Pointless hysteria culminated in a foregone conclusion as President Obama signed the contentious tax rate compromise on Friday. Harry Reid has made it clear that there is little time to waste, and quickly segued to the other bills he planned to fast track before party hopes dim in January, including the DREAM Act, which twitched and died on the Senate floor Saturday morning.
One of the more curious leftovers still in the running is a massive conservation spending package announced as the ink was still drying on the tax bill. Senate Democrats are promoting “America’s Great Outdoors Act of 2010” as “…a package of more than 110 individual bills aimed at improving and protecting our country’s public lands, waterways, ocean resources and critical wildlife populations.” 
The Great Outdoors Act is a conglomeration of initiatives lashed together with the hope that more stands a better chance of passage than less. The bill allocates taxpayer funds for everything from waterfowl to marine mammal rescues, worthy causes in better times that we can no longer afford. Despite Reid’s claim that “Senator Reid has a strong commitment to fiscal responsibility and an established track record of working to restore fiscal discipline in Washington.” , this bill is perhaps the most egregious example yet of just how eager Reid is to spend our money. Following are just a few of the taxpayer commitments contained in the act’s 1,003 pages:
• Exhibits at the Dorothy Buell Memorial Visitor Center in Porter County, Indiana: $1,500,000.
• Revolutionary War and War of 1812 American Battlefield Funding: $20,000,000 over ten years.
• National Parks “Volunteers in the Parks Act of 1969”: $6,500,000 increase to $10,000,000.
• Avalanche Protection Program: $16,000,000 over four years.
• National Volcano Early Warning and Monitoring Program: $150,000,000 over ten years.
• Fish Habitat Conservation Projects: $375,000,000 over five years.
• Reauthorization, Neotropical Migratory Bird Conservation Act: $40,500,000 over five years.
• Interpretation of the history of the Wakamatsu Tea and Silk Farm Colony, including designing a visitor center: any sum necessary.
Lawmakers fond of conjuring images of struggling families barely able to put food on the table are fundamentally incapable of drawing a connection between spending that wins votes and keeps them employed, and the deteriorating circumstances of a country that has to foot the bill for their every whim.
Senator Reid claims that he “…has worked to eliminate a variety of wasteful spending throughout the government.” , which begs the question of what “wasteful spending” he is referring to, and whether “worked to eliminate” means that he was successful. As Reid backs a good deal of spending we will, for now, assume he is referring to opposition party waste. Keeping that in mind, and given Nevada’s 26.5% Hispanic population, Mr. Reid should forget about conservation spending for now. The Senator should be more concerned with how he is going to explain the death of the DREAM Act to the folks back home.
NEXT: How we can pay for earmarks without spending a cent.
1..Democrats.Senate.gov. Reid Calls For Passage Of Land, Water and Wildlife Bill. December 17, 2010.
2..Senator Harry Reid, Majority Leader. Working to Restore Fiscal Discipline. From Congressional website.