Tom Purcell, 9/22/2008 [Archive]

Change We Can Spare

Change We Can Spare

By Tom Purcell

"Boy, I can't wait for Obama to bring us the change we need."

"Change? What change?"

"At the Democratic National Convention, he said he's going to cut wasteful spending in Washington! We certainly need to rein in all the taxpayer dough those birds in Washington keep squandering."

"To be sure, Washington has been squandering plenty. President Bush's annual budgets grew from $2 trillion to more than $3 trillion in only six years. But why do you think Obama is the guy to rein in spending?"

"Because he and Joe Biden have a record of getting the job done."

"I hate to break your bubble, but, according to Citizens Against Government Waste, Obama and Biden are two of the biggest spenders in the Senate. Where spending is concerned, they are classified as 'hostile and 'unfriendly,' respectively, according to CAGW's rating system."

"They are?"

"On a scale of zero to 100 percent -- with 100 percent representing someone who manages taxpayer money frugally -- CAGW gave Obama a 10 percent score for 2007 and a lifetime score of 18 percent."

"That's not so good."

"Biden was given a zero percent score for 2007 and a lifetime score of 22 percent. The rankings make perfect sense. According to the National Journal, Obama and Biden are ranked as the first and third most liberal U.S. senators."

"What's so wrong about being liberal?"

"Nothing, except that many liberals believe more government programs are the best way to solve America's problems. Both Obama and Biden have a record of promoting bigger government and more spending. Neither met an earmark they didn't like."

"What do you mean by 'earmark'?"

"An earmark is an authorization to use taxpayer money to fund a specific project. Our esteemed politicians frequently slip them into various bills when nobody is watching. Some earmarks are useful, but many represent wasteful government spending at its worst."

"Why have Obama and Biden never met an earmark they didn't like?"

"Since he became a U.S. senator, Obama slipped nearly $1 billion in earmarks into various bills, such as three-quarters of a million to fund a visitors' center and another $700,000 to fund soybean-disease research."

"What's wrong with visitors and healthier soybeans?"

"I'm in favor of both, but why do you and I have to pay for them? As for Biden, he slipped in $120 million in earmarks in 2007 alone. His earmarks funded everything from oyster-bed revitalization to the renovation of an opera house."

"You'll be thanking Joe the next time you go to Delaware to take in an opera. Besides, don't all the senators waste dough? Surely McCain is just as guilty."

"The fact is McCain has never asked for a single earmark in all the years he's been in the Senate. Last year, he was given a 100 percent rating by CAGW and classified a 'hero.'"

"A hero?"

"He would have been classified a 'superhero,' the highest classification, had he not missed so many votes while on the campaign trail. McCain also was given a lifetime rating of 88 percent."

"OK, hotshot, then what about Sarah Palin?"

"CAGW's ratings apply only to members of the U.S. Congress. It is the Congress, not a governor, who funds earmarks. CAGW did, however, praise Palin for cutting wasteful spending in her state."

"Yeah, well what about that Bridge to Nowhere, the poster child of wasteful earmark spending?"

"Palin did support that project early on, but, like it or not, she was the one who finally killed it. And like it or not, it was McCain who opposed it and Obama and Biden who voted for it."

"So you're saying that Obama's promises of change and reduced spending don't correlate with his record?"

"I'm saying that if you want wasteful spending to be reined in, McCain is much more likely to do it than Obama -- if that's the kind of change you're looking for."

© 2008 Tom Purcell. Tom is a humor columnist nationally syndicated exclusively by Cagle Cartoons. For more info contact Sales at (805) 969-2829 or email Visit Tom on the web at or e-mail him at

RESTRICTIONS: 'Tom Purcell's column may not be reprinted in general circulation print media in Pennsylvania's Allegheny, Beaver, Butler, and Westmoreland Counties. It may appear only in the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review and its sister publications.

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