Wow- I went out for dinner last night and came home to find that the Faithful Readers here at Team America had been quite busy while I was goofing off. It appears that the Sealmeister has used his e-mailing skills that he learned working for ThePoint.com and figured out that targeted e-mail blasts are a lot cheaper than running ads or sending our mailers (none of which have hit District mailboxes yet, as far as I know). While I have not been able to independently verify this, and it's not on Seals' website (the latest press release on the site is dated Nov. 2), one of our readers claims that Seals released the following e-mail only last night:
Date: Sat, 22 Dec 2007
From: "Dan Seals" email@example.com
Subject: In Congress, It’s the Time of Year for Taking
It's that time of year again. The snow is on the ground, the holiday spirit is in the air, and the gift-giving is underway. And nowhere is this gift-giving more apparent than Congress' most recent spending bill, which gave billions of dollars in pork to the big special interests and lumps of coal to our children, grandchildren, and future generations to come.
That's right. Just this week, Congress sent a spending bill to the president that contained a side-splitting 9,000 earmarks, pet projects of individual members of Congress that are slipped into legislation at the last minute, financed with taxpayer money, and never debated or scrutinized before being signed into law. Given that we as a nation are already in debt, future taxpayers, like my kids, will pick up the bill.
Some of these earmarks surely go to good projects. But too many of them don't. The problem is that the process of earmarking doesn't give us any way to tell. That's because the decisions about what gets funded and what doesn't get made behind closed doors and without debate. That is an invitation for waste and abuse. The Democrats that took control of Congress in 2006 point out that they have taken steps to reform this process. They have not gone far enough. The system of earmarks should end. 9000 earmarks isn't a victory for anyone, but it is a definite loss for the taxpayer. I can think of no good reason why we should continue supporting a system that encourages waste and abuse. Our Congressman, Mark Kirk, can apparently think of 140 million reasons. He asked Congress for a staggering $140 million in pet projects to be funded by taxpayer dollars. Again, I'm sure there are some good projects in there. But if so, why not bring them into the light and have them voted on? The only one who has anything to lose is the project that shouldn't receive any funding in the first place. And that's the way it should be. But this is Congress, where it is better to take than to give. It's one more reason why we need a change in Congress.
Sincerely, Dan Seals
Democrat for Congress
December 22, 2007 8:23 PM
Many readers wasted no time jumping on this issue, as noted in the many, many comments to the last post, below. In a nutshell, our readers noted that the projects that will be funded by the Kirk-sponsored earmarks are hugely important to the 10th District , and most (if not all) were released by Kirk and fully vetted and considered months ago (not 'hidden' as Seals appears to think).
Moreover, many were also sponsored by Illinois Senators Dick Durbin and Barack Obama. In fact, if you check out the link under Durbin's name above, you will find that he brags about securing $350 million in projects for Illinois, not just the $140 million that Seals is so upset about Mark Kirk funding. Where's the outrage against Durbin, Dan? Oops. Next time Danno, you might want to check with the bosses before going out and making a record that you don't support their projects or your own constituents.
Getting back to Kirk and his so-called "pet projects," among other things, expanding Metra service is a biggie. But rather than spending time by trying to fight Mark Kirk's efforts to improve the quality of life for people in the district, maybe Seals should join the call with Kirk to the DEMOCRATIC leadership in Illinois to provide matching funds so that we do not loose out in over a billion dollars in federal grants. More about that here and here.
Blasting "pork" that is wasteful government spending is one thing. But Kirk already has a top-notch record on that issue, considering he killed the "bridge to nowhere." (and, in fact, it was largely the public outcry over the "bridge to nowhere" that has lead to increased scrutiny of federal earmark spending. Leave it to Seals to try to steal an issue from Mark Kirk that he practically invented).
And hidden, last-minute earmarks that are not the subject of debate aren't good, as they are generally also pork. But important projects that benefit constituents and represent the return of our own tax dollars to benefit local causes are not "pork," especially if they are fully considered and debated, and are not last-minute add-ons. Here's a list as compiled by the TA readership:
Dan Seals would have voted AGAINST:
-- The Durbin/Kirk legislation to help schools, written by the leaders of Highland Park, Glenview and North Chicago.
-- $100 million for our Veterns Hospital.
-- O'Hare security upgrades
--$600,000 to research and develop better detection of breast cancer in African-American women for University of Chicago Hospitals
--$536,000 for a therapeutic School and Center for Autism Research
--$30 million earmark for the Metra Connects program which is a coordinated plan to address transportation issues and meet the population explosions within Northeast Illinois, and the Metra's STAR line project to connect the northwest suburbs with O'Hare and downtown.
--Earmarks of $7 million for each of the four major Metra extensions (STAR line, UP West Extension, UP Northwest Line, Southeast Service Line).
-- at Great Lakes Naval Training Center, North Chicago: $26.871 million for infrastructure upgrades ($16.65 million) and a weapons training facility ($10.221 million) at the Great Lakes Naval Training Center.
Sorry, Dan, but you seem to be proving time and time again that you are an amateur at this. Simply railing against "earmarks" smacks of trying to jump on a populist issue by relying on a buzzword, instead of doing actual research to understand the issue. Why would anyone think that you could do a better job at representing this District than Mark Kirk? Especially those of us that aren't millionaires?
A big hat tip to all the TA readers who researched this issue and spent a lot of time compiling the earmark list that Seals opposes.
UPDATED 12/24/07: I mentioned in comments yesterday an interview Charles Krauthammer gave on Fox yesterday concerning our scorecard on the "axis of evil" (North Korea, Iran and Iraq), which has now made it into his syndicated column. It's definitely worth a read for his unconventional look at how our efforts against these countries has turned out.