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The 'Sandy Scam'

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Tuesday, Dec. 18, 2012, 8:45 p.m.

What would a disaster-relief bill submitted just days before Christmas be without a good ol'-fashioned Washington tree trimming? Indeed, President Obama's $60.4 billion bauble-laden Tannenbaum for Hurricane Sandy relief truly decks taxpayers' halls.

Fiscal watchdogs are calling it “Sandy Scam” for valid reasons. Billions of dollars are slated for areas and special interests that have nothing to do with damages from Sandy, according to The New York Post and The Washington Times. Among the more audacious ornaments:

• $13 billion for “mitigation projects” to prepare for future storms.

• $150 million for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration for fisheries in Alaska.

• $8 million to buy cars and equipment for the Justice and Homeland Security departments.

But these items should go through the regular appropriation process (such as it is) in Congress, right? Not if Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., gets his way. He wants to speed the bill through. Never let a crisis go to waste, eh?

And it's not just Mr. Obama who's stringing tinsel. He sought $32 million to repair part of the Amtrak rail system; Senate elves pumped up that amount tenfold, according to The Times.

So while Congress and the president endeavor to fix the latest fix of their fiscal disregard — presumably without going over the so-called “cliff” — they're also decorating a disaster-relief “tree” that stands as a shining symbol of their hypocrisy.

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