Email Ken Stallings   Transparency

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According to my handy personal dictionary from Webster's, the word transparency is defined as "easily understood or detected; obvious."  Likewise, the definition of an earmark is "to reserve for a special purpose."

Inside Washington DC, especially our US House of Representatives, it appears new dictionaries are needed.  Or at least ones based on the English language rather than the political language.

Yesterday, it came to light that leading Democrats in the House wish to modify existing rules.  These new proposed rules would allow the House leadership to redact from the public reports information on who sponsors earmarks and on what the money will be used for.  But not to worry, the transparency comes when the House decides to publish this information in the public record at a date well after the earmarks are passed into spending law.

Within the Washington Beltline, the word transparent means "hidden until made visible later."  And the word earmark means "pork barrel money used to buy district votes in a re-election campaign."

All of which serves to validate the real message new House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-California, delivered when she promised a renewed transparency to House budget deliberations and earmarks.  With transparency like this, the Mississippi River will go from being known as the Big Muddy to the Big Clear!

The sad fact is that this revalidates the point that Congress is out of touch.  In an era where tax burdens are already objects of voter discontent, and the federal deficit sets a new record daily, setting aside selfish pork projects needs serious reduction, not a new level of unaccountability.  Republican House reps suddenly have found an issue.  It would have been nice if they discovered their fiscal discipline when they were in the majority.

If the public knew ahead of time who sought out, and who stood to benefit from, a pork laden, earmark heavy bill, then the debate would be fair and complete.  Few things are more dangerous than a politician with a hidden string to pull on the national purse.  And when politicians seek to hide such efforts, the warning flags should go up equally for all citizens of all political ideals.

Of course, politicians know this.  So their latest mantra is for the public to let them pull the shades down and get own with the true business of Washington, which is the perpetuation of individual power over the public.  Who does the government work for again!

-- Ken Stallings

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