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Istook derails earmarks (Retribution for Northeastern Republican Amtrak supporters)
The Hill ^ | 11/24/04 | Hans Nichols

Posted on 11/24/2004 8:31:54 AM PST by nj26

Deep in the transportation section of this year’s omnibus spending bill, Rep. Ernest Istook (R-Okla.) dispensed a little appropriator’s justice, punishing 21 Republicans who wrote him a letter in support of $1.8 billion for Amtrak.

Istook, chairman of the Subcommittee on Transportation, Treasury and Independent Agencies, drastically reduced, or entirely excised, the transportation earmarks that those lawmakers were expecting to receive, making good on a little-noticed threat he issued in a letter last February.

Istook’s anti-Amtrak retribution hit several of the Republican majority’s most vulnerable members, including Reps. Rob Simmons (R-Conn.) and Jim Gerlach (R-Pa.), two Northeastern centrists who won tight races, in part, by convincing constituents of their ability to bring home road money.

The affected lawmakers did not learn of Istook’s drastic action until last Saturday, when the bill was passed. Several of them contacted Republican leaders to inquire if they knew of Istook’s punitive action and were told that party leaders were unaware that Istook was harming vulnerable members.

(Excerpt) Read more at hillnews.com ...


TOPICS: Government; Politics/Elections; US: Connecticut; US: New Jersey; US: Pennsylvania
KEYWORDS: appropriations; budget; istook; pork; roads
What is going on with this guy? This will be all over the northeastern (i.e. liberal) MSM papers within a day or two.
1 posted on 11/24/2004 8:31:55 AM PST by nj26
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Comment #2 Removed by Moderator

To: William Creel

This is his second controversy of the week.

And, not to sound provincial, but New Jersey and Connecticut are the highest income states in the country, and send a lot more to the Federal Government than we get back. I just don't think our road projects should be eliminated in retribution for supporting Amtrak. It would be like eliminating road projects for Iowa in response to their requests for farm subsidies. Cut Amtrak, cut the farm subsidies, but save the retribution for Democrats, not other Republicans in swing districts.


3 posted on 11/24/2004 8:37:57 AM PST by nj26
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Comment #4 Removed by Moderator

To: nj26
This is his second controversy of the week.

I am unclear, is that an argument for preserving out-of-control gov't spending?

5 posted on 11/24/2004 8:41:37 AM PST by vbmoneyspender
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To: nj26

Amtrack is nothing but a huge boondoogle for politicians. I say Right On, Mr. Istook! If this country needs a railway, the private sector should build it.


6 posted on 11/24/2004 8:43:11 AM PST by basil (Exercise your Second Amendment--buy another gun today!)
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To: nj26
And, not to sound provincial, but New Jersey and Connecticut are the highest income states in the country, and send a lot more to the Federal Government than we get back.

Lately, I haven't heard too many Republicans making that argument. I have heard alot of loonie leftists like Lawrence O'Donnell making that argument. Maybe, instead of demanding your money back in the form of increased gov't spending, a more productive, conservative approach would be to demand that the 'progressive' nature of tax code be revised by cutting marginal rates for high-income earners.

7 posted on 11/24/2004 8:44:57 AM PST by vbmoneyspender
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To: vbmoneyspender

"I am unclear, is that an argument for preserving out-of-control gov't spending?"

It's an argument for some party discipline. This is the same guy that inserted that tax snooping clause in the appropriations bill, which Bill Frist immediately condemned, and the controversy has been all over the media.

It's one thing to cut spending. It is another thing to make a fool of fellow Republicans. Many of these Congressmen have done us a favor by holding onto districts that were carried by John Kerry and Al Gore. And the elections are often close. For example, Gerlach (R-PA) won with 51% of the vote in the recent election. Simmons (R-CT) is another GOP incumbent in a Democratic district.

There's being principled, and there's shooting yourself in the foot in the process.


8 posted on 11/24/2004 8:45:33 AM PST by nj26
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To: nj26

Istook made a mistake, too many Republicans are on the Northeast corridor and they won't let this stand.


9 posted on 11/24/2004 8:47:58 AM PST by 1Old Pro
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To: nj26

Is it possible that Istook is doing the right thing by reigning in gov't spending? Or is that an argument that you just don't get too excited about?


10 posted on 11/24/2004 8:49:57 AM PST by vbmoneyspender
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To: vbmoneyspender

"Is it possible that Istook is doing the right thing by reigning in gov't spending?"

