Fiscal profligacy has been a conservative concern of near paramount importance since the 110th Congress passed Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP) bailout funding – a development that many believe gave rise to the conservative insurgent movement which later became known as the tea party. Since then, tea party conservatives have been expressing deep concerns about the government spending ranging from the Affordable Care Act, to the Recovery and Reinvestment Act, to Defense Department procurement waste, to ballooning entitlement spending and liabilities, to the nation’s nearly $18 trillion in debt. And that is just the tip of the iceberg.
Furthermore, conservative groups have screamed at the top of their lungs about government waste and fraud, amounting to billions per year in poorly used taxpayer dollars. The Heritage Foundation has a helpful post which itemizes some of the most wasteful government programs, ranging from the $25 billion Washington spends on maintaining vacant federal buildings, to $2.4 billion used to provide the Pentagon with jets they will never use, to $2.6 million the U.S. government applied to a program aimed at “training Chinese prostitutes to drink more responsibly on the job.”
Most of these concerns were scoffed at and dismissed by the media when they weren’t ignored outright. Publicizing any of this waste is of little value to the public, the press apparently surmised. But when Republicans get it in their heads to enforce the separation of powers and put a Democratic president in a political bind by compelling him to administer all the provisions of a deeply unpopular law he championed, then all of the sudden the media finds itself incensed by the application of American tax dollars to such a frivolous cause.
“The House of Representatives will pay a law firm $500 an hour to represent them in their lawsuit against President Obama, a move that drew scorn from their Democratic counterparts,” CBS News reported on Tuesday.
According to a contract released by Rep. Candice Miller, R-Michigan, the chairwoman of the House Administration Committee, the House has retained the services of David Rivkin, a partner at the law firm Baker & Hostetler LLP. The contract authorizes a rate of $500 per hour for work as well as a cap of $350,000 on the litigation.
The House voted 225 to 201 in late July to proceed with the lawsuit, which alleges that the president overreached on his authority by unilaterally changing the implementation of the Affordable Care Act. The vote broke down along party lines, with the exception of five Republicans who voted against moving forward with the suit.
“House Republicans continue to waste time and taxpayer-dollars on a lawsuit against the President of the United States,” House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), who fought for every dollar of new spending passed in the 111th Congress, said with a straight face.
At least we know the press is capable of expressing concern over wasteful spending given the right conditions. Who knows? If there is a Republican president and a GOP congress in 2017, maybe the media will wake to the reality that not every cent spent by the federal government is crucial to Americans’ wellbeing. Just don’t hold your breath.