Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Chris Hackett for Congress, a guest post

This was in the Times-Leader a few days ago but I'll take sloppy seconds. Any candidate for any office is welcome to post on my front page.

Rep. Carney's spending politics as usual
-Times Leader 1/24/2008

Recently, our local congressman, Chris Carney, was featured on the front page of USA Today. Why did he win such attention? Evidently, Carney received more spending earmarks than any other first year member of congress. He was proud of this dubious “achievement.” The taxpayers of northeast Pennsylvania shouldn’t be.

Here’s how the pork spending game works in Washington . Each congressman asks the Democratic leadership for “earmarked” money for projects back in their home district. Incumbents like Carney who expect tough reelection races get the most earmarks. Then each congressman can try to impress voters by bragging about the funding they “brought home.” Sounds good so far, but there’s a catch – and it’s a really big one.

In order to get that very modest level of funding for local projects, Carney had to vote in favor of projects everywhere else. Here’s a small sample of things Carney voted to waste our tax dollars on this year: rodent control in Alaska ; olive fruit fly research in France ; a bike trail in Minnesota ; a zoo in Illinois ; a post office museum in Las Vegas . Altogether there were some 9,000 earmarks in this year’s spending bills, and we ended up spending $28 billion more than in the President’s budget. While this pork spending game makes for nice press releases from Congressman Carney’s office, it’s a terrible rip-off for taxpayers.

In addition to spending Pennsylvania tax dollars on wasteful and unnecessary projects like the Mule and Packers Museum in California , Chris Carney’s approach to Washington deal making illustrates other fundamental problems with our nation’s finances. When there are 9,000 pork projects in the budget, and almost every congressman has a tiny piece of the action, the system creates all the wrong incentives. It’s set-up in a way that encourages accounting gimmicks, budget secrecy, and misallocation of resources. In short, it places special interests over the national interest, and it’s placing our children and grandchildren further into debt.

Unfortunately, the pork spending game is a bipartisan affair. When Republicans were in charge of Congress, they had a disgraceful record of funding things like the infamous Bridge to Nowhere in Alaska – a $200 million project that served a town of just fifty people. Several corruption scandals were linked directly to the earmarking process, and there are former congressmen who are now serving time in prison because of it.

In 2006, many Democrats, including Chris Carney, were elected based on promises to change the way Washington operated, and in particular to change the corrupt earmarking process. When Speaker Nancy Pelosi rams a massively bloated spending bill through the House with 9,000 earmarks in it, it’s obvious that nothing has changed.

Not all earmarks are wasteful, and not every project is tinged with corruption. But how can you tell which ones are which? For example, liberal Congressman Charlie Rangel from Harlem , the powerful Chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, has a $2 million earmark this year that names a building in honor of himself. That’s right – apparently once you’ve been in Washington long enough it no longer strikes you as arrogant to use tax dollars to name a building after yourself. Outrageously, Chris Carney voted in favor of this pork. What’s our congressman doing spending $2 million in tax dollars on the Charlie Rangel Building in Harlem ? Perhaps Carney thinks that’s a good use of Pennsylvania tax dollars. Perhaps it was a trade-off in exchange for Rangel’s support for Carney’s projects. Or maybe the fact that Rangel’s political committees gave $16,000 to Carney’s election campaign has something to do with it. To be clear, I’m not accusing Carney of corruption. I am saying that after only one year in Washington , Carney has become fully immersed in a system that corruptly and wastefully spends our tax dollars.

It is critical to America ’s financial future that we get off Washington ’s wasteful spending track. The best thing to do is replace pork-spenders like Carney with fiscal conservatives in Congress. But short of that, there’s another thing taxpayers should insist upon. Most pork projects simply don’t pass the smell test. No congressman wants to be clearly on record voting for fruit fly research in France instead of funding for our troops or veterans. Part of Washington’s pork spending game is that the politicians roll together all the pork in one giant bill and tell freshman like Carney that he has to vote for the whole thing in order to get his local projects. If, instead, we switched to a merit-based system, and every pork project was voted on individually, most of them wouldn’t pass. If Chris Carney could achieve that one simple reform of the process, then he would not only deserve to be on the cover of USA Today, he would also deserve the taxpayers’ thanks

-- Chris Hackett is a Republican candidate for Congress in Pennsylvania ’s 10th District


Forrest Gump said...

Chris, cut it out.

I guess when you get to be our congressman you won't ask for any earmarks.

Give me a break.

Chris Carney proves to me that he can play the game better than the rest of the freshman congressmen.

The first thing you need to realize is you are not going to change Washington!!!! It AIN'T gonna happen.

Cudo's to Chris Carney and let's hope he only improves his numbers upon re-election.

Zen said...

Chris Carney is Pelosi's pet. This is why as you put it appears to "play the game" so well.

Anonymous said...

see zen this is where you show how much of a political hack you are. Carney was the most independent Democrat in Congress last year voting only 81% of the time with his party. That being the case he was still able to bring money back to the district to create jobs. More than any other freshman in Congress. He has stood by his values and as a result he has become one of the strongest voices in the democratic party. It's unfortunate the you are blindly loyal to a party and your not seeing the fine job he is doing. I'm happy to be a Republican who supports Carney and I know a whole lot of R's who feel the same way. How about looking at Carney's positions and discussing them instead of throwing mud.

NEPAExpat said...

