The Omnibus Budget bill that Paul Ryan crammed through Congress last week didn't just harbor a domestic mass surveillance law and a bunch of nonsensical dog-whistles about ACORN and pornography, it was also full of grotesque pork for rich people and pointless government boondoggles.
Paul Ryan prohibited any amendments of the 2,300+ page bill, giving Congress the option of voting for it as-is, or voting against it and risking shutting down the US government. Despite these stark choices, US Congressman Jared Polis (D-CO), a known happy mutant, voted against it, for ten reasons he enumerated:
1. A surveillance bill masquerading as a cybersecurity solution was attached behind closed doors, which will grossly expand the NSA's access to Americans' private information. More bad news on the privacy front: earlier this year the House passed several amendments to prohibit unwarranted surveillance, but this wasn't included in the final package.
2. The bill provides almost $60 billion for the Overseas Contingency Operations (OCO) account – a slush fund allowing the Pentagon to subvert the budget caps required for all other parts of the federal government and wage undeclared war.
3. We'll be continuing to pay for a catfish inspection program that has yet to inspect a single catfish – to the tune of $14 million per year. (USDA says they might inspect one next year!)
4. We'll also continue shelling out billions of dollars in sugar subsidies to corporate agriculture.
5. For reasons I can't begin to fathom, the Drug Enforcement Agency is getting a $51.5 million plus-up – even as the agency continues wasting funds interfering in state marijuana laws that could be spent tackling real law enforcement challenges.
6. Meanwhile, a program devoted to helping teachers incorporate educational technology in the classroom has been zeroed out entirely.
7. We'll spend $1.3 billion to maintain an excessive nuclear weapons arsenal capable of blowing up the world seven times over.
8. The bill overturns the will of D.C. voters and prohibits them from thoughtfully regulating marijuana.
9. The bill calls for wasting $212 million on the strategic petroleum reserve – an enormous stockpile of oil that the government has no plans to ever use – while also sending American oil overseas.
10. And the bill gives NASCAR an $11-million tax giveaway this year. Wealthy horse owners will also get a $90-million giveaway.