Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Senatorial response to pork

I finally got a letter back from one of our fine Oregon Senators the other day, in response to my Email to their office detailing my displeasure about the fat they scraped off the top of the barrel for unimportant projects here.

Interestingly, it was a snail mail response to an Email.  I realize that what you are about to read here is obviously a form letter from the Senator’s office, but you’d think that they would have a form Email ready for all those who Emailed them.  And instead of printing on recycled paper, as the note at the bottom reveals, they could print it on NO paper.

    Dear Mr. L’esperance  (ed. Note: they got my name wrong, but at least they remembered the apostrophe)
            Thank you for contacting me with your thoughts regarding the federal budget.  I agree that Congressional oversight of the budget should only support responsible spending.

            With new financial challenges such as rebuilding the Gulf Coast in the wake of Hurricane Katrina, our charge is now to avoid unnecessary additional spending increases and carefully watch new expenditures to ensure they are responsible and affordable.  The current budget deficit is not the largest the United States has ever faced, nor is it unmanageable.  In my years on the Senate Budget Committee I carefully scrutinized the budget and all of its revisions.

            Through smaller government, disciplined spending and continued tax reform, I believe that our economy will continue to expand, enabling us to reduce the deficit and pay down the federal debt, while at the same time lessening the tax burden for America’s families.  Please know that I will always fight to keep taxes low and work to stimulate and sustain a dynamic economy in Oregon and the entire nation.

            As Thomas Jefferson once said, “to preserve the faith of the nation by an exact discharge of its debts and contracts, expend the public money with the same care and economy we would practice with our own, and impose on our citizens no necessary burden…are the landmarks by which we are to guide ourselves in all our proceedings.”

            Thank you again for contacting me regarding spending.  I assure you that I will continue to work for prudent responsible government spending.  It is my hope that you will continue to share your views with me in the future.

    Warm regards,
    Gordon H. Smith
    United States Senate

OK, Gordon.  Working for “smaller government, disciplined spending and continued tax reform” means not earmarking spending for projects that obviously have no value outside of their community, let alone the state of Oregon or the United States.  Most people refer to that as “pork.”

The original idea of a federal government was that it was to provide for the “Common good” not the local good.  Therefore all the spending coming from the federal government should be used for projects that benefit the nation as a whole, and nothing else.  That’s the idea of limited government.

You, as a member of the budget committee, didn’t scrutinize the budget one iota if things like the Bridge to Nowhere, or the sculpture garden in Washington made it through.

And to quote Jefferson when the practice I’ve described above is not expending the public money “with the same care and economy we would practice with our own” is disingenuous at best.  Certainly the budget deficit is not yet out of control, but it doesn’t have to be nearly as big as it is, and how many more pet projects do you need to fund before it does get out of control.

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