Obama Wants Lieberman to Stay ... But at What Cost?

It's one thing for Obama to forgive Lieberman for his attacks; it's quite another to offer his Homeland Security chairmanship as an olive branch.

Budget of the United States Government, Fiscal Year 2009.

According to Greg Sargent, Howard Fineman is reporting 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:
Jane Hamsher is the founder of FireDogLake. Her work has also appeared on the Huffington Post, Alternet and The American Prospect.
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