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Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Hastert, Delay Resistance to Porkbusters/Operation Offset Proposals Shows They're Out of Touch

The Heritage Foundation's Alison Fraser and Michelle Muccio have an excellent summary of the state of play in Congress on the Porkbusters concept of taking back pork to pay for hurricane recovery efforts. Their analysis makes clear the leadership of the House is out of step with key figures in the conservative majority in the lower chamber.

Fraser and Muccio focus on the work of Rep. Mike Pence, R-IN and Chairman of the Republican Study Committee's, and Rep. Jeb Hensarling, R-TX., to get action in the House of Representatives on "Operation Offset." Pence, by the way, is one of a handful of House Members with a blog and is a former Talk Radio journalist.

Operation Offset is a menu of spending cuts recommended by RSC members totalling more than enough to pay the estimated $200 billion in hurricane recovery spending expected to be approved by Congress in coming weeks. The 110-member RSC is the largest of the officially recognized common-interest caucuses in the House and has long been the legislative home of conservative activists in the legislature.

Despite the strong support shown by the public for the Porkbusters/Operation Offset approach, House Speaker Dennis Hastert, R-IL, and House Majority Leader Tom Delay, R-Tx, appear to be doing everything possible to avoid moving in that direction. In fact, Hastert and Delay have given Pence the proverbial trip to the woodshed as a reward for his efforts.

Note Fraser and Muccio:

"Pence and the RSC should be commended for their bold leadership on fiscal restraint and sacrifice. Conversely, Rep. DeLay appears to have changed his mind about offsetting this new spending and has yet to embrace any aspect of the RSC plan.
"Worse, according to reports, he and House Speaker Dennis Hastert have taken Pence to task merely for launching Operation Offset[3]. One must wonder if it is acceptable to set a loose goal of spending tradeoffs, but not to get down to brass tacks and discuss specific programs to cut."

Fraser and Muccio also praise senators John McCain, R-AZ, and Tom Coburn, R-OK, for their efforts to insure hurricane recovery spending does not become a blank check guaranteed to produce monumental waste and fraud of tax dollars.