Tuesday, October 31, 2006

The Price of Pork

Maybe a reader has been trying to convince a swing voter to support Maffei, but that person is reluctant "because CNY cannot lose the money that Walsh brings home". It seems to be a common refrain when I find people on the fence.

So for the record.

  • If Democrats take over the House, the amount of pork Walsh could bring back would be much less.
  • Walsh's 18 years have not transformed the region, and Maffei has good ideas about how better to use federal money.
  • If Dan wins, he would also bring home federal money. All representatives do.
Those are some arguments. But after watching the debates again, another argument emerged.

Nobody, not people in CNY or anyone else, can allow their values or core beliefs to be traded away for payments of federal money. Core principles of war (Iraq) and liberties (domestic spying and torture) must trump any considerations of the pocketbook.

Jim Walsh's aproach to those fundamental issues of war and liberties is disinterested; he is "follow the leader". We are representated by an Apparatchik who gives unquestioning loyalty to Republican leadership. In return for federal money, he keeps his mouth shut, does not ask questions, and gives his vote to Bush.

But his votes are our votes. They are made in CNY's name. This vulgar quid pro quo for federal handouts has become a reflection of us and Upstate New York.

I do talk to people who have strong feelings on Iraq, but nevertheless are tempted to base their vote on Walsh's seniority. I urge them not to sell their vote and hence themselves, and to instead look in their heart and vote on core principles.


At 10:38 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I don't like this rhetorical strategy. If the issue is about who's leadership would benefit our district financially, we have no need to change the subject and talk about our values, and how Walsh doesn't represent them. I mean, it's true, but Dan has the pocketbook facts on his side and can address this issue head on.

We can't risk leaving the impression that while Dan better represents our values, Walsh might be better for our pocketbook. And we don't need to, because Walsh isn't better for our pocketbook.

Walsh represents what's so wrong and short-sighted about congress appropriations. They appropriate money not based on anything like a strategy for regional renewal. Instead, they set up a "queue of pork" where everybody periodically gets their turn to grab a chunk, so long as they allow everybody else to grab their own chunk. Wlash has never seen a pork bill that he didn't like, whether it's money for some time-limited project in our district or a $40 Million bridge to an unpopulated Alaskan island.

And this is how the current congressional appropriations system hurts us: All the taxpayer money that should be getting reinvested in our district arrives in the form of a handout that has no chance to fix anything structural and fundamental. Instead of funding an economic recovery, the handouts get used up and disappear. The departure of our young people and the deterioration of our industries continue. I mean, we all see it. Some of us might be tempted to blame this on "the system" - but Walsh IS the system! The appropriations committe is his to run. Why does he choose to run it it like a soup kitchen for the districts? We don't need soup, we need jobs and then we can cook our own.

And we have every reason to think that with Democrats in charge, this broken system will change. The only question is, will we have an energetic and articulate advocate in Congress, someone who will work hard to make these changes work us and our pocketbooks? We will, but only if we elect Dan Maffei.

At 11:02 AM, Blogger TLB said...

Your point that approriations are short sighted is #2 on the list. Dan Maffei has made that point- he would use federal dollars more intellegently- in a way to "teach a man to fish rather then giving him a fish".

So, I agree, I don't think it is necessary to raise a white flag on the subject of federal money. But those arguments may not sway undecided, conservative votors. These are people who don't read this blog. For them, its a tuff call as to giving up the seniority for "change". What I ask them is to look at the quid pro quo nature of the bargain. How is Walsh representing them in exchange for what you get.

I use that argument in addition to the first 3 points, not as a substitute for them. In some cases, it is an easier argument then diving into the details of how approriations are handed out in the House.


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