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Good old 'small government' Denny Hastert brings home the pork

Nine months after Scott B. Palmer, left, chief of staff to Speaker J. Dennis Hastert, got an honorary degree from Aurora University, $9.8 million was earmarked for the school in an appropriations bill. Photo: Steve Lundy — Aurora Beacon-News

Last week the Blend featured Senator “Uncle” Ted Stevens of Alaska’s $1.5 million taxpayer funded initiative to renovate an Anchorage bus stop. This week we have small government advocate, disgusting porcine House Speaker Denny Hastert (R-IL) oinking away $24 million out of your pocket for his district, funneling it to non-profits with ties to his chief of staff Scott Palmer and other staffers.

When Scott B. Palmer received an honorary degree in 2002 from his alma mater, Aurora University in Illinois, he urged the graduating class to “give back to our university, to our community and to our country.”

…Palmer runs a congressional office that has been able to do just that for Aurora, the birthplace of his boss and the largest city in his boss’s home district…Aurora’s Rush-Copley Medical Center, where Palmer is an unpaid trustee, captured a total of $5.5 million in 2002 and 2003. About $3.4 million has gone to another Aurora hospital where another member of Hastert’s staff had worked.

…Unlike a long line of big spenders before him — including such masters of pork-barrel politics as the late speaker Thomas P. “Tip” O’Neill Jr. (D-Mass.) — Hastert is a conservative Republican who favors smaller government and leaner domestic budgets. He has led the fight to enforce tough White House spending limits for the highway program and domestic spending bills, sometimes over the objections of GOP committee chairmen.

As the Bush administration applies the brakes to domestic spending, some are questioning the fairness of a system that enables powerful politicians to keep federal dollars flowing back home while districts represented by mere rank-and-file lawmakers are squeezed.

“The vast majority of [congressional] districts are getting below what they would get under any kind of a formula, and the big hogs are getting a disproportionate share,” said Scott Lilly, former Democratic chief of staff on the House Appropriations Committee.

These Repugs make me sick. The hypocrisy is mind-boggling.

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Pam Spaulding

Pam Spaulding