Posted: 01/11/08 02:48, Edited: 01/11/08 02:49
by Dave Mindeman
Here is an excerpt from a Star Tribune South Metro article about John Kline:
In a visit with the Scott County board, (Kline) defended his decision to no longer seek special funding for pet projects -- even those that benefit his district. Board members offered sympathy, but they also voiced frustration.
John Kline has stated this position as one of "principle". I have a serious problem with that description.
First of all, Kline's real position is that he is not going to represent the people of Minnesota's 2nd District. Kline is stating that he is not only against "pork barrel spending".... he is against all earmarks in general. There is a difference as Steve Sarvi rightly points out.
When we pay at the gas pump (I mean really pay...), we are also paying a state gas tax and a federal gas tax. The Federal portion of the gas tax heads to Congress and they decide how it gets divided among the states. Those decisions can be based on each District's Representative making a case for projects in their own district. Sometimes seniority gets priority, but every Congressperson can still make the case....except ours. That money will still be spent somewhere.... just not here.
Please notice that Rep. Kline's principled stand does not include a gas tax cut or a gas tax rebate, nor does it stop anyone else from making use of that money. His "principle" result, is that he is not going to allow any of that money to come back to Minnesota for needed projects.
The job of a district representative is to advocate. If our district needs something... a representative should be willing to make a case for that need with the larger body.
Some earmarks are bad...yes. But as a blogger for the Sunlight Foundation puts it:
Our solution is not to do away with earmarks but to disclose them, with lawmakers' names attached. Then we can ask questions and maybe, we can get some answers. Disclosure will force lawmakers to be accountable for their actions. And that's a very good thing.
Earmarks are still necessary. It's the disclosure that is the issue. During the Republican reign as the majority party in the House, the use of "secret" earmarking ran rampant. After all, if an earmark got into a bill and nobody was publicly responsible for putting it there, we have no accountability.
When President Dwight Eisenhower proposed the first national highway bill in the 1950s, there were two projects singled out for specific funding. In August 2005, when Congress passed a six year, $286.4 billion Transportation Bill, there were 6,371 earmarks,
Hmmmm.... 2005; The House had a Republican majority then and John Kline was present. Apparently his principles weren't. Those 6,000+ earmarks didn't have to show who was responsible for putting them in the bill.
In all, there were roughly 15,000 congressional earmarks in 2005 budget bills, at a total cost of $47 billion. The 2008 budget bill, whlich Cong. Kline criticizes so loudly, has about 12,000 earmarks. with an estimated value of $15.3 billion. But one other big difference... all Congressional sponsors must assign their names to their requests. In that manner, we can gauge what kind of influence various groups may have on the "ear" of their Congressman.
Maybe Congressman Kline thinks every extra budget request is wasteful. But 2nd District citizens still dutifully pay their gas taxes and income taxes and excise taxes.... we just seem to have a Congressman who is going to let our money finance somebody else's project.