Oklahoma Republican Senator James Inhofe issued a press release on Friday, October 21st, that indicates he may be confused. The press release attempts to explain his no vote on the amendment offered by Oklahoma Republican Senator Tom Coburn that would have de-funded Senator Ted Stevens’ “bridge to nowhere”.
Senator Inhofe’s press release:
Inhofe Calls for Focus on Local Priorities in Federal Funding Bills
Washington, D.C. – Senator James M. Inhofe today released the following statement in response to last night’s debate regarding the elimination of funding for various projects.
“I have always objected to the idea of bureaucrats in Washington determining how local and state communities spend their tax dollars.”
“Let me be clear, neither of yesterday’s amendments opposed by Senator Coburn saves any money, nearly all of my colleagues agreed with me in recognizing that fact. [86-13 and 15-82 respectively]”
“I have always praised the way transportation bills are structured in that they do not dictate from Washington, but instead allow local communities and states to prioritize their individual needs.”
“Right here in Oklahoma, our Oklahoma Department of Transportation has named important highway projects as their priorities. These projects may or may not be seen as valuable to those in other states and this is (sic) only serves to reinforce my conclusion that it is each state’s responsibility to set its own priorities. Conversely it is inappropriate for any Senator to overrule how a state chooses to expend its individual share of federal funding.”
What would be the best way to focus on local spending priorities?
Senator Inhofe seems to think that the Federal Government should confiscate our money, have Congress determine some formula for allocating it back to the states and then have each state choose how it will “expend its individual share” of the Congressionally determined federal funding.
Here’s a thought. Let’s not send the money to Washington in the first place. Reduce our Federal tax burden and have each state raise their own money to take care of their own transportation needs. If a state like Alaska needs a “bridge to nowhere” above and beyond what it can afford, have the state’s Senators introduce stand-alone legislation that can be voted up or down by the whole Senate.
Senator Inhofe needs to understand that we are tired of the tax and spend shell game going on in Washington. We want less money and less power in Congress. As Republicans, we favor a smaller Federal Government.
Of course, most Senators would not like the idea of letting the states keep their own money. They don’t want to lose their power. Having the country’s transportation dollars go to Washington first gives Senators a better opportunity to extract campaign contributions as they allocate the money back to the states. It also gives Congress the power to impose its will on the states. Congress can set national speed limits or blood alcohol levels by threat of withholding transportation money.
Another problem with the Inhofe method is that the spending ends up being unconstitutional. Earmarks in the Transportation bill include: bicycle and pedestrian paths, museum renovation and expansion, Ferry purchases, sidewalk improvements, lighting upgrades and landscaping. Each state wants to make sure it uses its entire share of the pie, but Congress is not authorized to spend our money this way.
Clause 7 of Section 8 of Article I of the United States Constitution is very specific:
[Congress shall have Power] To establish Post Offices and post Roads
No bike paths, no landscaping and no ferries. Just roads.
I realize that millions of people in this country are perfectly happy ignoring the Constitution and are pleased that our money is concentrated in Washington and doled back out to us by Congress. Those people have a label; Democrats.
Other people, Republicans, want the power, money and control to shift back toward the state, local and individual level.
Senator Coburn also issued a press release on October 21st. There is a big difference between the two Republican Senators from Oklahoma. One of them seems to be listening to millions of Republicans across the country who have voiced there opinion on how to pay for the Gulf Coast hurricane damage. The other one seems to be listening to 81 of his colleagues that have been elected to the Senate and like things just the way they are.