Republicans in Congress. Not my favorite people today. From the WSJ [sub only]:
President Bush had to twist a lot of arms to squeak his Central American Free Trade Agreement through Congress this week (see below), but Republicans are about to make sure he pays for a whole lot more than their chiropractor bills. Having sacrificed to support free trade, the Members prepared for the August recess by throwing themselves a giant spending party.
Speaker Dennis Hastert had barely waited for dawn to break after the midnight Cafta vote before he directed the House to pass a $286.4 billion highway bill. He expects Mr. Bush to sign this because it is “only” $2.4 billion more than the President’s 2005 veto limit, which is “only” $28 billion more than his 2004 veto limit of $256 billion, which was “only” a 17% increase over the previous six-year highway spending level. “Only” in Washington could spending so much money be considered an act of fiscal discipline.
The bill is all about “jobs, jobs, jobs,” declared Mr. Hastert, and he’s right if he’s referring to the Members’ re-election prospects. The House version alone contained 3,700 special earmarks, doled out liberally across state and party lines.
Democrat Jim Clyburn retained another $25 million for his famous “Bridge to Nowhere,” a project in rural South Carolina that has already sucked up $34 million in federal funds. The California delegation secured $1.4 billion for more than 479 projects, including $2.5 million for freeway landscaping. And ranking Transportation Committee Democrat James Oberstar snatched more than $14 million for Duluth, Minnesota, including $3.2 million for an extension of the longest paved recreational path in the nation.