Addition of irrelevant earmarks is irresponsible

By Steven Schnarr

After realizing the first rejected bailout bill would inevitably pass, on Oct. 3, Congress added more than $150 billion worth of pork by doing what they always

do-supporting special interest groups.

There is a fundamental problem with the House shooting down a monumental bill and then taking advantage of the crisis by increasing the bill to 451 pages full of earmarks and passing it. Only 110 pages are dedicated to the bailout.

Rather than adding terms to the bill that would increase revenue or decrease spending, the earmarks focused on adding programs and cutting revenue. There were only a few provisions relevant to the bill such as increased FDIC insurance on bank deposits from $100,000 to $250,000. But even this provision has nothing to do with paying off the debt.

This is essentially declaring that what is important to these senators and representatives is not the massive amount of government spending and not pushing a bill that they might see as imperative to “fix” the economic downturn-they are worried about getting re-elected.

They gave a $100 million tax break to race track owners. They supported the American Samoa Development Credit, whose main beneficiary is in Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s district, according to an article written by Rep. Virginia Brown-Waite (R-Fla.). Senators from Oregon even proposed an exemption for something as small as cutting a 39-cent manufacturer tax from wooden arrow shafts, which would benefit one archery company based in Oregon, amounting to a $2 million tax break, according to Taxpayers for Common Sense, a nonpartisan watchdog group. Most of the 341 remaining pages of the bill consist of provisions just as irrelevant as those.

They haphazardly take out $10 trillion in loans-the amount of national debt at this point-and expect the next generation will be able to take care of the debt. One reason this debt has grown so large is because of the earmark spending that is so commonplace in Congress.

It may be an inaccurate analogy to divvy the national debt among each United States citizen, but these lofty numbers of $10 trillion and $850 billion are actual dollar amounts, and it is easier to understand if we look at it on a personal level.

For example, examine this scenario about a college student. By dividing the debts by the United States population of about 305 million, the debts are scaled down to an individual level.

A college student contemplates taking out a loan for $2,290 (one citizen’s share of $700 billion) to partially cover one semester of tuition. This student is not willing to take out the loan unless he or she can get $490 more (the citizen’s share of $150 billion of earmarks) to buy a new Coach handbag or a new XBOX 360 complete with accessories. Rather than asking for the assurance of a good education, or the opportunity for job placement, he or she is concerned with the pork-the bonuses he or she could get with the loan.

What makes or breaks this college student’s decision to take out a $2,780 (the citizen’s share of both the bill and earmarks) loan are the perks that could go along with it-not whether or not he or she can repay that debt. But the catch is that the student has no graduation date in sight and already has $31,000 of unsubsidized debt. The totaled debt of each citizen amounts to about $33,800.

Congress has taken out a loan and forced the taxpayers’ signature. $150 million may be something the United States can handle, but when it is for special interest, there is no justification. When there is $10 trillion in debt, it is sickening.

Some say these companies will bounce back and repay the government, but this is just as reliable as a college student’s possibility of getting hired at a well paying job straight out of college.

Yes, it is possible, but it is also incredibly irresponsible.

Why are we lending money to these irresponsible banks-the ones that caused the problem in the first place? What if the country falls into an even deeper recession than expected?

I hope this bailout actually works, but if it doesn’t, the country will be in a far worse situation than if we were in the first place.