Rock Mag Criticizes GOP; Film At 11


Rolling Stone, which was slamming the GOP Congress way before it was cool (unusual because they now tend to get into things after they're cool), is going with a cover story on why the 109th was the worst governing body you schmucks ever elected. Author Matt Taibbi is a little more subdued than usual, although he's more on his game than he was that time he tried to prove election fraud in Ohio and then didn't. And interestingly (though maybe not too surprisingly), he hones in on congressional overspending as one of the most important reasons to give Nancy Pelosi the Speaker's gavel.

What do they spend that money on? In the age of Jack Abramoff, that is an ugly question to even contemplate. But let's take just one bill, the so-called energy bill, a big, hairy, favor-laden bitch of a law that started out as the wet dream of Dick Cheney's energy task force and spent four long years leaving grease-tracks on every set of palms in the Capitol before finally becoming law in 2005.

Favors for campaign contributors, exemptions for polluters, shifting the costs of private projects on to the public—these are the specialties of this Congress. They seldom miss an opportunity to impoverish the states we live in and up the bottom line of their campaign contributors. All this time—while Congress did nothing about Iraq, Katrina, wiretapping, Mark Foley's boy-madness or anything else of import—it has been all about pork, all about political favors, all about budget "earmarks" set aside for expensive and often useless projects in their own districts. In 2000, Congress passed 6,073 earmarks; by 2005, that number had risen to 15,877. They got better at it every year. It's the one thing they're good at.

Ned Lamont, whom we're told is the fourth horseman of anti-war nuttery, has actually seized on overspending and earmarks in his race against Joe Lieberman. It's not hyperbole to say that this particular abandonment of libertarian principles might kill the GOP majority.

RS also has a top 10 list of shitty congressfolk. Nick Gillespie stood athwart George Bush's checkbook yelling "Stop!" in 2005.

NEXT: No Encroachments on the First Amendment

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  1. I liked Taibbi’s work in eXile; oh and, fwiw, he was one of Colbert’s first guests.

  2. Again, will the Dems be any less “spendy”?
    Or will they rub their hands in glee and say, “Our turn now!”?

  3. It doesn’t really matter who’s in power, and we’ve gotten all the proof we need over the last dozen years, watching the Republican Revolution disintegrate into the same old porkfest. Truly, our best hope is gridlock.

  4. ed-

    I’m going to go way out on a limb here, against all the evidence of history, and say the latter.

  5. I agree. Seems that you have “more honesty” (yes I know that’s funny when talking about DC politics) when one party controls one branch of government and the other party controls the other branch. This way they are too busy fighting each other and actually having to compromise on issues in order to get things done.

    When you have one party in control, it all ends up being the same, all they care about is how to further push their own projects and interests and how they can line their pockets even more.

  6. Regardless of what you think about the two parties’ merits on earmarks, fiscal discipline, and spending levels, there can be no doubt that this Democratic House and Senate that could be elected in November would certainly be better on these issues than this Republican House and Senate.

    The Republicans will not reform the Medicare drug program, change the earmarking rules, or do any of the other fiscally responsible things the Democrats are calling for, for political reasons. When have seen the entrenched Republican leadership change course on anything? It’s the cut and run mentality – they’d rather leave these monstrosities in place than waver in the face of their opposition, so they’ll defend them to the death.

  7. Dave:

    While I know the dems will obviously say the latter, it will finally give Bush a compelling reason to find out what undisclosed location the VETO stamp has been hiding in…

  8. I have a cunning plan. If the GOP loses control of the House (or, less likely, the Senate or the House and Senate), let’s loudly proclaim that it happened because we poor libertarians were left out.

    And if the Democrats manage their usual recent practice of self-triage? Same thing.

    Yeah, libertarians are a small group. But so are all the other marginal groups within the parties that seem to be running the rhetoric, at least, these days.

  9. “there can be no doubt that this Democratic House and Senate that could be elected in November would certainly be better ”

    Huh??? No. They won’t be better. Or worse. It’s like saying it’s better to be eaten by a croc than an alligator. No doubt my ass.

  10. joe,

    They won’t be better, they’ll just fight with the GOP. It’s ridiculous in the extreme to pretend that Democrats give a damn about “any of the…fiscally responsible things [they] are calling for.”

  11. Come on, joe, Reason Dogma clearly states that government exists only to take our money and spend it. Therefore, it doesn’t matter who is elected.

  12. This is like being on a runaway train. First the Republican Engineer leans on the throttle, then the Democrat Engineer gets a turn at the throttle, then we get the Republican Engineer back to try and control the runaway train by leaning on the throttle, etc, etc….then the Libertarian brakeman in the caboose yells, “The train is out of control, we need gridlock to slow the train down. Both of you lean on the throttle.”

  13. The problem with assuming that any possible Congress would be just as bad as this one is that most previous Congresses have not been as fiscally irresponsible. As far as spending tax dollars goes, Reason has published figures that show the current Republicans to be the worst bunch since Lyndon B Johnson was president. There have been lots of Congresses between LBJ and GWB – lots of Democratic Congresses too – which were relatively more frugal.

  14. Joe Majsterski,

    ‘They won’t be better…t’s ridiculous in the extreme to pretend that Democrats give a damn about “any of the…fiscally responsible things [they] are calling for.”‘

    I disagree with you on that point. Fiscal responsibility has become one of the core beliefs of the Democratic Party. When they controlled the White House and both houses of Congress, their singular achievement was a set of economic and fiscal policies which were the most fiscally responsible in modern times.

