Stink Bugs, Christmas Trees or Pell Grants – What Will GOP Cut ?

When John Kline (R-MN-02) went on his “pork-free” diet, he made earmarks a central part of his election campaign strategy … citing projects like — $211,509 for olive fruit fly research in Paris (The Olive Fruit Fly is the world’s most disastrous olive pest and has infested thousands of acres of California’s olive groves.)

Mr. Kline’s “pork-free” election strategy was so successful that it became the GOP strategy to retake control of the House.
For example, Roscoe Bartlett (R-MD-06) criticized the FY 2009 Omnibus Appropriations bill – a spending bill Democrats wanted to “ram through Congress“ stating : “It’s more than a little selfish to try to solve the economic problems we created by burdening future unborn generations.”
Mr. Bartlett advocated during the 2010 election campaign that he opposed federal funding for the Department of Education and Department of Agriculture while supporting oversight of the Defense Department as part of a pledge to reduce spending to 2007 levels. Stop-the-Waste-in-Government Representative Bartlett failed to mention that he had spent his time pushing for legislation to produce an unwanted, second jet engine for the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter using a separate engine manufacturer, Rolls Royce, who gratefully provided Mr. Bartlett thousands of dollars in contributions to push this through the House.
NOTE : Mr. Kline serves with Mr. Bartlett on the House Armed Services Committee and Mr. Kline also supported the building a second engine that the Department of Defense has repeatedly stated it does not want or need.

So, now that the House is firmly in Republican control, the Stop-the-Waste-in-Government Republican majority surely has attacked those pesky little insects …. Right ?

Now, admittedly, the House GOP has had other pressing issues other than those pesky little insects … just last week, they passed legislation affecting federal funding and abortions … for the seventh time this year.

But the Republican Study Committee identified $2.5 Trillion that could be saved … in fairly good detail — Corporation for Public Broadcasting subsidies, AMTRAK subsidies, Mohair subsidies, etc.

Surely, the House GOP would have taken care of all those pesky little insects … Right ?

Well … the olive fruit fly is not “the bug from hell” and Congress has a man taking on that “bug from hell” issue :

Rep. Roscoe Bartlett announced on Friday a Agriculture Department grant. The Maryland Republican has taken a leading role in pursuing solutions to what he calls “the bug from hell.” The federal government is committing $5.7 million toward non-chemical defenses against the brown marmorated stink bug.

Yes, the Brown Marmorated Stink Bug’s days are numbered.

And the money is coming from the US Department of Agriculture Specialty Crop block grants program … yep, that same Department of Agriculture that Mr. Bartlett wants to shut down.
Funny, but if you look through the proposed cuts offered by the Republican Study Committee … the US Department of Agriculture Specialty Crop block grants is not apparent.
Hmmm …. Could it be that because all 50 states get some grants ?

In fact, funding related to the Brown Marmorated Stink Bug will be going to Arkansas, Iowa, Michigan, Montana, New York, Utah, Virginia, West Virginia … and yes, Minnesota.

Hmmm … anyone surprised that Michigan is on the list is probably unaware of the clout the state enjoys … Agriculture interests in Michigan have lobbied Fred Upton (R-MI-06) and Dave Camp (R-MI-04) hard. Both Camp and Upton serve on the “Super-committee” created to address the National Debt. Mr. Upton is the Chairman of the Energy and Commerce Committee while Mr. Camp is the chairman of the Ways and Means Committee …. in addition, Mike Rogers (R-MI-08) is the Chairman of the House Intelligence Committee.
And how did Michigan fare on the US Department of Agriculture Specialty Crop block grants … pretty well … 25 projects totaling $1,352,337.25 including a $75,000 grant to promote poinsettias and Christmas trees in a new campaign to “Make it a Real Michigan Christmas.” Currently, Michigan ranks third in the U.S. in the number of Christmas trees harvested and seventh in poinsettia production — 2.3 million plants were grown in 2010.

In the old days, “earmarks” could be voted on … today, Members of Congress just write letters telling others what to do. In the old days, “earmarks” rarely failed to be approved … routinely Republicans overwhelmingly supported projects (unless they were offered by John Murtha, Charles Rangel or Barney Frank) … now they hide behind letters.

OK, so Congress has no problem funding Stink Bugs and Christmas trees … but where will the monies come from to address the fiscal imbalance that we are facing ?

Well, John Kline has the answer … Mr. Kline has penned a letter to the Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction in which he states “Our committee did not take formal action on proposed changes but as chairman, I appreciate the opportunity to submit guidance” … (in other words, I did not talk to the Democrat members, but here is what you should do) … CUT PELL GRANTS.

Oh, Mr. Bartlett must be happy … cutting a Federal Education program while using Federal monies from another program that he champions.

Memo to those that feel they are TaxEnoughAlready : You’ve been snookered.

No doubt the country has serious fiscal issues, but the Republican priorities are Shortchanging Our Future.

For the record, Minnesota Department of Agriculture has been awarded $738,767.32 for eleven projects :
– Partner with Minnesota Fruit and Vegetable Growers Association to increase the adoption of Good Agricultural Practices (GAPs) through workshops and demonstration audits in an effort to improve food safety.
– Partner with Minnesota Grown Promotion Group, Inc. to improve efficiency and reduce costs of distribution systems through the development of a mobile phone friendly version of the online Minnesota Grown Directory systems for the more than 1,100 specialty crop producers that are licensed to use the trademarked Minnesota Grown logo.
– Partner with the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy to create new selling opportunities for Minnesota growers of fresh fruits and vegetable by addressing key barriers in the burgeoning K-12 school marketplace.
– Partner with Minnesota Nursery and Landscape Association to promote and increase sales of Minnesota Grown regionally adapted landscape plants and trees.
– Partner with Minnesota Turf Seed Council to introduce and market fine fescue grass seed into Minnesota in an effort to provide a reduced input grass variety that has economic benefits for growers and consumers alike.
– Enhance the competitiveness of specialty crops by continuing to develop and deliver workshops and seminars to improve the financial management literacy of specialty crop growers.
– Partner with University of Minnesota to reduce the barriers that separate specialty crop growers from school nutrition programs by educating consumers about locally grown specialty crops and creating incentives for school programs to serve more Minnesota specialty crops.
– Partner with Minnesota Farmers’ Market Association to conduct a Farmers’ Market Manager Certificate Program to address the legalities and complexity of operating a sustainable farmers’ market. Matching funds will be utilized to cover expenditures for non-specialty crop commodities.
– Prepare Minnesota fruit and vegetable growers for management of the brown marmorated stink bug by conducting field and laboratory research and disseminating research results to growers through presentations at grower meetings and field days as well as via on-line and printed fact sheets.
– Partner with North Dakota Department of Agriculture and the University of Minnesota to help develop nitrogen management practices in Minnesota and North Dakota to reduce Acrylamide levels in processed potato producers.
– Perform pre-award and post-award activities to administer Specialty Crop Block Grant Program funding and ensure that the State Agency and sub-awardees abide by Federal and State requirements and regulations.

YES, we have problems … we need a Congress that can PRIORITIZE spending … cutting Pell Grants will just shortchange our future.

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