It took me a little over three hours. Three hours that I will never have back in my life, and undoubtedly, three hours spent reading one of the worst pieces of legislation in American history.
For 451 pages, on and on, I read every single word of this cockamamie, pork-laden, waste-filled, inside-brokered, poor excuse for a bill that is designed to save our economy.
Masked under the guise of "financial rescue," Washington politicians have once again proven why they cannot be trusted with the fiscal responsibility of spending our tax money.
While most Americans will not read this bill, and may not know more about the bill than its now $800 billion price tag, I encourage every American as part of their civic duty to read the full text of the bill.
Inside this bill that is supposed to save the U.S. financial system is billions of wasteful spending and appropriations.
First, we'll start with my favorite appropriation in the entire bill: "Sec. 503. Exemption from excise tax for certain wooden arrows designed for use by children."
When I first read it, I didn't believe it either. The solution for "financial rescue" is giving relief for the makers of wooden arrows.
Why didn't someone point this out earlier? The problem with the economy wasn't the faulty practices in the mortgage industry, the overleveraging of Wall Street, or the weakness in the dollar, it was the makers of wooden arrows.
Well, now that we've straightened out the economy by giving special relief to wooden-arrow manufacturers, we can rest assured that America is back on the right track.
Give me a break.
While I'm sure that arrow makers across the United States are honorable and hardworking people, this bailout bill was not the time or the place to provide special incentives for the wooden-arrow industry, a small concern in the face of a massive problem, the degradation of our economy.
Congress should address the real problems of our economy.
They should address oversight in Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, eliminate misleading and risky practices in the mortgage industry such as subprime loans, create standards and oversight for mortgage-backed securities, curb short-selling practices including naked shorting, among many other reforms.
Congress also should address the American people. The American people are a breed unrivaled in today's world for their ingenuity and their entrepreneurial spirit.
Create a bill that implements private-sector solutions to the current economic situation. Give tax credits to individuals and corporations to buy up a lot of these homes with bad mortgages.
Give incentives for new investment. If America can get into this mess, it can get itself out of it without a big brother, pork-filled, bailout bill.
If you thought that financial relief for wooden arrow makers was of key importance, you might look at several other items that our U.S. Senate deemed essential to its "financial rescue" package.
According to ABC's Jake Tapper, the goodies included to attract wasteful Washington politicians to support the bill include: $192 million for the rum producers of Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands; $128 million for car-racing tracks; $33 million for corporations in American Samoa; and $10 million for small film and television productions.
To add to that, the bill authorizes a Wool Trust Fund and additional financial relief as part of the Exxon Valdez oil spill that happened 20 years ago.
Give me a break.
In times of crisis, we depend on our elected congressional officials to step up to the plate and provide real leadership, especially in times when it counts.
However, when push came to shove, when Washington had a chance to redeem itself and do something positive for the country to get it back on its feet, our politicians resorted to the old ways of pork-barrel spending and special interests.
To the presidential candidates: Shame on you!
To John McCain: How can you talk about having a 26-year track record of opposing pork-barrel spending and then vote for the biggest pork-barrel spending, non-annual budgetary bill in the history of Congress?
To Barack Obama: How can you talk about getting rid of lobbyists and special interests, then turn around and vote for this bill, when clearly this bill had lobbyist and special interest written all over it?
Both of these gentlemen, Barack Obama and John McCain, had a unique opportunity to show the American people that they are men of principle, men of character, men who can rise above the fray to protect the American people.
Those men may speak about it on the campaign trail, but they didn't show it.
And who pays for that?
The American taxpayer.
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