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Thread: Cost-Cutters, Except When the Spending Is Back Home

  1. #1
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    Cost-Cutters, Except When the Spending Is Back Home

    [URL="http://http://www.nytimes.com/2011/07/20/us/politics/20freshmen.html?_r=1&hp"]http://http://www.nytimes.com/2011/07/20/us/politics/20freshmen.html?_r=1&hp[/URL]




    [QUOTE]
    WASHINGTON — Freshman House Republicans who rode a wave of voter discontent into office last year vowed to stop out-of-control spending, but that has not stopped several of them from quietly trying to funnel millions of federal dollars into projects back home.

    They have pushed for dozens of projects in their districts, including military programs opposed by the president, replenishing beach sand lost to erosion, a $700 million bridge in Minnesota and a harbor dredging project in Charleston, S.C. Some of their projects were once earmarks, political shorthand for pet projects penciled into spending bills, which Republicans banned when they took over the House.

    An examination of spending bills, news releases and communications with federal agencies obtained under the Freedom of Information Act shows that nearly two dozen freshmen have sought money for projects that could ultimately cost billions of dollars, while calling for less spending and banning pork projects.

    Politicians have long advocated for projects on behalf of individuals and businesses back home, even without earmarks. Several lawmakers said they were merely providing a constituent service. But since many of the freshman Republicans campaigned on a pledge to cut spending and to change Washington’s time-honored ways, their support of spending projects suggests that in many cases ideology can go only so far in serving the needs of people back home.

    Lawmakers like Representative Tim Scott, Republican of South Carolina, who advocated for the harbor dredging project with other members of the South Carolina delegation, insist their requests are neither earmarks nor wasteful. “This was a merit-based project that was open and transparent,” said Mr. Scott, who helped secure $150,000 for the first phase of a harbor-deepening project in Charleston, his hometown. The project is expected eventually to cost as much as $300 million. Mr. Scott, a favorite of the Tea Party movement, said he is opposed to earmarks and that dredging the port was in the national interest because it would accommodate bigger cargo ships and help create trade opportunities and jobs.

    The Obama administration did not agree and did not include the project in the Army Corps of Engineers budget. As a result Mr. Scott and Senator Lindsey Graham, a South Carolina Republican, who tried to earmark financing for the project last year, threatened in April at a news conference in Charleston to tie up the government unless the project was approved. Mr. Graham also pledged to hold up President Obama’s nominees in the Senate. After the threat by Mr. Graham and lobbying by Mr. Scott and other members of South Carolina’s Congressional delegation, the corps agreed to pay for the dredging.

    “Persistence pays off,” Mr. Scott said. “We knew dredging the Port of Charleston was a worthy project, and we were persistent in ensuring that the corps knew that, too.”

    In some cases, freshman support for the financing of projects in their districts have put them in opposition to other members of the Republican Party who are calling for deep spending cuts and the elimination of hundreds of federal programs they consider wasteful.

    Early this year, the Republican Study Committee, a conservative House caucus, opposed a program that replaces sand on the nation’s beaches as one of several wasteful programs, estimating that scrapping the program would save the government about $95 million.

    ”Beach erosion is a natural process, and spending in this area may not be effective,” the group said. “In addition, this spending is more properly the responsibility of states, localities and private landowners.”

    But when the measure to kill the program came up for a vote last February, Representative Jon Runyan, a former professional football player and freshman Republican from New Jersey, opposed it, and it was overwhelmingly defeated. In his news release, Mr. Runyan, who had run a campaign on ending the “fiscal insanity” in Washington, boasted of his efforts in getting continued money for replenishing the sand on the beaches in his district.

    Last year, the Democratic lawmaker whom Mr. Runyan defeated requested more than $20 million in earmarks to replace the sand on New Jersey’s beaches. On Tuesday, Mr. Runyan defended the program. “Beach replenishment projects are vital to protecting New Jersey’s 127 miles of coastline from violent storms,” he said in an e-mailed statement.

    On the Minnesota-Wisconsin border, local officials and members of Congress have pushed for a new four-lane bridge over the St. Croix River that was co-sponsored by Representative Sean P. Duffy, a Wisconsin freshman Republican, and Representative Michele Bachmann, the three-term Minnesota Republican who is running for president.

