By Jack E. Lohman
Interesting that Congressman Jim Sensenbrenner is ranting on the issue of pork barrel projects, for a number of reasons.
First because he, too, has been guilty of pushing through pork projects for Wisconsin interests, and he even votes for everybody else’s pork. And secondly, because he adamently opposes the one change in political ethics that would curtail the practice of government giveaways … campaign finance reform.
Sensenbrenner is my congressman, and was once my favorite. But he has helped perpetuate the cash-and-carry political system that has driven up taxes and sent jobs out of the country.
He voted against the Medicare Prescription Drug Price Negotiation Act of 2007, but of course, he owns several million dollars of stock in the drug industry.
He refused to support a bill by U.S. Rep. Bernie Sanders to mandate that congressmen put their holdings in a blind trust so they can’t vote on legislation that would benefit their private investments. No surprise here. The effort failed.
And of course, he was obviously disturbed enough at the IRS for taking a part of his Kimberly-Clark inheritance that he voted to kill the estate tax.
Not my kind of guy.
It was interesting that he’d present a chart that confirms that the 1994 takeover of Congress by the Neocons escalated the pork barrel projects to what they are today. A disgrace. The only thing missing is an overlay of the campaign contributions politicians have received from the special interests seeking government favors, and that overlay would exactly mirror the growth of government spending and the taxes that result.
Why wouldn’t Sensenbrenner support an electoral system – public funding of campaigns – that would virtually eliminate the government giveaways that amount to $3000 per taxpayer per year? He says “taxes,” and that makes him a big hero. But the cost would be just $10 per taxpayer per year, a bargain at a hundred times the price.
The real reason is power. Political money gives incumbents an overwhelming advantage over challengers. Campaign reform would level the playing field, but the last thing in the world incumbents want is a level playing field. They’re ready, willing and able to destroy our economy and democracy to stay in office, even if staying in office means giving away taxpayer assets.
Or at least that’s what they perceive. Sen. Bill Proxmire did it by spending just $500 on his last two elections, and voting for his people over the special interests. And he kept getting re-elected. Funny how that works.
Sensenbrenner is a “fair weather” fiscal hawk. He will vote against spending bills when his vote isn’t needed to pass, and then rail against it as a hero. But when the chips are down he’ll vote with his party elders, spending money like a drunken sailor.
Only one challenger has emerged, Jim Burkee, and he’s running as a Republican in the September primary. He isn’t real happy with Sensenbrenner either, and if he unseats him he’ll likely face a Democratic challenger. This is not an endorsement, yet, but he’s got to be better than what we have today. I’m waiting to hear more on his positions.
And puzzling is the obvious turning of a blind eye to these government giveaways by conservatives, who rant against high taxes but ignore the corrupt political system that causes them. What is is about money do they not understand?