Thursday, September 20, 2007

Fighting and uphilll battle for fiscal discipline in the Senate

Time calls them "The Senate's G.O.P. Bomb Throwers"
I don't think that's an apt description, but Senators DeMint and Coburn are doing their best to bring the issue up.

Senator Tom Coburn spent a good part of last Wednesday trying to stop the federal government from building bike paths. He wanted to redirect the $12 million allotted for them to shoring up U.S. bridges following the collapse of a highway bridge in Minneapolis that killed 13 people. The amendment failed 80-18. Undeterred, Coburn, an Oklahoma Republican, immediately introduced his second amendment of the day: a motion to suspend all earmarks — or pet projects often attached in secret to funding bills — until structural integrity of all U.S. bridges can be verified. There were $2 billion in earmarks in the bill, which, if passed, will fund the Transportation Department next year; the amendment failed 82-14. That same day Senator Jim DeMint, a South Carolina Republican, added his own amendment to suspend a rule that requires the government to use unionized workers to make emergency repairs to bridges, which DeMint says raises the cost by as much as 35%. That amendment also failed, 56-37.
What really bothered me was this little section discussing what the "bomb-throwers" are doing with Trent Lott.
Along the way DeMint and Coburn have angered the leadership of both parties and a lot of Senators. Senator Trent Lott, the No. 2 Republican in the Senate, was so incensed at the role they played in killing the immigration bill that he revoked the $7,500 in funds they get from the leadership to help maintain their offices (the bulk of their funding, however, comes from fees that Senators pay to be members). While he recognizes what they're trying to do, Lott notes that their talents need to be "channeled in a more constructive way," in a way where their own party isn't taking embarrassing votes. "A lot of their amendments when they're offered don't make a lot of Senators happy," Lott said. "I mean Senators voting for bicycle paths instead of bridge repairs? That's not the smart vote substantively or politically." In other words: Let's address your concerns behind closed doors rather than embarrassing the Senate as a whole with these kind of votes.
So in other words, Senators can't be counted on to do what's right, i.e., prioritize fundamental safety issues ahead of their own pet projects (that are a waste of federal money anyway). They don't want high profile votes on those issues because it makes them look bad politically...THAT'S THE POINT!

If senators like Lott can't be counted on to do their jobs instead of line their pockets then they need to be embarrassed into doing so or find another gig. I'm sure Lott wonders why the GOP is in the minority again in Congress. Tone deaf. Dolt.