Home > Politics > Shelby pushes for his own personal porkulus

Shelby pushes for his own personal porkulus

There’s plenty of things to be frustrated about in the latest bit of news from Senator Richard Shelby and his pork grab. 

My first reaction is best summed up by Marc Ambinder:

Seems to me that if you’re a party frustrated by procedural roadblocks erected by Republicans, if you’ve lost a Senate race in part because of a trade known as the Cornhusker Kickback, if the White House communications director gently (but actually) upbraids Republicans for their out-sized penchant for filibustering, if you’re trying to really hammer the point home that the reason why it seems that your party can’t govern or get results is due to factors beyond your control… you’d turn Richard Shelby’s unprecedented blanket hold on 70 nominees for reasons no more pure than the preservations of two favorite programs into not only a talking point… but also a way of justifying recess appointments for these nominees.

Last year, when Congressional Republicans began posturing themselves as fiscal conservatives in the face of the impending stimulus bill, one of the battles between them and the Democrats was over earmarks.  Remember, it had been one of John McCain’s biggest pet peeves during the 2008 campaign—“gotta stop the pork” and all that. 

In a time where the Republicans’ resurgent conservatism is starting to differentiate it from incumbent Democrats, this doesn’t help at all.   What it does, as Ambinder notes, is give the Democrats and the White House a new talking point and a reason to wag their finger.

I always felt the issue of earmarks was a double-edged sword for politicians.  One of the primary functions of elected congressmen is to represent their constituents.  The word “represent” thrown around recklessly, but in reality it means “representation” in the federal budget.  In other words—bringing home the moolah.

In this case Shelby, who was a big opponent of the stimulus and the earmarks it included, is making an ass of himself demanding that the Feds pull out all the stops and demanding that this contract be award so as to benefit his home state.  Fair enough.  But let’s not pretend we don’t know where this is all coming from:

While by all accounts a Northrop Grumman contract would create significant numbers of jobs in his home state, Shelby’s initiative is also a move to secure funding for a company that has long funded him. The fourth-term Senator has received at least $108,233 in PAC contributions to his political campaigns and leadership PAC from Northrop Grumman’s corporate PACs. This includes contributions, dating back to his first Senate election in 1986, from the company’s political action committee and from the PACs of companies that are now part of Northrop Grumman.

It’s stories like this that drive me nuts about politics.  Sure, bringing jobs to your state should be is priority number one for politicians, but I can’t help but feel queasy about all of this.  It’s what most Americans hate about politicians—the smugness, the ambivalence brought on by the eternal incumbency in the US Senate.

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