Currently in the Senate there is somewhat of a catch 22 occurring. While before the recent elections and before the tax deal was struck with President Obama, the Republicans saw nothing wrong with continuing their practice of asking for as many earmarks for their constituents as they could get.
After the elections, however, and their promise to limit earmarks, an interesting thing occurred. The bill that would ultimately extend the Bush administration tax cuts still has a lot of pork attached to it and some of that pork is indicative of just how far removed some Republican senators are from mainstream American and it's problems, while still appearing to have some heart.
For instance, Senator Joe Bellowme from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania is beside himself with worry about the homeless people who are finding it hard to find shelter in what is quickly becoming one of the coldest winters in a long time. He has asked for $35 million dollars to retrofit the downtown sidewalks with controls which would allow the bums to choose the hardness of the pavement for their comfort. Using the same technology as a Sleep Number Bed, homeless can settle into a little nook on the sidewalk, adjust the convenient dials that will be installed along the sidewalks, and then choose to soften or increase the hardness of their make-shift beds.
"It is the right thing to do," claims Bellowme. "We don't have the money right now to fund more beds for the shelters, so we need to find ways to make the outdoors more comfortable for our comrades who don't have a regular home due to any number of circumstances."
While this earmark may, on its face, seem like a ridiculous way to spend millions of dollars, other earmarks are more in line with how most Republicans believe tax dollars should be spent. For instance, the request for $80 million by Sen. Billy Bob Howdy of Wyoming for bull semen storage containers made of titanium is, according to Howdy, a necessary evil. However, when pressed to further explain the request for such a large amount of money, Howdy simply told reporters he didn't need to explain himself. "This is bull," he said, "no pun intended" and walked away.