Go read Western Word’s write up on the issue. Jack says it better than I can.
My only addition is to provide a video of the Bozeman debate from 2006 where Candidate Tester says “Quite frankly I don’t support earmarks, period.” It is at the 9:24 mark, the full question begins around 7:50.
A parting thought, Tester and his supporters will of course claim the thrust of the 2006 debate was on transparency in the process, not the practice itself. I can agree to an extent, even if the quote in the video is unusually direct. However, the transparency push still does not square up with Tester’s current support of legislation like the stimulus which included his port to nowhere.
Once that project finally faced public and government scrutiny 15 months later it was ingloriously scrapped.
After watching the 12/7 press conference on extending the Bush tax package, I can see why President Obama avoiding these events like the plague last year. He simply is not good at them.
It makes no sense, none, that the President would open his remarks about negociating his first real compromise with Republicans by attacking Republicans. It really is needlessly antagonistic. Further, President Obama is outright lying over the Republican position with statements like this;
And I understand the desire for a fight. I’m sympathetic to that. I’m as opposed to the high-end tax cuts today as I’ve been for years. In the long run, we simply can’t afford them. And when they expire in two years, I will fight to end them, just as I suspect the Republican Party may fight to end the middle-class tax cuts that I’ve championed and that they’ve opposed.
The middle-class cuts extended by this deal were proposed and passed under a Republican President and Republican Congress, what basis is there to say they oppose them. Needless antagonism people.
The White House really needs to mature. President Obama came into office with huge majorities in each chamber. Now, largely because of his policy overreach on health care, he lost those historic advantages. It is time to grow up, work across the aisle, and stop the lowering of the Presidency to juvenile taunts and personal attacks on political opponents.
On a lighter note, I saw and then read the transcript to make sure I heard this right, but I got a nice chuckle from the following exchange.
Q Thank you, Mr. President. You’ve been telling the American people all along that you oppose extending the tax cuts for the wealthier Americans. You said that again today. But what you never said was that you oppose the tax cuts, but you’d be willing to go ahead and extend them for a couple years if the politics of the moment demand it.
THE PRESIDENT: Hold on a second, Ben. This isn’t the politics of the moment. This has to do with what can we get done right now.
Since it is close to a holiday I will avoid discussion about the right light bulbs, sorted recycling bins, carbon offsets, etc. What I am happy, elated, and even getting a thrill up my leg about is the imminent doom of what ruined the Hill for me. Biodegradable utensils.
Life on Capitol Hill can be dreary. Long hours, low pay, and most times people only talk to you when they are angry. The only break from this lovely existence was the half-hour trek to the cafeteria to get lunch (which you still ate at your desk…). When dear ole Nancy mandated the change to biodegradable spoons that melted in your bowl of soup, well it was just too much.
Hopefully, the GOP will turn back the clock to the good old days, where you could your meal in peace without fear of vanishing utensils. I get a little misty-eyed just thinking about what a bright day that will be.
Here are a couple unorganized thoughts. First, of the listed candidates, Rehberg is the strongest challenger. My caution with Racicot is he has been away from the scene for 10 years. People and politics change so I think his numbers are a little inflated. By contrast, Rehberg has been in the spotlight for 10 years and people know what he has done, both good and bad, and those opinions are accurately reflected in the numbers. Obviously, Daines is still a relative unknown and as happened with Tester in his run against Burns, if you win the primary in a contested race the support will come so it is meaningless to look at the head to head now.
Next up, I would take all this with a grain of salt. 2010 was a historic environment for conservatives. Coupled with a Presidential election the electorate will be a bit more balanced in turnout two years from now.
A related counter-point is that PPP typically has a D lean. So there is that.
Finally, with Tester polling below 50% against all opponents, the NRSC is going to put this race in their crosshairs regardless of who wins the Republican primary. The money from the NRSC and national groups will ensure Tester’s numbers stay low (the same thing happened in 2005 with Burns) and give R’s a great shot at picking this one up.
