Thursday, April 16, 2009

Whoa there, Washington Waste Watcher Guy!

Mr. Rogers is Concerned About Waste.

He was in Lansing yesterday for the MI tea party festivities.

He's set up a "Washington Waste Watch" website to track how tax dollars are being spent, and issued this statement:

“Republicans and Democrats have spent recklessly in the past, but now the problem is worse than ever,” Rogerssaid. “The federal deficit has ballooned to more than a trillion dollars. It is irresponsible and will ensure that our children and grandchildren have a huge debt to pay to countries like China.”

Rogers, who also will address a Lansing “Tea Party” today organized to protest out-of-control spending and taxation, highlighted the long history of poor spending decisions made in Washington.   “For too long, we have watched as our money was wasted on bridges to nowhere, a hippie museum in New York, or an indoor rainforest in Iowa,” Rogers said. “We need an open, honest debate about how much money Washington should take in taxes, how much money Washington should borrow in our name and just how that money will be spent.”

Sounds good... except for a few picky details:

1.) "Republicans and Democrats have spent recklessly in the past." 
Mr. Rogers is now serving his fifth term in Washington -- so that pretty much disqualifies him from using the passive voice and the third person, as if he had nothing to do with it.  

2.) "For too long, we have watched as our money has been wasted on bridges to nowhere"  
Mr. Rogers is welcome to mock other representatives' requests for "hippie museums" as long as he remembers that he personally asked for $17.6 million worth of earmarks -- including "wood utilization research" and $475,750 for a private university's recreation center.   

On his website, Mr. Rogers conveniently ignores his own earmark requests, and instead singles out a $550,000 project in Pawtucket, RI as an example of silly spending.  Unsurprisingly, Mr. Rogers chose to steal a headline without reading the rest of the article.  What did he miss in his froth of indignation?  

Michael Cassidy, the city planning director, said the money is for shovel-ready projects and the city is ready to go on both the skateboarding park and work on the athletic courts. A bid request has been issued seeking a contractor for the site, which takes in the three recreational projects, at Division and North Bend streets.

Cassidy said the stimulus will allow Pawtucket to forge ahead with more work than expected over the summer, giving jobs to construction workers. He estimated 30 to 40 workers on the projects, which includes subcontractors the contractor hires. He predicted a ripple effect: those working on the projects will buy lunch at local eateries and have their cars repaired at local service stations, and the contractor will buy materials, from lumber to basketball nets and fencing.

Ronald L. Wunschel, the city’s finance director, said people have sought for years to have a safe skateboard park so that young people don’t skate on other public property.

It will be an outdoor park, so it can’t be used in bad weather, Cassidy said. It won’t require staffing because the design –– size of ramps, etc. –– meets standards set by the insurer, the Rhode Island Interlocal Trust. The major work is expected to start when school ends and finish around Labor Day.

Hmmm.  Doesn't sound quite so wild-eyed anymore, does it?  

3.) "The Federal deficit has ballooned to over a trillion dollars" 

Yes, it certainly has.  I don't know anyone who is happy with this, Republican or Democrat.   But while Mr. Rogers has fun stomping his feet and hanging out with the Obama-hating Teabag gang, he'd do well to remember what has happened in Washington since he was first elected in 2000:

And here is a report from the Bureau of Public Debt of the annual federal debt outstanding at the end of the last 8 federal fiscal years:

09/30/2008    $10,024,724,896,912.49
09/30/2007    $9,007,653,372,262.48
09/30/2006    $8,506,973,899,215.23
09/30/2005    $7,932,709,661,723.50
09/30/2004    $7,379,052,696,330.32
09/30/2003    $6,783,231,062,743.62
09/30/2002    $6,228,235,965,597.16
09/30/2001    $5,807,463,412,200.06
09/30/2000    $5,674,178,209,886.86

Hale Stewart sums it up nicely:

Republican/conservative rank and file are protesting because they are out of power and their leadership is terrible. But they aren't protesting spending; they are protesting the Democratic Party's governance. And that is fine. But please, don't tell me it's about spending or debt. If that were the case, you guys should have taken to the streets years ago.

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