Thursday, October 05, 2006

"Trader Murtha" playing fast and loose with your money?

When it comes to "earmarks," Jack Murtha practically invented them...

It looks like a scene out of an old movie: one about shady politicians and back-room deals. You can almost smell the cigar smoke and see the dirty money changing hands.

But unfortunately, it’s not an old film. It’s a real-life picture of the United States Congress. The cigars are gone, but the dirty deal-making is thoroughly up-to-date. And at the head of it is Rep. John Murtha (D) of Pennsylvania.

As the New York Times put it this week, Murtha has operated a “political trading post in a back corner of the House of Representatives.” Earmarks are expenditures that bypass the budgeting process and earn approval without debate. Many are infamous—like Alaska’s “bridge to nowhere.”

Murtha's "business as usual" way of doing things resembles more of a two-bit bookie parlor than it does a place where the best interests of the electorate are supposed to be decided:

On a typical day, according to the Times, “a gang of about two dozen Democrats mill around [Murtha’s] seat. A procession of others walk back to request pet spending projects.” Republicans come by, too, hoping to convince Murtha to enlist Democrats “to join them on close votes.”

As the Times puts it, “As the top Democrat on the House military spending subcommittee, [Murtha] often delivers Democratic votes to Republican leaders in a tacit exchange for earmarks for himself and his allies.” Whether lawmakers are looking for votes or a piece of pork, “Nobody ever leaves completely disappointed,” says one member.

Earmarks waste a whopping $64 billion a year, and they corrupt lawmakers, bribing them “to vote for a piece of legislation they wouldn’t ordinarily give two minutes to,” according to another member.

They also allow special-interest groups to put a stranglehold on our political system. But Murtha is unapologetic about what he does. “Deal making is what Congress is all about,” he says.

Mr. Murtha, treating earmarks like the Hokey Pokey. Come to think of it, if you or I did business with other people's money like Jack Murtha and his buddies in Congress, we'd be in the pokey.

Citizens of PA-12--you have the power to end this "hokey pokey" playing around with your hard-earned tax dollars.

You deserve better.

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