JERRY LEWIS MAY BE THE KING OF EARMARKS BUT THAT DOESN'T MEAN THE FOLKS IN HIS DISTRICT ARE BENEFITING
One of the most far right editorial board of any leading American newspaper is that of GOP mainstay the Wall Street Journal. Before the devastating losses the GOP suffered in 2006, the Journal predicted it and singled out California's, if not America's, most corrupt politician as the author.
If Republicans lose control of Congress in November, they might want to look back at last Thursday as the day it was lost. That's when the big spenders among House Republicans blew up a deal between the leadership and rank-in-file to impose some modest spending discipline.
Unlike the collapse of the immigration bill, this fiasco can't be blamed on Senate Democrats. This one is all about Republicans and their refusal to give up their power to spend money at will and pass out "earmarks" like a bartender offering drinks on the house. The chief culprits are the House Appropriators, led by Committee Chairman Jerry Lewis of California and his 13 subcommittee chairmen known as "cardinals." If Republicans lose the House--and they are well on their way--Mr. Lewis deserves the moniker of the minority maker.
For weeks, the Republican Study Committee, a group of fiscally conservative Members, had been negotiating a spending outline with the House leadership. But when they finally struck a deal last week, Mr. Lewis refused to go along and threatened to defeat the budget on the House floor if Speaker Denny Hastert brought it up. With Democrats opposing the budget as a matter of party unity, GOP leaders gave up and left town for Easter recess without a vote on their budget blueprint for 2007.
...When President Bush recently asked Congress to pass a modified line-item veto, among the first to complain was Mr. Lewis. The spending baron told the Rules Committee last month that the line-item veto "could be a very serious error" that threatens the separation of powers. "We are the legislative branch of government."
Translation: Mr. Lewis is opposed to any budget reform that would give the President more leverage to limit his ability to spend tax dollars like there's no tomorrow. On the item veto, this puts him to the fiscal left of John Kerry, Al Gore, and, well, it's hard to get any further left than that.
The reforms that Mr. Lewis objected to can only be called modest in any case. In return for supporting President Bush's $873 billion discretionary spending limit for Fiscal 2007, the conservatives had sought a few budget "process" reforms. Kevin Brady of Texas wanted a floor vote to establish a commission to sunset federal agencies that have outlived their usefulness. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin asked for a floor vote on the line-item veto-- just a vote. Mr. Lewis and his band of spenders would still have the chance to try and defeat it on the House floor.
Although Lewis has spent well over a million dollars in legal fees to keep from being indicted, it is well known that the earmarks king-- and his earmarks queen-- were funneling massive amounts of money into projects to help Lewis' financial situation. He always defends his time at the federal trough by claiming "One of our jobs is to help California and my district get as much of their money back as possible." But in reality any help that California or his district gets from his shenanigans is tangential-- like when a thief grabs a loaf of bread and claims it helps the neighborhood because some of the crumbs fall off when he's running down the street and the neighbors get to eat the crumbs. Yum, yum.
Today Lewis is the subject of multiple coorruption investigations, most of which have bene tied in knots bu his crack legal team and by GOP string pulling. Last year he managed to haul in nearly $100 million in earmarks "including $2 million for an integrated propulsion analysis tool, which would benefit Advatech Pacific, a company represented in Washington by Innovative Federal Strategies. A partner of the firm is Letitia White, Lewis’s former Appropriations defense staff member. She was formerly with the firm Copeland Lowery Jacquez Denton & White. Federal investigators are reportedly looking into the connection between Lewis, White and Bill Lowery, the lawmaker’s longtime friend. Lewis also asked for $3 million to fund the Lewis Center for Education Research."
Today we read in the L.A. Times that one of the cities in Lewis' district, Needles, doesn't feel they've been getting squat-- and they want to secede. Voters in Needles "grouse about not getting their roads paved, about being 220 miles from the county seat, about being a dumping ground for parolees and sex offenders -- all the while gazing enviously across the Colorado River at boomtowns in Arizona and Nevada."
"Have you been downtown?" asked City Councilman Richard Pletcher. "It's like little Hiroshima. It's HiroNeedles."
Resentment has been mounting for years, but the county's decision to reduce the Colorado River Medical Center, the town's once proud hospital, to a small urgent-care facility has sparked open rebellion. Needles is now considering leaving California to join Nevada or Arizona or to create its own independent county.
"This is not a publicity stunt. We are serious about secession," said former Mayor and Councilman Roy Mills. "Look at Nevada, they are booming. Look at Arizona, they are booming. We want to level the playing field. I was initially skeptical about splitting off, but the more I learn about it, the more doable it seems."
In many ways, people here have already left; they just haven't moved. They often dine, shop and work across the river. Their schools' sports teams compete against teams in Nevada and Arizona, not California. And for fun they usually head to Las Vegas, Lake Havasu or Laughlin, not west to Barstow.
So where is all the pork Needles' congressman drags back to the district? It goes to communities who hire lobbyists who bribe him. It goes to businesses that give him campaign contributions. It goes to areas that are valuable to his career trajectory and personal financial status. Lewis has been very successful in manipulating the Bush Regime's corrupted Justice Department. That he isn't in prison with his colleague Duke Cunningham is a testament to his ability to pervert the system for his own benefit. But if Needles does secede and joins Arizona or Nevada, I have one request: Please take Jerry Lewis with you!