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Beltway Christmas: Cash for corruptocrats

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By Michelle Malkin  •  December 23, 2009 09:30 AM

My column looks at the year in Washington political bribery. And what a year it was for the Beltway’s reverse Santa Clauses, who are suspended simultaneously in mental states of denial and indignation. Democrat Sen. Mary “Louisiana Purchase” Landrieu defended her payoff while declaring that she “can’t be bought.”Democrat Sen. Tom “Iowa Bounty” Harkin dismissed the hundreds of millions of taxpayer-subsidized gifts to pols in the Demcare package as “small stuff.” And don’t even get me started on the 1,720 earmarks worth more than $4 billion in the defense appropriations bill. It’s nothing new, the Dems say in their defense. And that is precisely the point, isn’t it?

Related developments: More lawmakers — hello, Rep. James Clyburn — are lining up for Ben Nelson bonanzas — while attorneys general in seven states are investigating the legality of the deal.

Of course, sometimes it’s not what’s illegal in Washington, but what’s entirely legal, that perturbs…

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Beltway Christmas: Cash for corruptocrats
by Michelle Malkin
Creators Syndicate
Copyright 2009

The Democrats are right. Sleazy bribes and pork payoffs didn’t start with their government health care takeover bill. They’ve been doling out taxpayer-funded goodies for votes all year. Harry Reid’s latest Cash for Cloture deals are the culmination of Washington’s 2009 shopping spree at our expense.

Go back to January and February. The multi-trillion-dollar stimulus bill was the Mother of All Legislative Christmas Trees. The ruling party used the economic downturn to redistribute wealth from struggling Americans to favored congressional districts, phantom districts, special interests from golf cart makers to fly-by-night beauty salons. According to a new study by the Mercatus Center at George Mason University, Democrat districts have raked in nearly twice as much porkulus money as GOP districts – without regard to the actual economic suffering and job loss in those districts.

In fact, the researchers found far more stimulus money went to higher-income areas than lower-income areas.

That includes Democrat House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s backyard – where a $54 million no-bid contract was awarded to a firm with little experience to relocate a luxury Bay Area wine train due to flood concerns.

And it includes Barack Obama’s home state of Illinois, which reaped the single biggest earmark in the porkulus bill – $1 billion for the dubious FutureGen near-zero emissions “clean coal” plant earmark championed by disgraced Democrat and former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich and Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin.

And it includes Democrat Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid’s backyard – where he secured billions in high-speed rail stimulus earmarks from which he plans to fund a pie-in-the-sky public transportation line from Los Angeles to Las Vegas.

When taxpayers objected to business as usual masquerading as economic recovery, New York Democrat Sen. Charles Schumer sneered: “You lost.” And, he jibed on the Senate floor while wagging a grabby finger, “let me say this to all of the chattering class that so much focuses on those little tiny, yes, porky amendments, the American people really don’t care.” The “American people” Schumer referred to, of course, were the privileged minority of stimulus beneficiaries – not the rest of us “chattering” dissenters stuck with the bill for those billions in “little tiny, yes, porky amendments.”

No legislation has been immune to congressional shakedown. After the Congressional Black Caucus balked loudly enough, Democrat Rep. Barney Frank – chairman of the House Financial Services Committee – larded up the majority’s Wall Street regulatory “reform” bill with $4 billion in payoffs to minority special interests – including former failed Air America radio partner Inner City Broadcasting Corp. The cash-strapped firm is run by Percy Sutton – a New York City crony of Charlie Rangel and Al Sharpton. The money will come out of the ever-morphing TARP bank bailout fund – which went from a toxic assets purchase plan to a capital injection plan, back to a toxic assets purchase plan, to a life insurance company bailout, to an auto supplier bailout.

Leading the charge for the Cash for Cronies of Color drive: California Democrat Rep. Maxine Waters, who had already extracted $12 million in TARP funds for OneUnited, a minority-owned bank that is one of her key campaign donors and a company in which both Waters and her husband own massive amounts of stock.

Which brings us up to Demcare, the latest wealth redistribution scheme disguised as health care reform. In addition to the infamous $300 million “Louisiana Purchase” for Democrat Sen. Mary Landrieu and the (at least) $45 million “Cornhusker Kickback” for sellout Democrat Sen. Ben Nelson of Nebraska, Harry Reid threw around other, less-publicized gobs of cash for cloture votes to cut off debate and ram the bill through. He tossed in a Hospital Helper of $100 million to Connecticut Democrat Sen. Chris Dodd, whose re-election bid is in hot water.

There are bennies for insurance companies and hospitals in Michigan and “Frontier freebies” for hospitals in Montana, South Dakota, North Dakota, and Wyoming. There’s a New England’s Special Syrup for Vermont and Massachusetts – who will get similar (though less generous) special treatment by the feds as Nebraska in covering Medicaid expansion costs. Combined with Nebraska’s tab, the exclusive clique’s payoffs will cost at least taxpayers $1.2 billion over 10 years. There’s an ACORN/community organizer-friendly provision for minority health bureaucracies that was sought by Illinois Democrat Sen. Roland Burris, according to John McCormack of the Weekly Standard.

And there’s a $10 billion socialized medicine sop to Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders for “community health clinics” serving in essence as universal health care satellite offices. “We are talking about a revolution” here, Sanders enthused during the Senate’s sneaky Sunday session. No, revolution will come when taxpayers have a chance to kick these reverse Santa Clauses posing as saviors out of office. It can’t happen a minute too soon.

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