Wednesday, August 8, 2007

The Arrogance of Don Young

Last night, I posted a Time article that takes Representatives Don Young (R-AK) and James Oberstar (D-MN) to task for attempts to shift blame to the federal government’s supposed lack of transportation funding in the face of their egregious pork spending on bridges to nowhere, bridges with their names on them, nature and snowmobile trails in unpopulated areas and million dollar visitor centers on these nature trails.

This morning when I started on my Metro ride to work, I looked at the cover of the Express (which is basically a free, condensed version of the Washington Post for train commuters) and saw Don Young’s picture next to the headline “Collapse Fuels Gas Tax Push.”

In this article, the ever so arrogant Young is quoted as saying “We have to, as a Congress, grasp this problem. And yes, I would even suggest, fund this problem with a tax.”

Upon further reading in the actual Washington Post article, Rep. Young followed this with the bizarre statement “may the sky not fall on me,” somehow equating himself to Chicken Little, because, as I pointed out last night, he hemmed and hawed when President Bush forced the bloated transportation bill down from Young’s original $375 billion to $286 billion.

Yes, Rep. Don Young, whose state of about 630,000 people took home $1 billion in just in earmarks from the 2005 federal transportation bill (roughly $1,587 per Alaskan), including $231 million for a bridge in Anchorage that would be named for himself, thinks that there is a problem, and the problem is not enough money, and the solution is more taxes.

Not even included in the $1 billion pork package is the $223 million that was supposed to go to the infamous “bridge to nowhere” project, connecting a town of 8,000 with an island of 50 people with a bridge larger than the Brooklyn Bridge and Golden Gate Bridge. This earmark was specifically de-funded for being too egregious, but the money was then sent to the general Alaskan package and then used on the same project.

It would be hilarious, if it wasn’t so pathetic, and if the Express article didn’t fail to mention any of this, basically giving Rep. Young a free ride to talk about raising your taxes without questioning his outlandish pork spending. Thankfully the edition in the Post brings this up, saying:

"The [Bush] administration in turn has demanded that Congress show more discipline, citing thousands of special projects, or earmarks, in highway bills that don't reflect the real priorities. The best known among them was one that Young supported: $223 million for the "Bridge to Nowhere" in Alaska."

Still, the article gives Rep. James Oberstar a free pass, quoting him as saying “This administration failed to support robust investment in surface transportation and the funding to accompany it,” but then failing to mention his and his state's well-documented wasteful pork projects, including $13 million just for nature trails in Oberstar's district alone.

Rep. Oberstar continues, saying that in 2009, Congress won’t settle for a “bargain basement” measure.

Hopefully, Americans won’t settle for this arrogance and abuse of taxpayer’s money from blow-hards like Don Young, Ted Stevens and James Oberstar. The problem is not a lack of funds and the solution is not more taxes; it’s an abuse of the massive amounts of funds already available by politicians more interested in short-term political gain at the expense of critical projects and the only logical solution is to wake up and either vote these people out of office, or work to end the corrupt, dangerous earmark practices. If not, they’ll continue to get away with it, and will continue to demand more of your hard earned money.

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