Monday, November 22, 2004

I wish I were surprised...

...but no, it really isn't surprising at all that most of our Congresspeople didn't read, cover to cover, a 1,000 page bill rushed through in the closing days of a lame-duck Congress. Nor is it unusual. The vast majority of bills are read only by assistants and interns: Our Elected Officials get summaries prepared by their staffs. (Staves?) At this point, maybe the interns aren't reading them either.

Nor is it unusual, sadly, that "a provision allowing the chairmen of the House and Senate appropriations committees, or their agents, to examine the tax returns of any American" found its way into an "omnibus spending" bill. At least it's about appropriations: Most tack-on provisions have much less to do with the subject of the core bill. But this is such a monumentally bad idea that you have to wonder if it wasn't put there with the intent of derailing the omnibus bill.

The root problem here is that they're trying to do too much. If they were to restrict themselves to their Constitutionally-defined responsibilities, they could've been home for the holidays by now, and we'd all be better off.

And the finger-pointing begins. Sigh. Did you know that both of those committee chairmen who'll get to see your tax returns happen to be Republicans? (Well, they are the majority party, it's not unusual that they have a few plum committee chairmanships.) Look at the CNN quotes, beginning and ending with a defensive Frist ("Accountability will be carried out"? Doesn't sound too forceful, does it?) with a cream-filling of indignant Democrats (and McCain, an honorary Democrat) trying to sound resolute, trying not to admit they didn't read the bill either. And since it so obviously is a naked Republican power grab, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-San Francisco) plans to nakedly grab right back (although I'm not proud of that mental picture).
[Democratic Sen. Charles] Schumer said Pelosi told him she planned to hold up consideration of the bill in the House "until we find out who put this provision in."
Boy, if some Democrat staffer stuck it in there knowing it would reflect poorly on the Senate and House majority leaders and appropriations committee chairmen (Republicans all), well, that's just gonna suck, innit? Of course, I'm not saying a Republican might not have done it, just that it's a little premature to assume so.

Anyway, better hurry, Ms P: The interim resolution that postponed a government shutdown expires on December 3.

Which leads me to the part that really grabbed my eye:

A military plane flew that resolution to Chile, where Bush was attending the APEC summit, so the president could sign it to avoid any disruption of government.
How have we reached the point where assigning a military plane to fly a few pieces of paper to Chile (and, presumably, back) doesn't sound outrageous?

LATER: So, it was a Republican. But he didn't mean it. Right. But if the wording in the bill isn't the wording he wrote, then who writes these things? Even the best possible interpretation doesn't make me feel any better.

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