    But putting that point aside, this: “…they’ll just fight with the GOP” is my point. The way the partisan dynamic works right now, the Democrats have every motivation – every political and partisan motivation – to put the brakes on and reverse course on the pork-n-deficits blowout of the last five years.

  15. Fiscal Responsiblity is a campaign slogan, not a core belief of the Democrat Party. Living out here in California, I’ve seen what “Fiscal Responsiblity” means to a Democrat both on a local and state level. It wasn’t until we got a Republican in office and the two had to compromise that we got some fiscal responsiblity.

    If the Democrats believe in Fiscal Responsiblity they would be pushing for a Balanced Budget Amendment. But when it comes to Balanced Budget Amendment… I hear nothing but crickets.

  16. well, maybe they’ll spend a lot of time spitting in each others’ soup and not so much fucking with us and shitting on the constitution.

    ahhh, the embarassment of riches that comes from low expectations.

  17. Democrats getting fiscal discipline and religion about budgets versus Democrats not controlling the Congress during a major economic boom that resulted in unusually high revenues for all governments. Wait, let me figure out which one actually happened. . . . 🙂

  18. Pro-Lib,

    The Democrats controlled both houses of Congress in 1991, when they cut the budget deal with George H.W. Bush, and in 1993, when they unanimously approved the Clinton budget bill. Both of these were before the expansion and the Republican takeover.

    Democrats “got religion” on fiscal discipline after the Reagan deficits. Not only was Clinton a budget hawk, but his closest challenger in the 92 primary, Paul Tsongas, went on to run the Concord Coalition.

    Not to mention, their two subsequent nominees, Gore and Kerry, were both guys who took stands on fiscal discipline that made them unpopular with their party all the way back in the 80s.

  19. An example that I found while at work:

    Republicans: Turn a $30mil corporate welfare giveaway to a $120mil giveaway.

    Democrats: Demand that it be turned into a $240mil giveaway.

    I don’t think Bush will have a problem signing a bill to double the giveaways. But hey… more a chance for me to get a piece of that action.

  20. i stopped paying attention to anything rolling stone had to say after they put al “music censership” gore on their cover just cause he was the democrat running for president. they put dean on before he even got the nomination.

  21. “…shifting the costs of private projects on to the public — these are the specialties of this Congress.”

    This is a specialty of a big government mentality, whatever the party affiliation. For instance, government supporting scientific research, private companies and organiztions are the end beneficeries. What did he think the Dems meant during the Clinton years by “investing in America”?

  22. The problem is when a Democrat says “fiscal responsibility” he means he wants to squeeze a larger percentage of the average taxpayer’s lifeblood out, so he can be free to spend more. It does not mean keeping the costs of government down.

  23. joe, it’s a quibble over how my money is to be spent. Should it be spent by my taxes today or by my taxes ten years from now? I’m no fan of excessive deficit spending, but my whole problem really lies in the spending part, not the method for “paying” for such spending. Yeah, the Republicans suck, especially in their current iteration. But the Democrats are likely to be worse with the same amount of power, because even fewer of their number believe that limited government is even remotely a desirable thing. Even as they sit and observe what evil can be done with a comparatively unlimited government.

  24. Pro Lib,

    Both the 91 and 93 agreements included spending limits as well as deficit limits. The fiscal responsibility of the Democrats is not limited to raising taxes, as some people like to claim.

    And don’t even start with speculating how many Republicans really, really believe in smaller government. Who cares if it’s 80% and 70% of those betray their conscience, or if it’s actually 10%? If they aren’t going to be resposible with both houses of Congress and the White House, when are they? If some kind of principled paring back of the cost of government was going to happen under the Republicans, don’t you think we would have seen from them by now?

  25. My point is, don’t offer the Democrats as an improvement on spending or even on the budget. If they don’t like deficit spending, then they’ll jack my taxes. If the GOP, which at least has some elements that favor smaller government, etc., has gone ape shit, what would the Democrats do if similarly empowered?

    Anyway, as I’ve said before, I want the Democrats to take the House. And if they get the Senate, too, this time or next, more power to them. I’d prefer not to see the legislature and executive under single party rule for a while, though. In fact, I’d like to get rid of the official sanction of these distasteful factions altogether, but I don’t suppose that’s going to happen 🙂

  26. Hahahahaha, Pro-Lib, nice one: “And if they get the Senate, too, this time or next, more power to them.”

    What would be nice isn’t just a Balanced Budget Amendment, or somesuch, but rather some kind of spending cap. Something that ties the federal budget to GDP or something like that would be great.

  27. “This is like being on a runaway train. First the Republican Engineer …”

    So you’re “coming out” as an anarchist now?
    Don’t you feel better?

  28. Pat Buchanan beat Rolling Stone to the punch (criticizing the GOP) by a year. Anytime Pat Buchanan hits on something, it and anything associated with it immediately becomes uncool. The exception, of course, is for those extremely deft at irony. You know the type, those guys who can get away with a mustache even though their not cops or airline pilots. This is not Rolling Stone. Rolling Stone defends lip-sync losers like Ashlee Simpson. While they panned her album, they continue to insist she is a relevant star. Not very cool for those over the age of 12.

  29. The Dems winning the House and Senate in ’06 is fine and dandy, just as long as they don’t also keep both chambers and win the presidency in ’08. Divided govt. is, indeed, a good thing and pretty much the whole point of checks and balances.

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