So, I was watching Anderson Cooper 360 tonight on CNN and proceeded to listen to what has to be the 100th story in the past couple weeks that makes we want to smack the living crap out of some of our Congressmen or Senators. I’ve been getting more interested in politics during the past year, mostly because I feel so outraged in how our government spends money. I’m scared, really scared, that our country is going to face some serious financial issues in the not so distant future if we don’t stop spending way more than we take in. I’m not talking about the current funk that we’re in; I’m talking about something way WAY worse. I’m not an economist, but I just don’t see a way we can continue to spend more money than we take in, at a faster and faster rate, without repercussions.
Anyway, the story that I heard tonight is the epitome of the problem. This Republican congressman (Hal Rogers) out of a district in Kentucky was just appointed the GOP Chairman of the House Appropriations Committee. Why is this important? Well, the House Appropriations Committee is “In charge of setting the specific expenditures of money by the government of the United States” (Wikipedia). Basically this committee decides how our tax dollars are spent.
Congressman Rogers made a statement today after he was appointed to this position: “It is painfully clear that folks in Washington need to get their hands dirty. It’s time to grab a big shovel with a sharp blade to start digging ourselves out of this nearly $14 trillion mess.” While it sounds noble, I think he needs to save that shovel for the bullshit. Here is why:
Over the past 3 years Rogers secured earmarks worth over $250 million. This was reported by LegisStorm, a nonpartisan congressional watchdog group.
Congressman Rogers is from a small town in Kentucky named Somerset. Somerset, KY is a town of a whopping 11,000 people which is referred to as Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood.
– Congressman Rogers appropriated $17 million in federal dollars for the local airport. An airport that gets such little traffic that the last commercial airline pulled out this February. I guess the money was worth it to make traveling convenient for him to head home.
– Congressman Rodgers had $52 million appropriated for the National Center of Hometown Security – in his hometown.
– Congressman Rodgers had a road renamed after him called the Hal Rodgers Parkway.
Now for my favorite…. Congressman Rodgers passed a $5 million measure for conservation groups that work with endangered wild cats, in other words cheetahs. Are there cheetahs in Kentucky? No. However, it turns out that Congressman Rodgers’ daughter works for one of the few groups eligible to spend this money, the Namibia-based Cheetah Conservation Fund. Of course when the congressman was asked to comment about this he said he “sees no conflict of interest”.
This is the type of crap that goes on in Washington, DC. So, I’m asking, when are we going to eliminate the concept of earmarks? When are we going to balance the budget? When are we going to hold our Congressman and Senators accountable?