Saturday, July 29, 2006

Mmmm, tasty government bacon

Rep. Jeff Flake recently pushed 19 amendments to spending bills through the house. These amendments required Congressmen to simply vote yes/no on various pork. A few samplings: Multipurpose facility in Yucaipa, California ($500,000); Juniata Locomotive Demonstration ($1,000,000); National Grape and Wine Initiative ($100,000); Dairy education in Iowa ($229,000); and my personal favorite, “Facilities” in Weirton, West Virginia ($100,000). Yes, that's right, the taxpayers of this country are paying $100,000 to support "facilities." Enough to make your blood boil.

Fortunately, Andy Roth over at the Club for Growth is doing something about it. He's trying to round up 435 bloggers to shed some light on the 435 Congressmen. So, being the civic minded citizen that I am, I'll take on my local Congresscritters, Rep. Terry, Fortenberry, and Osborne.

First up are the two that don't represent me, Rep. Fortenberry (1st District) and Osborne (3rd District). These two "Republicans," which, once upon a time, was the party of fiscal responsibility, both voted "no" on all 19 of the spending bills, which means they voted yes to pork. 19 times. How soon can we get these guys out of office? Of course, I can hear Fortenberry's excuse now, "Buuuuttt I'm just a junior Congressman and the Dems are trying hard to knock me off, and WAAAAAAHHHH!!!!" No excuses, sir. Either you are a fiscal conservative, or you aren't. If you don't have the cajones to vote against pork at least a few times out of 19, how can you honestly say you'll be able to go to the mat for the good people of the 1st District?

As for Rep. Osborne (or "Coach" as he's known around here...shoot me now, please), he also voted no on every single amendment. However, he's a bit different because, after losing the GOP governor's primary, he's retiring from the House this year, leaving the 3rd District seat up for grabs; a prime opportunity for a fiscal conservative to take it. Unfortunately, I have not been following that race like I should, basically because it's in western Nebraska, and no one cares about western Nebraska. But with a bit of digging, I've found that the GOP candidate that won a hard-fought primary and is the one likely to win (the 3rd has been in Republican hands for 31 years) is Adrian Smith, and he was backed by the Club for Growth. So, that's good news I suppose.

Finally, on to my home district. The "fightin' 2nd" is represented by Lee Terry, who voted yes on 10 of the 19, giving him a "score" of 53%. Not bad, not good, but certainly better than his esteemed colleagues. 53% is failing on any test, but remember, we're talking about Congressmen here...the test is curved. A lot. So while 53% isn't bad, I think Congressman Terry can do better. And here's how. Make an effort to return the $19 million in federal money that is going to pay for the bulk of a pedestrian bridge that we're throwing up between Omaha and Counciltucky, or as I like to call it, cheap liquor and strip club capitol of Iowa. As with any frivolous municipal project, the bridge continues to fall behind schedule and is probably going to come in overbudget. I have just one simple question: why should every taxpayer in this country subsidize a bridge that only Omahans and the hicks from across the river are going to use? If the bridge is so grand, so great, and so useful, perhaps Omaha and our lovely Iowan hill brethern should finance the bridge themselves, maybe with some help from their states. And if, as is the case here, the locals start complaining about having to spend any sort of money, why is it an acceptable response to start screaming, "FEDERAL MONEY!!!! FEDERAL MONEY!!!!"?

I don't care that if we don't use the money we lose it. The argument against the money is similar to the one your mother used against stealing a pack of gum with you when you were a child. If everyone did it, there'd be no gum left. If everyone continues to take pork, there will be no federal money left. Which means we get to raise taxes.

Someone has to be first, Rep. Terry.