Skip to comments.Alaska's Murkowski calls earmark vote 'long on bravado, short on substance'
Posted on 12/01/2010 5:06:37 AM PST by Skeez
WASHINGTON -- The era of zealous earmarking championed by former Alaska Sen. Ted Stevens may be over but the U.S. Senate on Tuesday couldn't quite keep itself from ending the practice altogether.
Both of Alaska's senators cast votes Tuesday against a proposed earmark ban, saying their young state still has critical needs that are best served by their ability to set aside millions of dollars for special projects back home.
"I am committed to addressing Alaska's enormous infrastructure needs and will continue to support requests from Alaskans for community-backed investments in public buildings, roads, ports and other projects and programs that create jobs, strengthen our communities and keep our economy moving," said Sen. Mark Begich, D-Alaska.
Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, who sits on the Senate Appropriations Committee, called the vote "long on bravado but short on substance." The rest of the Republican Senate conference voted earlier this month on a separate, internal ban on GOP requests for earmarks but Murkowski didn't support that, either.
"We recognize that we need to stop out-of-control spending but we need to make sure that any action we take actually translates into spending and deficit reduction rather than just messaging," she said.
The earmark moratorium was sponsored by Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Okla., who in the past has called the special spending requests "the gateway drug to spending addiction in Washington."
Including Murkowski, eight Republicans voted against a procedural measure to consider the amendment. It needed a two-thirds majority to pass but gained only 39 votes. Seven Democrats voted for it.
One of those Democrats, Sen. Claire McCaskill of Missouri, said that regardless of the outcome, she was encouraged.
"We've had many votes over the four years I've been here and we've never gotten this close," said McCaskill, one of the lead sponsors of the ban. "That's the good news. The bad news is it's still a bipartisan problem. We have a number of Republicans who voted 'no' and way too many Democrats voted 'no.' Hopefully the fight will continue."
Responding in part to voter anger over the deficit and costly government programs in the economic stimulus bill, House Republicans last month voted on an earmark ban that will take effect when they assume control of the chamber in January.
Their Senate Republican counterparts followed suit, minus Murkowski's support.
The fiscal 2010 budget contained $16 billion worth of earmarks, about 1 percent of all federal spending. Earmarks are spending projects that lawmakers drop into the federal budget, often with little or no scrutiny.
Both of Alaska's senators argue that earmarks are necessary to bring Alaska's infrastructure and social services to the level of other, older states. It's a position long held by Stevens and Rep. Don Young, R-Alaska, who also continues to support earmarks in the face of the House ban on them.
Supporters, including Murkowski, also contend that a ban would have little impact on a deficit that reached $1.3 trillion last year.
The failed earmark ban was part of a broader food safety bill that increases Food and Drug Administration inspections of food processing facilities and forces producers to recall tainted foods. It does not cover meat, poultry or processed eggs, which are inspected by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Both Begich and Murkowski voted for the overall food safety bill, which passed 73-25.
In a sane and constitutional world, states would not send money to the Federal government for redistribution. A state would build its own infrastructure etc. using its own funds.
#1 earmark recipient - AK
Having lived in Alaska and worked as a Game Biologist in Alaska, and having hunted in Alaska, I can say that hunting accidents are not rare. They do happen. You just never know. I certainly hope Murkowski isn’t a hunter, and if she is, I hope she is very very very careful.
She would look much better in a burka...
This gal has quite a jawline. She always seems to look angry at someone.
Much more value in our resources than pennies from the feds.
That's because Liberals spend their lives acting angry.
She is who the people of Alaska wanted in the Senate. If they are happy, that is what matters.
“...I hope she is very very very careful...”
Sarc understood, but I hope she is not careful at all.
She is a supreme example of the scum that must be eliminated from public life is we have any hope of returning to a rational, civilized society.
She still doesn’t get it.
“Much more value in our resources than pennies from the feds.”
Develop your resources and Alaska will be a very wealthy state. Get rid of EPA, Interior, BLM, Energy Dept. and other places where the eco-fascist snakes live and Alaska is on its way.
Alaskans pay no state income tax or sales tax, and in fact the state usually sends out checks to residents, depending on how long they’ve resided in the state, as I understand it. If Alaska has “enormous infrastructure needs” as Murk claims, then it can damn well pay for them itself.
These senators continue to treat us like children; in this case breezily dismissing our concerns about earmarks because the amounts involved are small relative to the federal budget.
Well, yes: that's entirely true. It is a small amount of money - for the government, that is. And it is a tiny fraction of the budget... but, then again, most bribes are small potatoes compared to what they are truly intended to purchase.
In Congress, senators of both parties are given these little baubles in exchange for their affirmative votes on budget items costing hundreds of billions of dollars to the taxpayers who are adjudged entirely too stupid to make the connection.
Attention, Washington: the last time we brought flags and signs. Next time, it may be torches and pitchforks.
Alaskan need to enact RECALL legislation..
I wholly concur. Solution: Get the Feds out of the land and resource business.
MERCOWSKI is long of tooth and short of brain.
A totally bogus statement by the Herald, as the Senate rejected the earmarks ban.
Guards! GUARDS! Arrest that man! He is speaking treason against the Royal Federal Oligarchy!
Only 2% of the land is in private hands, the feds stop development at every turn. If Palin ever gets in,it will change as she has dwelt with big oil & the enviros in the past; put them back in their place too. Just wait till you see what happens if she ever is the Pres.
Yes, Alaskans pay sales taxes, different rates in different areas.
No State income tax, just like Texas, FL and other states - I guess you should ask where your dough is going.
As far as that “State check” thing...
Look up “Alaska Permanent Fund” on your search engine and educate yourself, BTW, the state sites have the facts, not speculation. Even the wiki has good information - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alaska_Permanent_Fund. Payout IS NOT based on length of residency.
Given that unemployment is over 80% in some parts of the State, the PFD check makes the difference between eating or not for far too many folks.
Alaska has no protection for elected officials against private law suits. This is the mechanism that was used to try to bankrupt Sarah Palin and eventually drove her from office.
Any ideas for a Murkowski ethics challenge (unfounded is just fine, btw)?
Turnabout is not only fair play, but necessary.
And Alaska collects no state state tax. Yes, local sales taxes (ranging from 2 to 5 percent - boo hoo) are levied, but again, at a much lower rate than outside.
Alaska is one of the lowest, if not the lowest, taxed states in the US. So: I'll stick with my original statement: if Alaska wants to spend megamillions of bucks on "infrastructure improvements" it can damn well pay for them itself. Don't pick my pocket for your bridges to nowhere.
How about the Big Dig in Boston? Or any other large ‘project’ in the L48?
BTW - a least 1/2 of the PFD payment money winds up in DC in income taxes, so we are just trying to get some back up here. THe PFD is the single largest transfer of cash to the FedGov in the US.
You are welcome.
I'm all for cancelling that and other big-buck federal boondoggles as well.