Kline’s Principle

by Dave Mindeman

I have talked extensively about how John Kline’s stand on not making any district requests (or requesting earmarks in his vernacular) is a detriment to the district. In response to a guest blog post which talked about the same thing, a commenter said this:

If you don’t like Congress spending Minnesotans’ money in other states, then stop Congress from spending Minnesotans (and everybody else’s) money on things that benefit only one particular state. Sort of like Congressman Kline does by refusing earmarks, and as all Republicans in Congress have now agreed to do. It’s a start.

So, I posed a question in a comment response a few days ago, it went like this:

Serious question. How does Kline stop Minnesotans Fed tax money from being spent in other states by refusing to sponsor requests (or his term “earmarks”) for his district? I wish to hear somebody answer that..seriously.

Another conservative answered that question:

Maybe for Kline it is a matter of right and wrong. Sometimes it boils down to simply doing the right thing because it’s the right principle to follow. Cultural change is difficult. Kline can’t stop the earmarks of others. But he can provide the right example to follow. As your blog and many others point out, those that are sponsoring the earmarks are feeling the heat because of those taking a stand for what is right. Thanks for pointing out Kline’s principled stand.

Let’s break this answer down.

A. Right and wrong. So I guess were are to assume that Kline thinks it is wrong to request Federal money for his district. Wrong? How did we get the idea that because a few Congressional people abused the sytem, ALL requests are wrong. Where did that come from? We still need to fix bridges. We still have roads that need better interchanges. We still have flood control projects that need attention. What is wrong about them?

B. Cultural change is difficult. You know there might be some cultural issue with how Congress goes about its business. But most of the problem lies in transparency. If the truth were brought forward, we would know that the Democrats have required that sponsors make their requests public. Rep. Tim Walz carries it even furthur in asking constituents to give input on what they feel are important district projects. Now to me, Walz is following the right kind of principle in this regard. Honestly, I think that if the Republicans were to gain back control of the House, we would see them revert back to what they did prior to 2006. The time when most of the abuse happened and the period that still holds the record for most earmark requests. The cultural change has already begun — but we still have more work to do as 59% of requests are still buried anonymously in the Defense Dept appropriation.

C. Right example to follow. Yea, Kline is providing an example. An example of how to represent your district badly. All the Republicans are making no requests this year. A one year moratorium. Problem is — the Senate has made no such promise and the GOP representatives can still circumvent this “moratorium” by working with their state senators. As usual, Republican principles in this case is the same old house of cards. And besides, I guarantee you, if the GOP reclaims the House, earmarks are back in town.

D.  Sponsors feeling the heat. Exactly what kind of evidence is there for that statement. What heat? There is a general anger about Federal spending, but when it comes to specific district projects, where is the cry to send it all back? Did we hear anybody object to the new I-35 bridge appropriation? What about the Hastings bridge? Hear anybody saying, let’s forget about it on “principle”? No, sorry, this heat is just more hot air.

So, back to my original question:

How does Kline stop Minnesotans Fed tax money from being spent in other states by refusing to sponsor requests?

The answer continues to be the obvious. He can’t. He never could. It is a political game that Kline continues to play. He is saving no taxes, he is stopping no spending. He is just simply abdicating his job as a Representative.

I have yet to hear anyone refute that with any authority.

Cross posted at mnpACT

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