Earmark to Gentex Helmet Systems: $4 million

Earmark to General Dynamics: $2 million

Earmark to Snake Creek Lasers: $1 million

(Data from http://majorityap.com/carney_cashes_in)

Giving our President flawed Iraq intelligence and a blank check to play Don Quixote: Priceless

There are still some things that money can't buy.

For helping push the dollar towards insolvency, there's Chris Carney.

professor milburn cleaver, opa said...


Zen said...

see anonymous, your post shows what a liberal twit you are. Carney is part of the problem. Old boy politics with a generous helping of pork thrown in have to go. I would be the first to tell you vote for the candidate, not the party. Vote for the candidate that supports the positions that matter to you. Please re-read your post and see who is blindly loyal. Un fortunately, you're blindly loyal to liberal-socialistic ideals.


Unfortunately, the pork issue is an incurable disease that affects even the most sincere freshman in congress. Let's face it, the mass of your constituency may talk a good game about cutting spending, etc. but if a freshman refuses to secure $$$ for his district, the opponents will surface and he will be a one termer. This is plain reality and just plain sad. Mr. Hackett and Mr. Meuser if the stay true to their ideals if one is elected, will fall into the pork trap or be a one termer.

Forrest Gump said...

ZEN, if you are going to solve all the problems then run for office.

Carney is just taking advantage of the system that is in place. After all, he is a freshman in Congress. I believe his record is exemplary as compared to the other freshman.

Again, I say I am not necessarily in favor of pork, but you have to work within the system which you are a part. Everybody talks about reform but nobody ever really does anything, so why not get as much as you can for your constituents.

I would say, don't vote for Carney if he doesn't bring home the pork. That's what politics is all about. You support mine and I'll support yours.

You would be very lonely in Congress and not survive too long if you didn't play ball.

Show me one example of a Congressman, any Congressman, who didn't bring home some type of pork for their district and I'll show you a one term Congressman.

Be realistic, that's all I ask.

Forrest Gump said...

Pope, I guess you type quicker than I do.

Zen said...

In response to Forrest and Pope; You're right but wouldn't it be nice to have politicians that did the right thing for the right reasons. Hell, I doubt that Hackett or Meuser could avoid the trap but a conservative can dream can't he?

As for me running for office, never happen. I would never want my life held up to that scrutiny and I couldn't handle the pay cut. ;-)

Anonymous said...

zen can't handle the heat so he stays out of the kitchen. Politicians would eat soft cheese like him.

I like how if Hackett did get elected, he'd get voted out for not doing enough pork-barreling for his own people. What a joke. This guy doesn't stand a chance.

Zen said...

again anon, put your name out. I never said I was for Hackett. The fact that I know both Chris and Dan isn't relevant to my position. Vote for the guy or gal that represents what you believe in!!! By the way, you are a douche nozzle. Thanks for the attacks, it helps my numbers.

Forrest Gump said...

Zen, finally we agree. In a perfect world your argument is correct. But with the way things are in this country it ain't gonna happen.

I guess we can both keep dreaming.

As a side bar, I have no dog in this fight either, I just hate it when politicans say things about an opponent and then when their elected fall into the same fold.

It's a shame the Chris Hackett may have these ideals, but I'll say it once again, even if he did win, he would only be a term representative if he didn't bring home the bacon, and you can't argue that.

Scott said...

I gotta say, I would prefer a one term Congressman who stayed true to his conservative roots, than someone who knows how to work the system and uses it to amass power and wealth for himself and his causes.

Call me an idealist, a dreamer or whatever you like, but I want to elect someone who is a true conservative and will stick to his guns, no matter what the cost.

"The multiplication of public offices, increase of expense beyond income, growth and entailment of a public debt, are indications soliciting the employment of the pruning knife."- Thomas Jefferson, in a letter to Spencer Roane, March 9, 1821

Time to prune the branches of government of people like Chris Carney, and put in someone who doesn't want to do pork barrel politics.

joe dupont said...

first of all Carney is not all that bad. I have issues with him.
how does one contact mr. hackett?
where is he on computer viruses and spyware, paperless voting
emminent domain, freeing those border guards, ethanol, etc. etc.etc.

Scott said...

USA Today showed Carney was the "Prince of Pork", a moniker he said he wears proudly.

That and the fact that this "Blue Dog" votes with teh dems more than 80% of the time tell me he needs to go.

JD said...

While I certainly admire Mr. Hackett's tenacity and zealousness to rid Washington of all its corrupt practices, there comes a time when reality must set in.

For starters, earmarks make up a tiny fraction of the federal budget. While it easy to bash earmarks because you wont have to face any interest groups in doing so, if you really want to be a "fiscal conservative" and reign in Washington spending you should be focusing on non-discretionary spending such as social security and medicare which will skyrocket in coming years.

Furthermore, as you are running for Congress Mr. Hackett, you should check your information before writing an editorial to the Times Leader. in fiscal year 2008 Congress did not spend $28 billion more than the President requested. Originally Congress intended to spend $23 billion more than the President requested but after a lengthy showdown Democrats backed down and slashed their spending to the President's originally requested funding level. Congress did add funding for veterans programs and other emergency spending but all of it was approved by the Bush Administration and Republicans in Congress. If only the individuals who were running for Congress had a clue what they were talking about, either through personal experience or service to one's nation, and weren't just spitting out talking points. Imagine the possibilities, government might even be effective. If this is the competition, i hope Chris Carney gets re-elected