    Opponents labeled the bridge an earmark, but Mr. Duffy and Mrs. Bachmann said the bridge was critical to handle increased traffic that an 80-year-old bridge nearby can no longer handle alone. They defend the spending by arguing that it was not an earmark since there were no specific costs listed in the bill itself, nor is it a financing bill. The legislation calls only for a bridge to be built.

    The National Park Service has opposed the project, saying it would violate the Wild and Scenic River Act by harming the river’s scenic and recreational qualities.

    Last March, while the House was drafting the military authorization bill, 22 freshman Republicans wrote a letter to the House leadership requesting more military spending than President Obama had requested.

    Many of the signees included members whose districts have a large military presence or big defense contractors like Representative Steven M. Palazzo, a Mississippi freshman. During his campaign, Mr. Palazzo told voters that he favored banning earmarks, saying it would “help restore the people’s faith in their government.”

    But once in office, Mr. Palazzo voted with other Republicans to slash millions of dollars from the military bill, only to add an amendment later to restore the money. Mr. Palazzo’s amendment put back about $150 million for a combat ship that would be built at Ingalls Shipbuilding in his Pascagoula district. He also secured $10 million to buy land for training facilities for the Army National Guard, and $19.9 million for the ship’s preliminary design and feasibility studies. Several of these programs were earmarks of Mr. Palazzo’s Democratic predecessor.

    “I am glad to be able to help ensure the long-term viability of our shipbuilding industry and the thousands of craftsmen that build the ships,” Mr. Palazzo said in a statement. Asked about the financing, Mr. Palazzo’s press secretary, Hunter Lipscomb, said the programs were not earmarks because the congressman did not request funds for any specific project, but merely to transfer funds to increase spending on the programs. “The way the authorized funding will be spent will be up to the Department of Defense,“ Mr. Lipscomb said.

    Barclay Walsh contributed research.

    [/QUOTE]

  2. #2
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    This is why we have 28,000+ post offices in the country

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    We all know the incredible hypocrisy and blame-shifting that goes on in Washington, as well as every State legislature or local board. The rule is: let's all sacrifice for the good of the country, as long as it's not in my district and not out of my pocket. Anyone who thinks that the appearance of a new bunch of politicians with a catchy name like the Tea Party are really any different than usual is truly naive.

  4. #4
    [QUOTE=long island leprechaun;4064450]We all know the incredible hypocrisy and blame-shifting that goes on in Washington, as well as every State legislature or local board. The rule is: let's all sacrifice for the good of the country, as long as it's not in my district and not out of my pocket. Anyone who thinks that the appearance of a new bunch of politicians with a catchy name like the Tea Party are really any different than usual is truly naive.[/QUOTE]

    In fairness everyone is different until they actually get into office and the demands of their constituency have to be met. That's why we need divided government.

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    [QUOTE=Buster;4064406]This is why we have 28,000+ post offices in the country[/QUOTE]

    AGREED! Thats why I rant about BIG government. It does almost nothing but who in public office is going to push a bill to cut the size of the Dept of Enery, Agriculture or another handfiul of agency's that have accomplished so little.

    It's all about the government employees keeping their cushy jobs while middle class private sector takes it up then a$$.

  6. #6
    [QUOTE=Winstonbiggs;4064453]In fairness everyone is different until they actually get into office and the demands of their constituency have to be met. That's why we need divided government.[/QUOTE]

    When the Republicans took the house and senate and Clinton was Prez we had some great legislation being passed. When the GOP took all three branches we had the drop off that was the Delay-Bush pork barrel congress. They abandoned their principals and promises.

    When the D's took control of all three branches we got Obamacare, The Omnibus wasting package and generally some of the most harmful left wing legislation of our time. A complete disaster. I agree that divided government is generally a good thing.

    Here is the concern. It is clear that Obamacare needs to be repealed. The country hates this harmful partisan legislation that was rammed down our throats. How do we accomplish that without taking the Senate and Presidency back?

  7. #7
    [QUOTE=chiefst2000;4064467]When the Republicans took the house and senate and Clinton was Prez we had some great legislation being passed. When the GOP took all three branches we had the drop off that was the Delay-Bush pork barrel congress. They abandoned their principals and promises.

