Obama Wants Lieberman To Stay -- But At What Price?

It's being reported that Obama has now expressed his clear support not only for Joe Lieberman staying in the caucus, but for retaining his Chairmanship of the Department of Homeland Security Committee.

While it's one thing for Obama to personally forgive Lieberman for the race baiting and other gutter tactics that he engaged in on McCain's behalf during the campaign, it's quite another to let the chairmanship of such an important committee, which Lieberman has used for years to prevent Senatorial investigation into no-bid contracts and contractor abuse within the Department of Homeland Security, to serve as an olive branch.

That's an awfully high price for a lot of reasons.

Since its inception, the Department of Homeland Security has been one of the most corruption-riddled arms of the government, able to hide its affairs from the prying eyes of the public under the guise of "national security."   Here's Richard Clarke from his book Your Government Failed You (p. 212):

As soon as it was obvious that a big new federal department was going to be created, the major Defense Department contractors and systems integrators saw a new opportunity, or perhaps a new prey. The contractors are known as "Beltway bandits," because of their elaborate corporate facilities in the Washington suburbs along the Beltway highway and because of their frequent cost overruns on DOD contracts. Suddenly former government officials working for the big contractors were asking to see me and anyone else they knew at the White House. Their purpose was always the same. They had come to explain that they were now the vice president for homeland security of their company. I asked one such visitor, whom I had known for years, "What the hell do you know about homeland security?" Helaughed and admitted, "Nothing, but neither does anyone else."

This has created a mess under the Bush Administration that one could safely predict it would. 

The Department of Homeland Security is requesting a 2009 budget of $50.5 billion dollars.  To put that in perspective, the military budget for Iraq and Afghanistan for 2009 is $200 billion

The budget for Barack Obama's healthcare plan, when fully implemented, is estimated to be between $50-65 billion annually.  (pdf)

We're already being told post-election that we're going to have to dial back our expectations, that Obama's plans might have to be sacrificed during these difficult economic times to the Blue Dog demand for "PayGo" if there's no way too offset them in the federal budget:

President-elect Barack Obama promises a bold energy plan to develop green technology, slash oil imports from unfriendly nations and tax more of the profits of oil companies, but the cost of the Wall Street bailout and an expected U.S. recession may impede his efforts.

Obama said as much during the first presidential debate when he said he may have to scale back on his green plan.

"I'm not willing to give up the need to do it, but there may be individual components of it that we can't do," he said.

So where's the money going to come from?

Well, the House has a Committee on Homeland Security too, and its Subcommittee on Management, Investigations, and Oversight recently found $15 billion worth of waste in 11 Department of Homeland Security  programs --  for "projects ranging from airport baggage-screening to trailers for Hurricane Katrina evacuees."

Lieberman, many will recall, was responsible for holding hearings into the government's response to Hurricane Katrina.  But after winning his 2006 election with the help of the GOP, he decided it would be too "divisive" and refused to do so.

Good governance is going to be about more than passing new legislation, it's going to be about cleaning up the mess that has been made over the past 8 years.  It's going to be about weeding out the graft and greed and corruption that has caused American taxpayers to foot the bill for outrageous deficits.  The military industrial complex has been bilking the Pentagon and the Department of Homeland Security with no-bid contracts for things nobody needs that we're not allowed to know about for years now.    The only way we're going to find out about these abuses, and right then, is if our elected officials accept that responsibility.

Not only is Joe Lieberman not doing that job, as Chairman of the Department of Homeland Security Committee he's keeping anyone else from doing it.  He happily allowed a seat on the Homeland Security Advisory Council to be doled out as political patronage to a corrupt Bush Pioneer.  He has no interest in cleaning up the mess he helped to make. 

Is his continued happiness worth the cost of healthcare?  Of the environment?  Of putting Americans back to work?  Of reducing our dependence on oil and getting the economy back on its feet?

Allowing Lieberman to retain control of a committee where he has done nothing but suppress meaningful oversight is going to be an awfully bitter pill to swallow when we're told that the price of "change" we all thought we were voting for is going to be too high.

Call Democratic Senators and tell them -- Just Say No to Joe.

Sign the petition -- Joe Must Go.