Friday, February 26, 2010

Hurting America for Pork

I think the pork issue is generally over-rated. It's not that I particularly care for random unnecessary pet projects sprouting up across the United States; it's that these projects are a relatively insignificant part of the federal budget, and thus "opposing" them (usually by Senators themselves shoulder-deep in the trough) is an easy way to sound fiscally diligent without actually doing anything about it.

But I do get annoyed when Senators and Representatives actively threaten the national security of the nation simply to point jobs towards their district. Senator Richard Shelby (R-AL), on the other hand, is proud to be doing just that:
In his first television interview on the subject since then, the lawmaker admitted he put a near-blanket hold on 47 Obama nominees for a simple reason. "Well, I did it to get the attention of the administration," Shelby said.
Shelby is remarkably candid about the reasons for his controversial action. At a time when bringing home the bacon makes for some unappetizing politics, he unapologetically explains that he is just trying to put money and jobs into his home state.

"Ultimately, I am a senator from Alabama. I wanted to make sure there was fairness because if there was fairness, the jobs would go there," Shelby said.

He eventually lifted his hold on all but three nominees for senior Air Force positions.

Morrell, the Pentagon spokesman, said those vacancies "adversely affect the organization."

"Without these highly qualified professionals, we are not firing on all cylinders," Morrell said.

Shelby admits that issue doesn't really much matter to him. When asked about the qualifications of nominees he held up, Shelby replied, "Oh, I don't have any idea."

He openly concedes he is blocking them for one reason: leverage. "That's part of the life up here," he said.

Because this is an article written by the media, there is the requisite shot at Barack Obama, who placed a hold on Hans von Spakovsky when he was nominated to the FEC. Notably, they don't give any quotes from Obama, but simply ask von Spakovsky what he thought about the hold. And while he tries to play the martyr, he gets at an important distinction: Obama opposed von Spakovsky himself, on the merits of his nomination. And why not? Von Spakovsky's main claim to fame is as an expert at voter suppression -- not exactly what you want to see on the Federal Elections Commission. Maybe he could tag-team with Robert Mugabe.

In any event, Senator Shelby's holds had nothing to do with the nominees' policies, or indeed, about the nominees themselves. It was simply a power play to try and bring jobs to his district.

1 comment:

j said...

This sort of thing is only exacerbated by the rampant unfair representation enshrined in our beloved constitution.