    When the D's took control of all three branches we got Obamacare, The Omnibus wasting package and generally some of the most harmful left wing legislation of our time. A complete disaster. I agree that divided government is generally a good thing.

    Here is the concern. It is clear that Obamacare needs to be repealed. The country hates this harmful partisan legislation that was rammed down our throats. How do we accomplish that without taking the Senate and Presidency back?[/QUOTE]

    Universal single payer health care highly limited with the option for people to buy private insurance for additional uncovered benifits. Something like that might be able to pass.

  8. #8
    [QUOTE=Winstonbiggs;4064475]Universal single payer health care highly limited with the option for people to buy private insurance for additional uncovered benifits. Something like that might be able to pass.[/QUOTE]

    It seems like a good concept but the realities of government running the healthcare system are too questionable and mysterious to ignore. What are the costs. Who foots the bill. These systems need to be vetted in the states on a smaller scale and studies before the GOVT enacts a sweeping reform.

  9. #9
    [QUOTE=chiefst2000;4064481]It seems like a good concept but the realities of government running the healthcare system are too questionable and mysterious to ignore. What are the costs. Who foots the bill. These systems need to be vetted in the states on a smaller scale and studies before the GOVT enacts a sweeping reform.[/QUOTE]

    Not questionable at all. Look at the VA system. Much more efficient than the private sector and study after study in the peer reviewed literature shows that it is also superior quality care.

  10. #10
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    [QUOTE=chiefst2000;4064467]When the Republicans took the house and senate and Clinton was Prez we had some great legislation being passed. When the GOP took all three branches we had the drop off that was the Delay-Bush pork barrel congress. They abandoned their principals and promises.

    When the D's took control of all three branches we got Obamacare, The Omnibus wasting package and generally some of the most harmful left wing legislation of our time. A complete disaster. I agree that divided government is generally a good thing.

    Here is the concern. It is clear that Obamacare needs to be repealed. The country hates this harmful partisan legislation that was rammed down our throats. How do we accomplish that without taking the Senate and Presidency back?[/QUOTE]

    I believe the polls show that the people of Massachusetts like their health care plan

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    [QUOTE=southparkcpa;4064464]AGREED! Thats why I rant about BIG government. It does almost nothing but who in public office is going to push a bill to cut the size of the Dept of Enery, Agriculture or another handfiul of agency's that have accomplished so little.

    It's all about the government employees keeping their cushy jobs while middle class private sector takes it up then a$$.[/QUOTE]


    You are accusing Tea Party congressmen of protecting government employees so they can keep their cushy jobs?

  12. #12
    [QUOTE=Buster;4064638]I believe the polls show that the people of Massachusetts like their health care plan[/QUOTE]

    Wow? Really?

    [I]From 2009 Rassmussen Poll:

    Massachusetts: 26% Consider State’s Health Care Reform a Success
    Monday, June 29, 2009 Email to a Friend ShareThis
    Twenty-six percent (26%) of Massachusetts voters say their state’s health care reform effort has been a success. A new Rasmussen Reports telephone survey in the state finds that 37% say the reform effort has been a failure, while another 37% are not sure.[/I]

    Now a more recent poll from 2011:

    [I]Massachusetts poll: 38% think RomneyCare is working, 49% think it isn’t
    While Obama is still personally popular in Massachusetts, recording a 57 percent favorable and 35 percent unfavorable rating, Hillary Clinton lit up the favorability list of politicians with a 74 percent favorable rating and a 19 percent unfavorable rating. This is a continuing trend previously seen in state polls taken by Suffolk University in 2010, where Clinton led Obama in favorability by at least 10 points in Connecticut, Florida, Nevada, Ohio and Pennsylvania.

    Massachusetts health care was seen as working by 38 percent of registered voters, while just under half (49 percent) said it is not working, and 13 percent were undecided. Asked if Mitt Romney’s role in health care here would help or hurt his presidential campaign, 54 percent of voters said it would hurt; 22 percent felt it would help; and 22 percent were undecided.
    [/I]

    Interestingly i researched this and found some other polls that were quite the opposite. Even one as high as 85% satisfaction rates. Seemed odd to me as Rassmussen is almost always right on point when it comes to polling. That was until i read the fine print. The big positive results came when they polled people that were on the subsidized plan. In plain english it means they asked the folks that were getting the free coverage if they liked it. Most said yes, LOL. No kidding. I like free stuff too.

