BY RICK MANNING | OCTOBER 23, 2013
D.C. Establishment: The biggest loser
The infamous Cornhusker Kickback which helped get Obamacare enacted into law and effectively ended Ben Nelson's Senate career has now been joined by the Kentucky Kickback in the checkered legislative history of the health care law.
Tucked into the "deal" to end the government shutdown, raise the debt ceiling and keep Obamacare intact is an additional $2 billion plus of spending for a dam in Republican Leader and lead negotiator Mitch McConnell's home state.
McConnell incredibly claims no knowledge of how this earmark got into the bill and his staff pointed to equally politically beleaguered Tennessee Senator Lamar Alexander as the person who put it into the law.
As a personal disclaimer, I worked for Senator McConnell's wife, Secretary Elaine L. Chao, for two and a half years at the Department of Labor. Chao will go down in history as the greatest Labor Secretary in history, as she imposed budget restraint on the department, implemented union transparency laws that increased union leadership accountability to their membership, and overturned a department wide culture that favored organized labor over job creation.
I like and respect Secretary Chao, but the audacity of the Kentucky Kickback cannot be swept under the rug.
It symbolizes everything that is wrong with Washington, D.C. and will likely become this election cycle's equivalent of the "Bridge to Nowhere" in ads run against McConnell and Senate Republicans by his deal making partner Harry Reid.
In fact, McConnell's in-state and D.C. political opponents could not have asked for a better present than this government works pork. It is almost like he was set up, but we know he wasn't.
Even more incredible than the McConnell pork is the $174,000 gift in the legislation that was bestowed to the wife of the deceased former New Jersey Senator Frank Lautenberg. The destitute widow was only left with a $100 million plus fortune, and when you are spending other people's money, Harry Reid and friends couldn't resist giving her a little going away gift. After all it is other people's money.
The largesse was but a small pittance for both her and the federal government, but it totaled more than the annual salary of three American workers.
Over the next days and weeks, America will be subjected to constant recaps of the budget fight, with the pundits trying to set the winners and losers firmly in the borg-like D.C. collective mind for use against those who dare buck the system in the future.
Few will note that the real loser is the D.C. political establishment. An establishment which had its veneer stripped away revealing a president who is vindictive and venal, establishment Republicans who attempted to tear apart those who actually tried to keep the promises made in their campaign brochures, and a snearing Harry Reid who attacked veterans, furloughed government workers, and children with cancer with rare honesty showing the system's disdain for those who rely upon it.
For the public, November, 2014 cannot get here soon enough.
Rick Manning is the vice president of public policy and communications for Americans for Limited Government