September 28, 2005

PORKBUSTERS UPDATE: Several folks have heard back from their elected representatives. Here are some posts about the responses they got.

Dave Price was impressed with Barack Obama’s response.

Reader Julie Martin-Korb wrote Paul Sarbanes and reports: “Mr. Sarbanes is proud of his spending initiatives, and he is opposed to tax cuts for the wealthy ‘in this time of need,’ but the only sentence in his letter that is even remotely responsive to my request is this: ‘Simultaneously, Congress must continuously review federal spending in order to ensure that our Nation pursues a responsible economic course while providing needed recovery funds.’”

From Rochester, New York, Evan Dawson of 13 WHAM TV News emails:

I’m a reporter for the ABC News affiliate in Rochester, NY, and the pork-for-relief plan was our lead story on Monday, September 19th. Here are quotes and responses from two representatives:

From Rep. Randy Kuhl (R): “Are there some earmarks in the transportation bill that are key to economic development? In this area, with some of the earmarks that I was able to put in, they are. So I would be very hesitant to have them removed, because I think you have to have economic development in this country if you’re going to be able to support hurricane relief.” In other words, he’s not willing to trade in his pork, as it would undermine the country’s capacity to charitably support hurricane recovery efforts.

From Rep. Louise Slaughter (D), when asked about trasnportation bill pork: “A lot of it is frivolous.” However, when pressed regarding her own pork (Slaughter secured, among other things, $1.6 million for the Rochester Art Walk — an outdoor museum), she responded, “Well, we’ll look and see. That is indeed, as you point out — it’s in the transportation bill. We’ll look and see what can be postponed and what can be put off.” But she closed by saying that her first preference is to eliminate “Bush’s tax cuts for the extraordinarily wealthy.”

As a reporter, I take no position on the pork-for-relief proposal. I just wanted to help alert the public as to where their federal representatives stand.

I hope that lots of local media folks will do the same thing. Meanwhile, Matt Duffy continues his ongoing, though largely fruitless, dialogue with Rep. Tom Price of Georgia, and thinks that Price’s office is mostly interested in “slowing down my efforts at getting Price to answer these specific questions.” Gee, d’ya think?

Reader Robert Hahn shares this scintillating response from Rep. Donald Payne:

Thank you very much for your email. I always appreciate the chance to hear from constituents. Your issues are of concern to me; please be assured that I will take your views under consideration. If you haven’t already, please stop by my website at www.house.gov/payne.
Please feel free to email me again, and thank you very much for your letter.

Hahn adds: “I suppose if I get a non-form letter reponse in the next couple of days, I’ll forward that along.” We’ll be waiting!

Maybe for a while. Reader Jim Uren emails: “I emailed [Rep.] Anna Eshoo D-CA five days ago. No response.”

Zachary Rethorn notes that Sen. Mike Dewine is still reviewing proposals.

UPDATE: This column on PorkBusters gets it right: “It may be that only 30% of the items on the Porkbusters wishlist will be cut in, say, the first fiscal year after the Porkbusters campaign begins. That does not preclude another 30% or so being cut the next year. And the year after that as well. And so on. Changing the entitlement culture is an incremental process. But eventually, the small gains can add up and we can achieve a budgetary process that is more fiscally responsible than the one we are currently saddled with. Recognizing this fact will go a long way towards fashioning a successful anti-pork political strategy. And it is not like the political facts on the ground don’t make it easy to cut pork.” Indeed.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Here’s more, from Republican columnist Frank Cagle:

Bush may still be popular with the branch of the Republican Party that only cares about abortion, stem-cell research and displaying the Ten Commandments, but the fiscal-conservative small-government don’t-tread-on-me wing of the party has had enough.

He offers some advice on what the GOP needs to do to avoid disaster, which he sees as otherwise inevitable.

Meanwhile, Carroll Andrew Morse is worried that Katrina reconstruction will turn into pork. I’d say it’s a well-founded concern.

And reader C.J. Burch emails:

I have to admit, I’m surprised more of the fiscally responsible conservatives in the mainstream haven’t signed on to this idea. They certainly should. Why haven’t they? Where’s Robert Novak? Where’s George Will? Have you gotten any help from the folks over at the Corner? How about Fred Barnes and Bill Kristol?

How about ‘em? My sense is that while complaining about corruption and waste and how they doom our society is considered acceptable punditry, attempting to do anything about the problem is seen as hopelessly naive.