Sure, if he cut the pork-barrel spending in EVERY congressional district, he would be doing the right thing.

But, this seems to be about retribution against other Republicans, rather than smaller government. Otherwise, why target only these districts?


11 posted on 11/24/2004 8:52:03 AM PST by nj26
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To: nj26

" It would be like eliminating road projects for Iowa in response to their requests for farm subsidies."

I'm trying to figure out why that would be a bad thing. There is only so much money to go around.

Istook sent out a memo asking the members to prioritize the money for their districts. Those members made Amtrak their priority.

He asked them what they wanted to do. They told him Amtrak. End of story.


12 posted on 11/24/2004 8:57:58 AM PST by Poser (Joining Belly Girl in the Pajamahadeen)
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To: nj26
Sure, if he cut the pork-barrel spending in EVERY congressional district, he would be doing the right thing

I see liberals all the time making variants of that argument that "Unless you are going to do something everywhere, you shouldn't do it anywhere." A classic of that type of argument is the argument the left makes that unless we are willing to get rid of every dictator, we shouldn't get rid of any particular dictator like Hussein.

Wouldn't you agree that that type of argument is really an intellectually dishonest dodge. What you are really saying when you say that is that you don't want any cuts in spending. Isn't that the case?

13 posted on 11/24/2004 8:58:38 AM PST by vbmoneyspender
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To: vbmoneyspender

This seems to be about personal retribution to me. That is the point of the article, and I think that making it an argument about "smaller government" is a diversion.

You don't think there was any personal retribution involved? It just happened to be that all the wasteful road projects were in these 21 districts.


14 posted on 11/24/2004 9:03:18 AM PST by nj26
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To: nj26
I have not read the bill; but rest assured, Rep. Istook will have cut pork that he was able to see, INCLUDING HIS OWN DISTRICT. It is well known around here that he opposed federal funding of a light rail system in OKC even though it had the favor of all other local/national politicians. He has questioned the amount of appropriation for I-40, which is crumbling. He wants to restore fiscal sanity and eliminate wasteful practices of the past.

It seems to me that the when representatives did not prioritize their desires as asked, they are to fault -- if there is fault. He can't represent all districts. When he asks for input, he shouldn't be ignored.

Frankly, I think that he is "spot on."

Gwjack

15 posted on 11/24/2004 9:13:04 AM PST by gwjack (I love the smell of democrats in the morning. It smells like VICTORY!)
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To: gwjack

Some of the projects that were funded in the bill:

$300,000 to save the Pennsylvania home of politician Frederick Augustus Muhlenberg
$1.5 million to establish an archive for Dick Gephardt
$443,000 for research to develop "baby food containing salmon"
$4 million for "shrimp aquaculture"
$133,000 for maple research in Vermont
$500,000 for a history museum in Waterloo, Iowa
$500,000 for the NY Botanical Garden
$3 million for research on the genetics of grapes

Give me a break. I live in one of these 21 districts, so maybe I am just thinking of myself, but I'll be remembering the shrimp aquaculture every time I hit a pothole.


16 posted on 11/24/2004 9:20:34 AM PST by nj26
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To: nj26
...but I'll be remembering the shrimp aquaculture every time I hit a pothole.

Me too as I consider the genetics of the grapes in the bottle of wine I just finished...(hic)...

17 posted on 11/24/2004 9:56:12 AM PST by LoneGOPinCT (From the Land of Liberalty. All we are saying is give pizza chants.)
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To: nj26
I live in one of these 21 districts, so maybe I am just thinking of myself, but I'll be remembering the shrimp aquaculture every time I hit a pothole.

Your representative chose to prioritize Amtrak over roads. Think about that every time you hit a pothole.

18 posted on 11/24/2004 9:56:35 AM PST by JohnnyZ ("Thought I was having trouble with my adding. It's all right now." - Clint Eastwood)
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To: nj26
This seems to be about personal retribution to me. That is the point of the article

There's nothing personal about it.

Istook made it clear that if reps wanted Amtrak funding it would count as part or all of their transportation allotment. The reps went ahead and chose Amtrak and their only defense is that they "didn't believe" Istook would follow through. Well, he's on honest guy, and he followed through.

The reps got most of the Amtrak funding they wanted and lost most of the other projects they wanted. Sounds fair to me!

