Just in time for his 2010 re-election campaign, Sen. Harry Reid has transformed himself from "Dingy Harry," the grumpy, mumbling majority leader, into "Santa Harry," the cheery, grandfatherly lawmaker who brings presents to all the good little governments in Nevada.
A photo of a smiling Sen. Reid greets visitors to his congressional Web site (reid.senate.gov). "My job as the Senate Majority Leader allows me to deliver meaningful results for Nevada families," Sen. Reid writes under the "Welcome" heading.
A short scroll down the Web site reveals just what Sen. Reid intends to deliver: pork. Lots and lots of pork.
Under the heading "Working For Nevada" is a link to "Nevada Appropriations Requests." A click displays an interminable list of potential earmarks for fiscal year 2010 at a price tag of hundreds of millions of dollars.
"Although some criticize 'earmarks,' or congressionally-directed funding, the Constitution provides Congress with authority to direct federal spending," Sen. Reid writes in a message atop the list. "Congressionally directed spending is consistent with very core concepts in our democracy -- decision making by directly elected officials, responsible to their constituents."
Actually, the Constitution provides Congress with the power to tax and "provide for the common defense and general Welfare of the United States" -- a clause lawmakers have long interpreted to mean "anything and everything that helps buy us votes." Such perspective essentially holds that Congress has limitless authority, when in fact the Constitution was crafted to establish specific limits on federal power.
But hey, who are we to question the intentions of the founders when Santa Harry is getting ready to hand out gifts?
"Throughout my time in Washington, I have fought to bring federal funding back to Nevada to create jobs, strengthen our classrooms, build roads and infrastructure, diversify the economy, and provide valuable services for all Nevadans," the message says.
Actually, government doesn't create jobs and diversify the economy -- it constricts both. Every dollar Santa Harry spends must either be seized from the masses, limiting their prosperity, or printed, exacerbating the hidden tax known as inflation. Businesses and investors create jobs and diversify the economy, not the heavy hand of government, which demands greater control of our lives in exchange for its benevolence.
"With the uncertain economic climate and state budget shortfalls, Nevada faces many challenges to maintain and improve our quality of life. Federal funding can help address some of these priorities and make Nevada an even better place to live, work, and raise a family," Sen. Reid's message says.
There we have it. No doubt, Sen. Reid will pay more attention to East Coast and West Coast lefties than to his home state if he's re-elected. But we're assured that a vote for Sen. Reid will keep the federal welfare flowing into recession-ravaged Nevada and help the 2011 Legislature continue to expand state government despite the private sector's inability to sustain it. Sen. Reid's message is a tacit acknowledgement that the stimulus boondoggle and all those bailouts won't have Nevada's economy turned around by November 2010.
Moreover, why should anyone believe Sen. Reid's promises of future pork when he can't deliver the bacon today? Analyses by The Wall Street Journal and Recovery.gov -- a federal government Web site -- show that Nevada is not realizing any benefit from Sen. Reid's position of power. Overall, the states hit hardest by the recession are receiving the least amount of stimulus funding, per capita. In fact, Nevada ranks dead last among the states in stimulus education spending and third from last in stimulus transportation spending -- two categories Sen. Reid singles out as recipients of his "meaningful results."
Earmarks are one of the worst parts of the deficit-spending, incumbent-protection racket in Washington. Yes, the process has become more transparent, and Sen. Reid is partially responsible for that. But these add-on appropriations are nothing more than special favors and political paybacks, lard designed to win the loyalty of the unprincipled and the vast government bureaucracy. Everyone promises to be good -- especially to Santa Harry -- if he'll keep bringing them presents.
Sen. Reid cautions the excitable tax-consuming class that not everyone will get what they want. "Unfortunately, many deserving projects may not receive funding, and those that do receive funding may not get all of the funding they have requested." But Sen. Reid gives those who don't have their wish lists fulfilled an enticing option: "If you would like to make an Appropriations request for FY2011, please contact my office in the fall."
Ho, ho, ho.