Few Americans were aware that an emergency arose in Washington during March. There was little news coverage of the emergency and the pontificating pundits of talk radio could find no moral outrage present with which to anger their listeners. Surprisingly, the politicians that swiftly ended the emergency on March 11, 2005 did not hold a series of press conferences to congratulate themselves on the wonderful work they did.
The clever politicians dealt with the emergency by passing HR-1268. According to Congress, this was a bill making emergency supplemental appropriations for the fiscal year ending September 30, 2005, and for other purposes. Congress effectively dealt with the emergency of paying for the global war on terror in Iraq, Afghanistan, and America. Apparently when Congress passed the normal budget bills, there was no need to fund the war on terror at that time.
Not all members of Congress thought there was an emergency. One Congressman, Dr. Ron Paul, wrote critically of the bill passed by the majority. He claimed that Congress is digging us deeper into debt with useless foreign aid and domestic pork.
Dr. Paul wrote:
Last week Congress spent another $82 billion in an "emergency" supplemental appropriations bill. There is no emergency, however: Congress simply exceeded its fiscal year budget once again and needs more money. The 13 standard appropriations bills, which provide about $2.4 trillion to run the federal government in 2005, are not enough to satisfy the ravenous spending appetites of Congress and the administration. Hence the so-called emergency supplemental bill, which cravenly combines troop funding with useless foreign aid and domestic pork.
Dr. Paul went on to describe some of the emergency appropriations:
$656 million for tsunami relief. As I've written before, Americans have sent hundreds of millions of dollars in private donations to tsunami victims. Why should we be taxed further? Why is flooding in Sri Lanka or Thailand more important than flooding in Wharton, Victoria, or Galveston, Texas?
$94 million for Sudan, another candidate for charity rather than government aid;
$582 million to build a new American embassy in Iraq, an outrageous sum considering that entire luxury resorts are built for less than $500 million;
$76 million to build a new airport in Kuwait, one of the wealthiest countries on earth;
Over $500 million to address the drug trade in Afghanistan, despite clear evidence that the production of opium has grown exponentially since America began pouring billions of tax dollars into that country in 2001;
$200 million in economic aid for the Palestinians;
$150 million for Pakistan, which is run by an unelected dictator;
$34 million for Ukraine, where the U.S. already intervened in last year's elections using your tax dollars. Ukraine recently repaid our generosity by dumping the U.S. dollar and adopting an exchange rate that includes the Euro.
Finally, the emergency supplemental bill enables the District of Columbia to use taxpayer funds to build a new baseball stadium. This is perhaps the greatest insult of all in a bill that amounts to extortion cloaked in patriotic "support the troops" rhetoric.
Dr. Paul neglected to mention some of the pressing domestic emergencies contained in the 74 page bill. At the end of the bill, after the billions allocated for spreading democracy by military means, a number of pressing domestic needs were funded. Many of these funds were for the suffering children of America.
Who knew that Chinese language programs in two of Fairfax County's elementary schools needed funds? Who would have guessed that the lack of funding for various arts programs had become an emergency? But, thanks to Congress, we can all relax knowing that these and other emergencies have been dealt with.
Emergencies thwarted by Congress include funding for these items:
$500,000 for Mississippi Museum of Art After School Collaborative
$2,000,000 for the Teacher Advancement Program Foundation, Santa Monica, CA
$1,000,000 for Battelle for Kids, Columbus,OH
$750,000 for the Institute of Heart Math, Boulder Creek, CA
$200,000 for Fairfax County Public Schools, Fairfax, VA for Chinese language programs in Shrevewood Elementary School and Wolftrap Elementary School
$1,250,000 for the University of Alaska/Southeast in Juneau, AK, working with the State of Alaska and Catholic Community Services, for the Alaska System for Early Education Development
$25,000 for QUILL Entertainment Company, Aston, PA, to develop and disseminate programs to enhance the teaching of American history
$780,000 for The Foundry Art Centre, St.Charles, Missouri for support of arts education
$100,000 for Chester Economic Development Authority, Chester, PA for a community arts program
$100,000 for Kids with A Promise - The Bowery Mission, New York, NY
$50,000 for Great Projects Film Company,Inc., New York, NY, to produce ‘Educating America’
$30,000 for American Camping Association for Summer Camp Opportunities Provide an Edge (SCOPE),
New York, NY for YMCA Camps Skycrest and Speers-Elijabar
$163,000 for Space Education Initiatives, De Pere, for the Wisconsin Space Science Initiative
$145,000 for the University of Iowa, Iowa City, IA for the Iowa and Israel Partners in Excellence program to enhance math and science opportunities to rural Iowa students
$150,000 for Mercy College, Dobbs Ferry, NY,for the development of a master’s degree program in nursing education, including marketing and recruitment activities
$100,000 for University of Alaska System Office to develop distance education coursework for arctic engineering courses and programs
$100,000 for Moberly Area Community College, Moberly, MO for equipment and technology