Sunday, November 21

388 Billion Dollar Bill, At least Dubby gets his Yacht Back.

Looks like the government will have it's cash money to get things done now that the Omnibus Spending bill made it out of both houses. Now on the way to the passage, the bill was exposed for it's backdoor attack on Roe, then later a "staffer" allegedly "accidentally" but not on purposely, a little clause that gave people who should never have the privildge, the opportunity to go through anybody's Tax returns. Ill let JMM tell it like it is.
And at the last minute, Republican leaders tried to slip in a provision that would give certain committee chairman and their staffers unlimited access to any American's tax return, with none of the standard privacy protections applying.

You heard that right.

They could pull anyone's tax return, read it over and do whatever they wanted with the information. Those who would have this power would be the chairs and ranking members of the senate and house appropriations committees and subcommittees and "their designees."
The Republicans are acting like it was all an innocent mistake. And it seems clear that there are Republican senators who didn't know anytihng about it and are pissed. But clearly this was no accident, unless provisions have started to write themselves.
Thats the funny thing about legislation, after 200 odd years of glorius history, maybe bills have gained the power reequired to write themselves, or maybe not, I've just got the keep an open mind. One of the "good things" about this is that we actually know about it, and that at least this time the bastards got caught. Heres a CNN piece on the now embarresed, or Red faced Republicans. It seems that it might have cleared the house.
Saturday, November 20, 2004 Posted: 10:26 PM EST (0326 GMT)
WASHINGTON (AP) -- Congress passed legislation Saturday giving two committee chairman and their assistants access to income tax returns without regard to privacy protections, but not before red-faced Republicans said the measure was a mistake and would be swiftly repealed.

The Senate unanimously adopted a resolution immediately after passing a 3,300-word spending bill containing the measure, saying the provision "shall have no effect." House leaders promised to pass the resolution next Wednesday.
Well thats good, pass the bill without modification, but not to worry it will be modified before being signed into law, as long as there is not some "clause" buried within the senate rules that allow us to change our minds. Unfortunately not only did this failed attempt to slip one past the goalie cause the Republicans some embarrasment (and you thought they had no shame) but also kind of rained on the parade they were planning.
The provision and the inability of Hastert, R-Illinois., to get the votes he wanted on an intelligence overhaul bill left Republican leaders chagrinned on a day they had intended to be a celebration of their accomplishments.
Too Fucking bad Denny boy. Meanwhile some are not so sanguine in their belief that promises will make everything hunky dory.
Questioned sharply by fellow Republicans as well as Democrats, Stevens pleaded with the Senate to approve the overall spending bill despite the tax returns language.

But Sen. Kent Conrad, D-North Dakota, said that wasn't good enough. "It becomes the law of the land on the signature of the president of the United States. That's wrong."

Conrad said the measure's presence in the spending bill was symptomatic of a broader problem -- Congress writing legislation hundreds of pages long and then giving lawmakers only a few hours to review it before having to vote on it.
Some Democrats didn't accept the assertion that the provision was a mistake and demanded an investigation.

"We weren't born yesterday, we didn't come down with the first snow," said Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-California. "This isn't poorly thought out, this was very deliberately thought out and it was done in the dead of night."
I might add that Feinsteins language passes the "No shit Sherlock" test. Mistake my ass. but this isn't the end of Story. The Bill also provided a couple million to re-purchess the old Presidential Yacht, among other important matters.
President Bush was expected to sign the bill. Although it curbed a number of White House initiatives, it fulfilled Bush's goal of clamping down on nondefense spending in the face of a record deficit and mounting costs for U.S. military operations in Iraq.
Clamping down on nondefense spending in the face of record deficits caused by massive tax cuts for people likely to die horrible deaths without the money, Can you say good bye Social Safety Net, and Hello, to we exercise Ownership over your ass Society". Oh and Pell Grants have also been subject to "reduction"
Some lawmakers said the bill didn't go far enough to cut spending.

The bill, for example, provides up to $2 million to buy a former presidential yacht for a Navy museum and $250,000 for the Country Music Hall of Fame in Nashville.

The bill will fund much of the federal government for the 2005 fiscal year that began Oct. 1. It takes the place of nine separate bills that Congress normally passes to fund departments, such as Education, Labor, Interior, Commerce, Justice, State, and Health and Human Services, as well as dozens of other federal agencies.

Critics of the 1,000-page bill said it was unlikely that lawmakers read it before voting.

"There are things in here that almost nobody knows about," said Sen. Kent Conrad (D-N.D.).
And its good for America, when her leaders have nary a clue as to the contents of bills they will be voting on. Very good indeed. Maybe we need to breed a race of superspeed-reading geniuii to read and process the bills for our representative, we might have the technology, After all shortly after the success of the Apollo program we did succed in the creation of a Bionic man, can speed-reading geniuii be far behind?