  13. #13
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    [QUOTE=southparkcpa;4064464]AGREED! Thats why I rant about BIG government. It does almost nothing but who in public office is going to push a bill to cut the size of the Dept of Enery, Agriculture or another handfiul of agency's that have accomplished so little.

    It's all about the government employees keeping their cushy jobs while middle class private sector takes it up then a$$.[/QUOTE]

    So why can't this country find common ground, CPA? I'm a "flaming" lib...but I also think the post office is dumb and needs to be dropped down to 3 - 5 days a week. Only old people go there. I have yet to find something that I can't do online and need to do via snail mail. I can send emails, documents and *gasp* even X-mas presents for family who live thousands of miles away.

    Same with public schools. I think it's a tad off base to single out teachers in particular...but what about admin and the overbearing overhead? Erie county NY has something like 23 school districts. Consolidate that sh*t. And it doesn't have to come at the expense of the teachers themselves. Does Erie County really need 23 school superintendents...all making 120k + a year?!

    You see...it's common ground sh*t like this that people from both parties can agree on...but it's all lost in the "fog" of partisan politics. It's a f*cking shame....or sham. :nono:

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    [QUOTE=PlumberKhan;4064698]So why can't this country find common ground, CPA? I'm a "flaming" lib...but I also think the post office is dumb and needs to be dropped down to 3 - 5 days a week. Only old people go there. I have yet to find something that I can't do online and need to do via snail mail. I can send emails, documents and *gasp* even X-mas presents for family who live thousands of miles away.

    Same with public schools. I think it's a tad off base to single out teachers in particular...but what about admin and the overbearing overhead? Erie county NY has something like 23 school districts. Consolidate that sh*t. And it doesn't have to come at the expense of the teachers themselves. Does Erie County really need 23 school superintendents...all making 120k + a year?!

    You see...it's common ground sh*t like this that people from both parties can agree on...but it's all lost in the "fog" of partisan politics. It's a f*cking shame....or sham. :nono:[/QUOTE]

    +1

    And even the reason for this thread, I mean honestly, I'm not really going to criticize the Tea Party for this. This is how our system works. Every politician, every party, everybody in Washington DC does this crap. Yes, the Tea Party said they wouldn't just as everyone else who ever ran for anything said they would "cut pork".

    If I have a problem with the Tea Party, it's not because of this. This is politics and all politicians do this kind of crap. If we want to eliminate it, perhaps a combination of campaign finance reform and a form of the Line Item Veto would help minimize it - but I don't think it will ever disappear.

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    [QUOTE=southparkcpa;4064464]AGREED! Thats why I rant about BIG government. It does almost nothing but who in public office is going to push a bill to cut the size of the Dept of Enery, Agriculture or another handfiul of agency's that have accomplished so little.

    It's all about the government employees keeping their cushy jobs while middle class private sector takes it up then a$$.[/QUOTE]

    By any chance, did a postman bite your dog?

    ;)

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    [QUOTE=SafetyBlitz;4064705]+1

    And even the reason for this thread, I mean honestly, I'm not really going to criticize the Tea Party for this. This is how our system works. Every politician, every party, everybody in Washington DC does this crap. Yes, the Tea Party said they wouldn't just as everyone else who ever ran for anything said they would "cut pork".

    If I have a problem with the Tea Party, it's not because of this. This is politics and all politicians do this kind of crap. If we want to eliminate it, perhaps a combination of campaign finance reform and a form of the Line Item Veto would help minimize it - but I don't think it will ever disappear.[/QUOTE]

    The Tea Party is like a Pentacostal minister who cheats on his wife. If you claim to hold a holier than thou set of principles when you violate them it's even more contemptible. Especially as you're condemning those who commit adultery as mortal sinners. It's disgraceful.

  17. #17
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    [QUOTE=Buster;4064645]You are accusing Tea Party congressmen of protecting government employees so they can keep their cushy jobs?[/QUOTE]

    My point is...no politician (Any Politician) wants to sign off when jobs will be lost. It is political suicide. Even useless employees that are abundant in government. Why??? It aint their money.
    Last edited by southparkcpa; 07-20-2011 at 07:31 PM.

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