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Massachusetts Liberal

Observations on politics, the media and life in Massachusetts and beyond from the left side of the road.

Saturday, November 05, 2005

'Scuse me?

You truly have to marvel at the audacity of theocons like Tom "Termite" DeLay. His latest excuse -- the Democrats made me do it.

OK, we know the Dems are the reason he's been indicted in Texas. No, not the phony allegations of prosecutorial bias. The yet to be judged allegations that he laundered money to screw the Democrats by redistricting the Texas legislature, using corporate money despite laws against that sort of thing.

No, the Democrats, Termite Tom says, are to blame for the massive pork barrel spending in this year's transportation bill.

The Washington Post reports (alas without a direct quotation) that the Tommeister told the Heritage Foundation the Demmies made them do it.

Former House majority leader Tom DeLay (R-Tex.), who was instrumental in shaping the highway bill in the House, apologized for its excesses during an appearance on Thursday before the Heritage Foundation.

In a speech to a group of conservative academics and policy experts, DeLay blamed the runaway spending of recent years on minority Democrats. When he took questions, the first came from a senior official at the American Conservative Union, who asked DeLay, "How large does the Republican majority in the House and Senate need to be before Republicans act like the fiscal conservative I thought we were?

"I'm not here to defend the highway bill," DeLay responded. He described the overall 1,000-page legislation, which funds major interstate, bridge and mass transit projects and distributes gasoline tax revenue to states according to a formula, as an important economic development tool.

He conceded that Congress may have gone a bit overboard."Our responsibility, that frankly we didn't perform very well, is to make sure those are legitimate earmarks for legitimate reasons," DeLay said, referring to the pet projects.

(Note to Heritage Foundation: If you are looking for indicted Republican officials I hear Scooter Libby is available. Probably only costs a small donation to his legal defense fund).

And of course the biggest oinker in the stew is the "Bridge to Nowhere," a tribute Alaska Sen. Ted Stevens, pork prowess. Congress set aside a mere $223 million to build a bridge connected a community of 8,900 with another one of 50 souls. That 7-minute ferry ride was too much for folks I guess. That kind of spending actually makes Boston's Big Pig, er, Dig, seem fiscally responsible.

DeLay, you will recall, is the man who kept roll calls open well beyond allotted time to twist Republican arms to get things passed. He controls the House (oh yeah, I forgot, he stepped down as majority leader) with as tight a fist as any past leader of either party.

Yet he claims (and his Heritage audience no doubt believes) that the Democrats are responsible for this current effort to snag our great-great-great grandchildren in crushing debt?

Maybe so, because they also believe we aren't spending any money in Iraq. After all, it's not on the budget.

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