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Where have all our taxes gone?

Observer Viewpoint | Tuesday, September 6, 2005

As the Web site of Sen. Evan Bayh (D-Ind.) proudly proclaims: “Senator Evan Bayh today announced Senate passage of the Department of Defense Appropriations Act, which includes $3 million that he fought for to bring Purdue’s Center for Advanced Manufacturing (CFAM) one step closer to becoming a reality.”

What a true American hero! Sen. Bayh has fought long and hard to get money for the CFAM, and finally succeeded when he cornered off $3 million … of a defense bill?

2005 has been a great year for Congress. For the fiscal year, there have been over 13,900 pork barrel projects crammed into 13 appropriations bills. According to the organization Citizens Against Government Waste, this is an increase of 31 percent over last year’s total. For the uninformed, pork barrel projects are projects funded by federal money that are intended to benefit the constituents of a particular politician, in return for votes or campaign contributions.

The 2005 Homeland Security Appropriations Act alone contained 64 major pork projects, totaling $1.7 billion. The Emergency Supplemental Appropriations Act for Defense, the Global War on Terror, and Tsunami Relief (H.R. 1268) passed the Senate Appropriations Committee with $55 million for wastewater treatment in Desoto County, Miss., and $25 million for the Fort Peck Fish Hatchery in Montana.

Maybe I’m just cynical, but how do either of these very expensive projects even remotely relate to “Emergency,” “Defense,” “War on Terror” or “Tsunami Relief”?

2005 saw a Republican president and a Republican-controlled Congress, which means that none of these pork projects could have passed without the seal of approval of both. This is a very disturbing fact.

My father always assured me that the Republican Party was the party of smaller government. However, after a record-breaking $427 billion deficit in 2005, it is impossible for me to understand how anyone can believe this lie any longer. In fact, nowhere in the Grand Old Party’s 2004 platform is there any mention of limiting the growth of government. It is quite the opposite.

By the year 2004, actual yearly growth in non-military spending (which means we’re ignoring the costs of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan) had risen 6.2 percent. Adjusting for inflation, George W. Bush’s government has increased spending at twice the rate of Bill Clinton’s.

Yes. Bill Clinton.

The Republican Party is no longer the party of limited or small government and will never be that party again. It is now the executive arm of the Project for the New American Century (founded by Donald Rumsfeld), which believes that American military dominance of the world will eventually lead to an ill-defined global Pax Americana. The neoconservatives that now control the GOP are proponents of the welfare-warfare state at its worst.

To be clear, I am not a fan of “paleoconservatism,” nor am I extolling the non-virtues of the Left. I simply recognize that there is an overwhelming “conservative” presence on this campus, and I believe it is ill-informed.

The neoconservative movement began within the ranks of pro-war socialists in the 1940s. Strongly influenced by the New Deal (as well as anti-Stalinism), many became disillusioned with the “New Left” of the 1960s because of its anti-Vietnam War, seemingly unpatriotic positions. Toss in some admiration for militarism and the “big stick” foreign policy of Theodore Roosevelt, and you have the recipe for such individuals as Paul Wolfowitz, Dick Cheney, Richard Perle, William Bennett (all members of the PNAC) and, of course, President George W. Bush. All of these individuals are prominent members of either the GOP or the Bush administration.

Now I’m going to ask every Republican reading this article to put his/her money where his/her mouth is. Are you in favor of constitutionalism, free trade, limited government and liberty? If so, then you are in the wrong party.

At the time of the writing of this column, the national debt clock reads $7,939,664,349,738.56, which is an almost inconceivable amount of money. By the time this article is printed, however, it will have risen by millions of dollars. American taxpayers can ill-afford the hefty bills of Republican and Democratic politicians, who continually overstep the boundaries that are set forth in the US Constitution. There is absolutely no reason that Federal money should be spent on the Greater Syracuse Sports Hall of Fame. Federal money should not be thrown at Pennsylvania’s Inner Harmony Foundation and Wellness Center, nor should it be wasted on a Therapeutic Horseback Riding Program at Lady B. Ranch in Apple Valley, Calif.

None of these programs is necessary, and the cost of these projects is steep. Someone must stand up to the bureaucrats in Washington, who obviously have complete disregard for the proper role of government.

The Republicans will not do it. The Democrats will not do it. Who will?

Scott Wagner is the president of the brand new College Libertarians Club and writes political satire for the Web site The Enduring Vision. He can be contacted at swagner1@nd.edu.

The views expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.