It’s becoming quite clear that Denny Rehberg, concerned that having named a few post offices might not be enough of a resume for a Senatorial bid, is determined to ride his newfound opposition to earmarks as long a compliant media and complacent public let him get away with it. Following his most recent effort to get in the news for having done nothing, a letter to Senators Tester and Baucus, Senator Baucus responded (headings mine):
But Didn’t You Support Earmarks?
So-called earmarks have been responsible for vital projects to bring jobs, infrastructure and resources to Montana, including the following, which you sponsored or supported:
- * The Montana State University Animal BioScience Facility;
- MT Secondary Highway 323 from Ekalaka to Alzada;
- The Fort Peck-Dry Prairie Rural Water System; and
- The Rocky Boy’s North Central Montana Regional Water System
And You’re a Dishonest, Cynical Opportunist
As you said once yourself, “Earmarks are not the problem. They direct money that already exists within the program to a particular area, because who knows their district more than we do? That’s our opportunity to make our argument to our colleagues. It doesn’t add to the budget.” (Great Falls Tribune, December 28, 2009)
An honest discussion about our mutual concern over the federal deficit must bear in mind that, as the New York Times recently reported (November 17, 2010), only 0.3 percent of the government’s budget comes from earmarks.
How About Doing Some Real Work?
I urge you to join me in this effort to avoid the distractions of political stunts and find real solutions to bring good-paying jobs to Montana and get our economy moving again.
How about it, media? How about asking Representative Rehberg where the real cuts will have to come to pay for the extension of tax cuts for millionaires? If earmarks vanished tomorrow, it will not only have no impact on the deficit, but it will also do real damage to sparsely-populated states like Montana, the people Rehberg was elected to represent.