Wednesday, April 6, 2011

From Unemployment Benefits to Political Pork

Earlier this week I reported that State Senators Jim Lembke, Brian Nieves, Will Krause, and Rob Schaaf are filibustering the Federal government's 20 week extension of unemployment benefits. Their efforts were praised last Friday by Mark Steyn on the Rush Limbaugh show.

I just received the following letter from one of Senator Lembke's aides:
Over the past few weeks Senator Lembke and Senator Nieves have been leading an effort to prevent Chinese money, including a 20-week extension of unemployment benefits from 79 weeks to 99 weeks, from being spent by the federal government and state of Missouri. These senators are voicing the concern many of us have - that the federal government is living outside its means and our nation’s debt, currently above $14.2 trillion, is putting the America our parents and grandparents fought for in jeopardy for future generations. The federal government is currently out of touch, having raised the debt ceiling several times, failed to pass a constitutionally obligated federal budget, and failed to agree on $60 billion in cuts to bureaucratic government. Because of these circumstances, Senator Lembke and Senator Nieves have set out to reject as many federal funds as they can.

Senator Lembke and Senator Nieves understand the immense hardships families are going through due to tough economic times. Because of this understanding, these senators reached out to Governor Nixon and opened the door for negotiation. The senators asked the governor to remove his recommendation for House Bill 18, a bill riddled with special interest projects and pork spending. The Governor’s Office refused to give up their pet projects which include $170 million for weatherization, $22 million for a high speed rail study, and $100,000 for aquaculture fisheries in order to provide extended unemployment benefits for the citizens of Missouri. The governor of the State of Missouri picked pet projects over people. Governor Nixon wants to spend hundreds of millions of dollars that our federal government does not have on fisheries and weatherization over the people of our state.
This seems like a reasonable compromise: the Missouri four give up their filibuster of unemployment benefits and Gov Nixon gives up the pork laden HB18. The unemployment benefits will go to people who are confronting immediate financial needs while HB 18 appears to earmark stimulus funding for dubious projects and special interests. The former ameliorates hardship across the state while the latter lines the pockets of Democrat constituencies. The first is equitable while the second completes the circle of crony capitalism—the very life blood of the Democrat Party.

I am told that negotiations between Senator Lembke and Gov Nixon were short. When confronted with a compromise designed to help Missouri households—even those households that do not enjoy political connections—Gov Nixon stormed out of the room. Apparently, political pork projects and special interests are more important to the Governor than the plight of Show Me Staters who can't find work.

Perhaps if Governor Nixon spent less time squandering taxpayer dollars on travel he would better understand the priorities of Missouri families.

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