U.S. Sen. Dick Lugar cautioned the State Department that all requested spending, at this time of economic and fiscal hardship in America, will have to pass the acid test of whether foreign assistance programs contribute to national security and economic development. Lugar met with Deputy Secretary of State Thomas Nides prior to testimony by Secretary Hillary Clinton on Wednesday before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, where Lugar is ranking member. The Obama Administration has requested Congress to increase State Department funding by 8.4%.
So I wanted to go to that hearing today to follow up on points I raised yesterday. I asked C.I. last night if it would be easy to get into and she said, "Hold on." I took a tape recorder and got in on a pass. She knew she could find a friend who was overbooked (most reporters are) and would let me enter on a press pass if I'd take a tape recorder.
So thank you to C.I. and thank you to ____. But I picked the wrong hearing.
First off, Richard Lugar? Did he read his own release?
At one point today he was talking about spending even more money and yammering away about the Board of Governors (of Voice of America Radio but they didn't mention that). At one point it looked like a question about the money might get answered (raised by another senator); however, Hillary made it clear she didn't like the question and she started in on Iraq and the agreements we have with it and how that's what 'we' want with Afghanistan.
Hillary, I will gladly campaign for you again, but you came off worse in this hearing than the one yesterday. Yesterday, while asking for the biggest State Dept. budget ever, she remembered to at least give lip service to the fact that it was our money (the tax payers). Today she really didn't address that.
Which was surprising because --
I'll say it. If I'd been a senator, I would have asked her, "Did you prep by memorizing your responses?" She gave the exact same comments, every story was the same. "It's a lean budget for lean times." She said that today and yesterday. She went on about Al Jazeera today like she did yesterday and the same with China and it's English language news.
I might be pissed because I got played. I went to that hearing thinking Richard Lugar was going to stand up and ask for a budget justification. Instead he was as bad as all the Republicans yesterday.
Oh and she and Lugar? Both okay with the plan to give Egypt $150 million dollars. Wow. We've got homeless in America and they can give away $150 million of our tax payer dollars.
My takeaway from the hearing? No one gives a damn about your money except for how they can spend it.
Here's C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot:"