Reason.tv: Pork Party House: Where DC insiders go for tax-subsidized fun!

First Rep. Charlie Rangel (D-N.Y.) surrenders his chairmanship of the Ways and Means Committee amid an ethics investigation. Now Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) proposes an idea that she hopes will help her make good on her promise to help lead "the most ethical Congress in history"—a party-wide ban on earmarks. Will it happen? Don't bet on it. Reason.tv's "Pork Party House" helps explain why neither party can resist the pull of pork.

If you're a politician, lobbyist, or insider and you're in the mood to party, check out a Washington D.C. mansion called the Sewall-Belmont House. Party with senators and celebrities at thousand-dollar-a-plate fundraisers! You might even get to ride a mechanical bull! The Sewall-Belmont House hosts so many A-list events, you might be surprised to find out that your tax dollars help fund this hotspot for Washington insiders. "Over the last 10 years, the Sewall-Belmont House has gotten over $3.4 million in earmarks," says Leslie Paige of Citizens Against Government Waste.

Reporters often highlight the most ridiculous examples, but politicians have learned how to make their pork projects sound uncontroversial, even appealing. Just say your project will help children, senior citizens, or—if you really want to slip under the radar—direct taxpayer dough to a museum.

"Museums are one of the biggies because they sound so good," says Paige. Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-La.) used that angle to direct a million-dollar earmark to the Sewall-Belmont House (after the Senator received an award from the Sewall-Belmont House). Turns out Landrieu was just getting warmed up, because her recent $300 million "Louisiana Purchase" shot her into the ranks of pork legends.

It wasn't supposed to be like this, laments Rep. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.), one of Congress's few legitimate pork busters. Flake tells Reason.tv that despite pork-laden scandals that stuck some members behind bars—remember Rep. Randy "Duke" Cunningham (R-Calif.)?—and promises from Barack Obama to reform earmarks, spending on pork continues to swell in the giant pork party house called the U.S. Congress.

"Pork Party House" is written and produced by Ted Balaker. Producer: Hawk Jensen; Host: Nick Gillespie; Field Producer: Dan Hayes; Associate Producer: Paul Detrick; Additional Camera: Meredith Bragg; Production Assistant: Josh Swain; Music: "Get What You Want?" by Beight (Magnatune Records).

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  • ed||

    I'm building a guillotine. Can I get an earmark for that?

  • ||

    I'm sure the guillotine will provide all the marks on your ears you'll need.

  • Chris||

    If the guillotine is leaving marks on your ears you are doing it wrong.

  • adam||

    What is the definition of earmark? I've been involved in the appropriations process for a while, and I certainly can't give you a particularly good definition, so I'm interested in what people mean when they say it.

  • ed||

    Mother's milk. Golden eggs. Happy endings.

  • Barack Obama||

    Let me be clear.

    I pledged to the American People that I would go line by line through our budgetary legislation to ensure all expenditures are wise ones.

    I have; and they are.

  • ||

    I'm building a guillotine. Can I get an earmark for that?

    That depends. Are your "technicians" members of a union? Will you be using materials manufactured in the U S of A? Are you now, or have you ever been, a member of the Democratic Party, and, if so, have you contributed at least ten per cent of your after tax income to the Party? Do have, or do you have access to, a Gulfstream?

  • ed||

    No, yes, no, no, hell no.

  • Alan Vanneman||

    Yes, shockingly, you can rent a national museum for a night and hold a party there--like the National Building Museum or the National Portrait Gallery/Patent Office--the third floor, where Lincoln's second inaurgural ball was held. The rent for such proceedings helps lessen the burden for the taxpayer. A lot of tourists seem to like to visit places like the NBM, the NPG, and even the S-B House.

  • slutmonkey||

    What's implied in the video/article is that the rent charged for parties/fundraisers etc. does not cover the costs, so the remainder is placed on the tax payers.

    However even if renting the place out is balancesheet positive, why are taxpayers liable for ANY part of this place's operations to start with? If a museum is actually valuable to the public, it will be able to pay for itself with admissions/gift shop/confection receipts and voluntary donations (as opposed to forced 'donations' through taxes).

  • ||

    Alton Brown made some praline bacon last night on Good Eats. Praline bacon! Whoa.

    If Congress produced praline bacon rather than rancid pork, my opinion of it might be very different.

  • jhaptas||

    great piece on pork and that's saying something coming from a vegan!

    gotta love Jeff Flake's courage and persistence.

  • lukas||

    Hmm, bacon... what, earmarks?

  • ||

    truth,,,,obama people have no idea of the extent to which they have to be gulled in order to be led."
    "The size of the lie is a definite factor in causing it to be believed, for the vast masses of the nation are in the depths of their hearts more easily deceived than they are consciously and intentionally bad. The primitive simplicity of their minds renders them a more easy prey to a big lie than a small one, for they themselves often tell little lies but would be ashamed to tell a big one."
    "All propaganda must be so popular and on such an intellectual level, that even the most stupid of those towards whom it is directed will understand it. Therefore, the intellectual level of the propaganda must be lower the larger the number of people who are to be influenced by it."
    "Through clever and constant application of propaganda, people can be made to see paradise as hell, and also the other way around, to consider the most wretched sort of life as paradise."pelosi don't see much future for the Americans ... it's a decayed country. And they have their racial problem, and the problem of social inequalities ...obama feelings against Americanism are feelings of hatred and deep repugnance ... everything about the behaviour of American society reveals that it's half Judaised, and the other half negrified. How can one expect a State like that to hold TOGTHER.They include the angry left wing bloggers who spread vicious lies and half-truths about their political adversaries... Those lies are then repeated by the duplicitous left wing media outlets who “discuss” the nonsense on air as if it has merit… The media's justification is apparently “because it's out there”, truth be damned. STOP THIS COMMUNIST OBAMA ,GOD HELP US ALL .THE COMMANDER ((GOD OPEN YOUR EYES)) stop the communist obama & pelosi.((open you eyes)) ,the commander

  • abercrombie milano||

    I love your style!

  • cheap wholesale||

    so perfect

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