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September 8, 2007
The Democrats came into power promising to reform the abuses inherent in the federal funding mechanism known as "earmarks." This is a practice where a member can add on spending to a bill that no agency has asked for and no Congressional Committee had vetted.
Well, the Democrats have "reformed" the earmarks process allright - to the point that California Senator Diane Feinstein was able to slip a provision into the military construction and veterans affairs bill that would deny the Veterans Administration from disposing or leasing any of the 367 acres found on the massive and largely abandoned West Los Angeles Medical Center in Beverley Hills which affectively deprives the government of nearly $4 billion in revenue.
Donated to the government in 1888, the center is 387 sprawling, prime real-estate acres in the middle of tony West L.A. More than twice the size of the National Mall, it is surrounded by the mansions and playgrounds of the city's elite, including the Bel Air Country Club and the Beverly Hills estates of Sylvester Stallone, Barry Bonds and Tim McGraw (to name a few). I'll give you three guesses where Feinstein gets a lot of her campaign money. If you said Beverly Hills, you win a cookie.
Huge portions of the facility are also a veritable ghost town. It isn't just that 387 acres is an enormous space, and far larger than any one veteran's community in today's America might ever need. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, Los Angeles County also falls on the lowest end in terms of the percentage of veterans living in the area. Nationally, veterans make up about 12.7% of people over the age of 18; the county's average is below 8.5%. Of 91 buildings on campus, 21 are today partially or wholly vacant. Meanwhile, the number of enrolled veterans in that facility is expected to decline by nearly a quarter over the next 20 years.
Which is why, when the Department of Veteran's Affairs set up a process in 2002 to study its infrastructure and rationalize its facilities, it designated the West L.A. center as one of 18 sites that might be downsized, any extra land being used to produce more revenue for veterans' needs
Read Kimberly Strassel's entire piece at RealClear Politics. It will make you blood boil.