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The Stevens Spectacle: Time for Conservatives to Put Their Mouths Where Their Money Is

What a pathetic spectacle it was to see Republican Ted Stevens defending his “bridge to nowhere” on the Senate floor. Like a spoiled little kid he said:

“I’m going to put the Senate on Notice. If the Senate decides to discriminate against our state, to take money only from our state, I’ll resign from this body.”

Senate Republicans had a golden opportunity to save millions of tax payer dollars and get rid of their Party’s version of Robert Byrd. They blew it.

Republican Senator Tom Coburn from Oklahoma offered the amendment to de-fund the $223,000,000 Alaskan bridge that will connect a population of about 50 to a population of about 8,000. Ten other Republican Senators and four Democrat Senators stood by Coburn and voted for his amendment.

Now it’s time for conservatives throughout the nation to back up Coburn and turn up the heat on the forty-two non-Alaskan Republican Senators who voted the wrong way.

Why did Senator McCain sit this vote out? He portrays himself as a budget hawk, but he didn’t go on the record for the Coburn amendment. Three and a half hours earlier at 2:30 p.m. he voted on a different matter, but at 6:00 p.m. he skipped this vote.

Senators Brownback and Frist should be asked if they think supporting Ted Stevens’ appetite for pork will help them win the Republican Presidential Primary.

Senators Shelby (Alabama), Cochran (Mississippi), Lott (Mississippi), Cornyn (Texas), and Hutchison (Texas) should be asked if building the “bridge to nowhere” is more important than repairing hurricane damage.

All of the other Republican Senators who voted down Coburn’s amendment should be forced to explain why this is a good expenditure of hard earned tax dollars. Perhaps they are frightened of the all-powerful Ted Stevens because he “warned” them that he would be like a “wounded bull” if they took away his bridge. Are they scared they might lose their pork?

President Bush should be asked if he is proud that he actively campaigned against the extremely fiscally conservative Pat Toomey so that Senator Specter could get reelected and vote against restraining spending.

Conservatives have a small window of opportunity to end the hurricane of pork that scatters our tax dollars every year. Stopping Senator Stevens would be a good start.

After the Coburn amendment failed, Senator Stevens had the audacity to issue a press release stating:

“I came here and swore to uphold the Constitution of the United States. …This amendment is an offense to me. It is not only an offense to me; it is a threat to my whole state, to every person in my state.”

Congressman Jeff Flake issued an interesting press release two weeks earlier that indicates the Senator from Alaska is a serial porker:

“This week’s egregious earmark: $10,000,000 for the Alaska Fisheries Marketing Board. The Board used the earmark to issue a $500,000 grant to Alaska Airlines to custom paint the image of a huge king salmon onto one of their 737 passenger planes.”

It takes a lot of nerve for Senator Stevens to claim he upholds the Constitution. It is impossible to make an argument that the Constitution authorizes Congress to spend $500,000 to paint a fish on a plane. An interesting side note is that Senator Stevens’ son sits on the Alaska Fisheries Marketing Board.

A good rule of thumb would be that once a Senator makes it possible to squander a half million of hard earned tax dollars to paint a plane, he loses his right to ask for any spending for his state, period.

It’s time for conservatives to make it very clear to all of the Republican Senators that we are more offended than Senator Stevens is. They should know that we think pork-barrel spending is a threat to all of the states and every person in the country. Let’s tell them in no uncertain terms that we are not interested in paying for Senator Stevens’ bridge or the fish that fly over it.

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Written By

Todd Manzi is a frequent contributor to Human Events. He lives in Mosinee Wisconsin and writes most passionately about media bias, the Constitution, education, supply-side economics and out-of-control Congressional Spending. He can be contacted through his website (www.toddmanzi.com).

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