Thursday, September 29, 2005

Congresswoman's Schmidt's 'Talk' we await the 'Walk'

Yesterday, Congresswoman Jean Schmidt gave the following statement on the House floor regarding Katrina/Rita Relief and Fiscal Discipline:

Mr. Speaker, I rise before you tonight to talk to you about something which I have a lot of experience with as a wife and a mother, budgeting.

Today, an honest estimate of what it will cost to pay for the Federal Government's responsibilities on the Gulf Coast is approximately $100 billion. This money will go to rebuild things like levees, highways, bridges, hospitals and schools, the infrastructure needed for the private sector to rebuild this devastated region. That is a lot of money, money that no one planned or anticipated.

As we all know, when the car breaks down or the dishwasher stops or any other unanticipated expense comes up, we must prioritize and separate the needs from the wants.

Raising taxes is not an option. The last thing anyone in this country needs is the burden of giving the government more money to spend, spend, spend. Our economy and thousands of jobs will pay the price. We need to make some tough decisions, realize what is important to us as Americans, what we need, and decide what can wait until another payday.

Some may call for deficit spending, but that is not the answer. American families make tough budget decisions every day. A broken furnace means no trip to Disney World. Increased prices at the pump means less meals eaten outside the home. It is a matter of priorities. It is a matter of responsibilities.

The government needs to prioritize, start acting like responsible adults, and quit spending money like it grows on trees.
Ms. Schmidt's statement sets a fiscal conservative tone, but there are some areas of concern.

It appears that Ms. Schmidt has come to the conclusion that the rebuilding of New Orleans is a fait accompli.
...This money will go to rebuild things like levees, highways, bridges, hospitals and schools, the infrastructure needed for the private sector to rebuild this devastated region.
Porkopolis has contacted Ms. Schmidt suggesting that she and her colleagues call for Congressional hearings to answer the question, "Should New Orleans be rebuilt with government money?".

In addition, Representative Schmidt failed to show the 2nd District of Ohio just how fiscally responsible a conservative she could be with her vote on H.R. 3673.

H.R. 3673 authorized $51.8 billion in additional Katrina disaster funds. Ms. Schmidt did not join with the eleven true fiscal conservatvies that saw the bill for what it was; a reflexive and emotional attempt by the Congress to throw money at Katrina disaster relief which led The Wall Street Journal to editorialize:

...The biggest threat now to a rapid and complete recovery is the storm-after-the-storm in Washington, where the politicians are making Governor Blanco look composed.

Our panicky, or shall we say opportunistic, solons are already using Katrina to bust through whatever spending limits they had previously set for themselves. Following last week's $10.5 billion, Congress is set to appropriate $52 billion more this week, and not just for the Gulf Coast. Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid has already tossed out $150 billion as a spending goal, and Republicans are saying they won't be outbid. No one wants to be stingy, but it's time to worry when the same people who passed a $286 billion highway bill without enough money for Louisiana levees now want to throw money at everything in sight...

Ms. Schmidt can't fall back on the argument that 'time was of the essence', thus requiring a quick vote for H.R. 3673; just a week before the authorizatoin of the additional $51.8 billion Congress had already authorized $10.5 billion in emergency funds.

Some might want to give her a 'freshman pass' and see her vote as an effort on her part to support her party leadership. Porkopolis is not buying it; especially with $51.8 in deficit spending that the bill enabled. Moreover, the Republican party leadership has lost all claim to such deference; think Medicare Drug Benefit Bill, Energy Bill, 2003-2004 Omnibus bills, Agriculture Bill, Highway Bill...

We send our representatives to Congress to use a combination of heart and mind. The authorization of the $10.5 billion followed immediately by the $51.8 billion was all heart and no mind.

Congressman Jeff Flake explained that his vote against the bill; 'No' is a 'yes' for fiscal discipline:

...When Congress is spending an amount of money this large ($50 billion in spending requires taking $600 from every family in America), we had better make sure that we know how it is being spent. Those of us who voted against the bill simply did not feel that proper safeguards were in place.

Further, many of us voting "no" were troubled by the absence of offsets. In other words, this new $50 billion spending bill is not accompanied by spending cuts elsewhere in the budget. We are simply adding to the deficit and piling more debt on future generations. Unfortunately, my request for offsets was ignored by Republicans and Democrats alike...
Mr. Flake, a member of the Republican Study Committee (RSC), is an example of a representative that walks the fiscal conservative talk. The RSC is promoting "Operation Offset", an effort to find savings in the federal budget to pay for hurricane relief.

Ms. Schmidt, on the other hand, is off to a fiscally irresponsible start as the Congresswoman for Ohio's 2nd District. Hopefully her statement portends of a desire to redouble her efforts to be the true fiscal conservative the district sent to represent us. She has just a few months before next term's election to turn around her 'F'- level perfomance and work towards the 'A'-level her constituents expect of her.

Porkopolis will continue to monitor Representative Schmidt and encourage her to 'walk' the fiscal conservative 'talk' in her representation of the 2nd District.

Hat Tip: Project Logic



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