $8 million to buy new cars for federal agencies.
Deep Mole: Many federal agencies are assisting Sandy victims. They need new cars from government-owned General Motors to drive to the areas where government services are most needed.
Purcell: You're good. Then explain why the bill includes $150 million for fisheries in Mississippi and Alaska.
Deep Mole: Hurricane victims are known to work very hard cleaning up their messy homes and burning excess calories. It is essential they have access to high-protein American fish!
Purcell: Then explain how $4 million for repairs at the Kennedy Space Center has anything to do with a hurricane in the Northeast.
Deep Mole: The John F. Kennedy Space Center has launched many historic flights into space, bringing inspiration and hope to millions of Americans. Aren't inspiration and hope what Sandy victims need most?
Purcell: Not bad, my friend, but this waste is yet another example of our politicians "not letting a good crisis go to waste." Our country has almost $16.3 trillion in debt. We are accumulating additional debt at the rate of $150 million an hour -- yet the gravy train keeps rolling. Our political leaders are out of control.
Deep Mole: They are?
Purcell: Yes, the Taxpayers for Common Sense explain that the federal government has established a clear definition of what an "emergency" is to determine which incidents or events are worthy of federal relief. Emergency spending should only support something that is necessary, sudden, urgent, unforeseen and not permanent. Those are the rules.
Deep Mole: Rules? The Senate has not passed a budget in more than three years. There are no longer any rules. In our republic the only thing that can stop out-of-control politicians from spending recklessly are the voters -- and a majority of them no longer care about what we waste money on, so long as they get their cut.
Purcell: Well, if the pork-laden version of the Sandy bill passes the Senate, the only hope is that the Republican House will do its job and strip out the waste. It is called checks and balances.
Deep Mole: So naive. If Republicans in the House do anything to hold up the bill, the president will tar them for withholding assistance to the victims of Sandy and the media will saturate the airwaves with images of the obliteration Sandy caused. Dumb Republicans can't win for losing.
Tom Purcell, author of "Comical Sense: A Lone Humorist Takes on a World Gone Nutty!" and "Misadventures of a 1970's Childhood," is a Pittsburgh Tribune-Review humor columnist.