19 posted on 11/24/2004 10:08:54 AM PST by JohnnyZ ("Thought I was having trouble with my adding. It's all right now." - Clint Eastwood)
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To: JohnnyZ

"There's nothing personal about it.

Istook made it clear that if reps wanted Amtrak funding it would count as part or all of their transportation allotment. The reps went ahead and chose Amtrak and their only defense is that they "didn't believe" Istook would follow through. Well, he's on honest guy, and he followed through.

The reps got most of the Amtrak funding they wanted and lost most of the other projects they wanted. Sounds fair to me!"

That is a blatant lie. Many of these districts don't have ANY Amtrak service. For example, Amtrak doesn't serve the 5th district (Scott Garrett, R) of New Jersey. The nearest stop is in Newark, which is 20-30 miles away. Likewise, it doesn't serve the 2nd district of New Jersey (LoBiondo, R)

These lawmakers signed a letter supporting Amtrak as a matter of ideology, and now are being punished for it. They didn't submit any "transportation prioritization" list for their districts.


20 posted on 11/24/2004 10:38:07 AM PST by nj26
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To: nj26
That is a blatant lie. Many of these districts don't have ANY Amtrak service.

What was a lie? I never said they had Amtrak in their district. If they want to advocate funding for transportation spending outside their district at the expense of their local projects, well again that's their problem.

21 posted on 11/24/2004 10:44:33 AM PST by JohnnyZ ("Thought I was having trouble with my adding. It's all right now." - Clint Eastwood)
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To: JohnnyZ

"What was a lie? I never said they had Amtrak in their district. If they want to advocate funding for transportation spending outside their district at the expense of their local projects, well again that's their problem."

So if a Republican signs a letter supporting Amtrak, all transportation funding should be cut for their district, which doesn't have Amtrak. At the same time, we should provide full funding to the district of anybody that didn't bother to sign the letter, including districts represented by Democrats and districts that actually benefit from Amtrak.

That is so illogical in so many ways. If you want to fund Amtrak out of road money, cut funds from the districts with Amtrak.

And it's a sure way to lose some seats in the Northeast. Read the other article that I posted about pork-barrel spending. Rep. Istook didn't manage to cut all sorts of pork barrel spending proposed by Sen. Debbie Stabenow (up for reelection in 2006) and dozens of other Democrats.

I'll be sure to post the inevitable articles tomorrow in the Newark Star Ledger, Philadelphia Inquirer, and NY Times.

Like I said, nothing like shooting yourself in the foot to make a point. I just sense that Istook has a real tin ear for politics.


22 posted on 11/24/2004 10:52:40 AM PST by nj26
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To: nj26
If you want to fund Amtrak out of road money, cut funds from the districts with Amtrak.

So a rep who doesn't want to fund Amtrak but has it in his district gets his transportation projects cut?

Those reps advocated spending $1.8 BILLION on Amtrak. BILLION. If they want that extra 1.8 BILLION DOLLARS of transportation spending they can jolly well take it out of their allotment, rather than punish the reps who didn't want the spending.

The pork you mentioned totalled less than $11 MILLION. There's no comparison.

What was a lie? You never answered that.

23 posted on 11/24/2004 11:00:28 AM PST by JohnnyZ ("Thought I was having trouble with my adding. It's all right now." - Clint Eastwood)
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To: nj26

Amtrak should be defunded and killed once and for all. The states in the Northeast on the Bos-Wash corridor should fund passenger trains along the mainline and the commuter spurs. This is feasible, since this line makes money and carries a huge number of passengers.

No taxpayer dollars should be funding mostly empty trains running across red states.


24 posted on 11/24/2004 11:30:16 AM PST by Lessismore
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To: William Creel
He's being principled.

The use of this word in connection with the author of a provision stripping tax returns of confidentiality must involve some definition with which I have not been familiar.

25 posted on 11/29/2004 10:48:59 AM PST by steve-b (I put sentences together suspiciously well for a righty blogger.)
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Comment #26 Removed by Moderator

To: basil

The Amtrak train I was supposed to take to Oakland (from Fresno) last Thursday was cancelled because a young man laid his head on the tracks to commit suicide. Poor kid.


27 posted on 11/29/2004 2:49:08 PM PST by Saundra Duffy (Save Terri Schiavo!!!)
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To: nj26

Istook is a nutcase. And, apparently, very vengeful.


28 posted on 11/29/2004 2:53:39 PM PST by sinkspur ("It is a great day to be alive. I appreciate your gratitude." God Himself.)
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