Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Ted Stevens vs. Government Transparency

As explained on my KMOX show today, there's a bill pending in the US Senate that would create a website with searchable information on where your tax dollars go. You could see find out how much money your senator was taking from various special interest groups, or who was getting a federal contract or grant, or who was hoarding all the congressional pork. It's all supposed to be on the public record, but there's no single place to find that info without digging into massive federal paperwork.

Unfortunately, the bill can't go anywhere because one senator put a "secret hold" on it. The rules of the senate give each of them that power, to keep the legislation or a nomination from ever reaching the floor for a vote (this odd rule has some resonance in my family, since a single senator was able to use it to block my brother from getting an appointment to a better position at the Labor Department a few years ago).

Several bloggers from both sides of the political spectrum have been trying to uncover who the secret holder is -- to reveal which senator doesn't want that transparency in our government.

This evening, their hard work paid off. After narrowing it down to just a few candidates, they finally got Senator Ted "Internet Tubes" Stevens (R-Alaska) to fess up and admit that he'd put the hold on the bill. This was the guy behind the $200,000,000 Bridge To Nowhere, as big a pork hog on the GOP side as Robert Byrd is on the Democrat side.

So, why did Stevens do it? He's mumbling some excuse, but it's probably revenge against bill co-sponsor Tom Coburn, who had dissed Stevens on the bridge pork.

By the way, Alaska's favorite son is on the Governmental Affairs Committee, but never attended a single hearing on this bill that he's so opposed to.

Your tax dollars in action.