One thing I am sure of is that Montana is going to be flooded with political dollars in 2012. A contested Senate race, open Governor’s race, possible open House race (if Rehberg challenges Tester), and a host of down ballot statewide races (AG, SoS, Auditor). Oh and a Presidential election year. Should be a fun cycle.
As an aside my favorite headline from anywhere goes to Swing State Project;
Another part of the Governor’s budget proposal that caught my eye was the transfer of funds out of what amounts to the state earmark pool and putting it into the general fund.
One of Schweitzer’s major proposals would make a one-time transfer to the state general fund of the remaining $18.5 million left in the Treasure State Endowment Program.
This program, funded with coal-tax revenues, has provided state grants to local governments for public works projects.
“We have earmark fatigue in this country and in Montana,” Schweitzer said in an interview.
I am torn on earmarks. I agree with the Governor that we have earmark fatigue. However, I do not think the executive branch a reliable opinion on this topic. Whenever President Obama or Governor Schweitzer advocate for eliminating the earmark process what they are arguing for is giving more power to their offices. Roads will still be built, but instead of those decisions reached by Congress or the legislature it will be under the sole discretion of the bureaucracy.
Moreover, on the federal level, I would rather see entire agencies defunded (I am looking at you Corporation for Public Broadcasting) than going after line-item projects costing 1.6 million in a multi-billion dollar budget. Or maybe go after cost overruns on DoD weapon-systems. There are more effective ways of reducing spending than the relative small potatos that make up earmarks.
However, the system does need reform. Spending millions on protecting mice in San Fran, rainforests in Iowa, or using federal dollars for rubber-tiled tennis courts in Bozeman cannot continue. Maybe a moratorium is necessary to sort this out. I am willing to listen to our legislators, Senators and Congressman hash that out. What I won’t stand for is these barely concealed, self-serving, power grabs coming from the executive branch.
I have been on the road since Thursday and am currently typing this while waiting for my flight in Denver, so apologies for the brevity here.
The Governor released what I say is a terrible, mindbogglingly-unfair, and pernicious attack against Eastern Montana today.
Gov. Brian Schweitzer is proposing to increase funding for all Montana school districts by $38 million a year by redirecting oil and gas tax revenues that now only benefit schools in the few counties where the minerals are produced.
Currently, Helena sucks up around 50% of mineral royalties on oil and natural gas. I have no problem with that as it still gives the producing counties and local school districts enough money to pay for needed infrastructure and facility upgrades. Although I have a beef with the regulations that send any unbudgeted local dollars back to Helena.
Prior to 2003 (when the oil boom first hit), Richland County had a per capita income of $16,006, which is about 175% of federal poverty, the typical cutoff point for Montana’s safety net programs. Think about that, the average resident in the county qualified for government welfare prior to the oil boom.
Now Schweitzer wants to take from the poor to send to the rich out in Missoula. Give.me.a.break.
The oil boom is temporary, not only should this proposal be shot down, buried, and the earth salted; the provision allowing for unspent funds to be sent to Helena should also be removed. These school districts and counties should be allowed to place the revenue in a trust for the future when the oil and gas industry leaves.
Finally, as a historical note, when did Eastern Montana ever get a dime from timber receipts out west? Does anyone think that a federal program similar to Secure Rural Schools will ever exist for these oil towns? Yeah, me neither.
Governor Schweitzer wants to make clear he is not running for President in 2012. I was losing a lot of sleep wondering about that possibility so glad he cleared it up…
I am sure the White House is breathing a sigh of relief as well. With all these stories about a possible primary challenge from the left, the last thing they would want is opposition from the BoloTieCaucus.
Now that Schweitzer has responded to completely baseless rumors saying he would not accept a cabinet position he was never offered, nor is he prepping a Presidential bid that no one outside of Jag would take seriously, what position will he deny gunning for even though no one considers him qualified? I would say the Senate, but he has already ruled that one out…
Hello. So a bit about me, I was born and raised in Sidney, Montana. Since moving away for college I have spent time in Boston, Hawai’i, and Washington, D.C., where I currently reside. I am a former Congressional Aide for Representative Rehberg. I tend to think that experience gave me an informed opinion about what [...]more →