Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Sen. Voinovich missed an opportunity

Sen. George Voinovich toured areas of Northwest Ohio yesterday, viewing flood damage and meeting with officials to discuss their response to the storms and their needs going forward.

According to this Blade article, Voinovich says our nation's spending priorities are wrong, bashing the spending in Iraq while criticizing the President for trimming "infrastructure-related budgets - those that deal with items such as rivers, highways, and bridges - because they are too costly."

Voinovich said, "he is frustrated because Americans don't realize how vulnerable the country's infrastructure is and how far behind improvements are.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, which addresses flood control, is operating with less federal money and too few engineers, he said

Unfortunately, Sen. Voinovich seems to have forgotten that the President doesn't spend the money, Congress does. The President requests and submits budgets, but it's Congress who makes the final decision.

And the opportunity the Senator missed? His vote on the recently passed Transportation bill.

I've previously blogged about Sen. Tom Coburn's amendments to cut pork out of this bill. Sen. Coburn's amendment to halt earmarks until all deficient bridges and roads were repaired failed. His amendment to eliminate federal spending on bike paths also failed. His amendment to remove three specific earmarks (baseball stadium, peace garden and tourist 'discovery' center) totaling $1.35 million also failed. In fact, the pork in this bill totaled $8 Billion - yes, Billion with a B - and that's 13.5% of the Transportation Department's $63 billion spending plan.

According to all media reports I could find, Sen. Voinovich voted against these three amendments and then voted for the bill, basically agreeing that $8 billion in pork was more important than other priorities of the federal government - like the Army Corps of Engineers which he says is short money and engineers.

Sen. Voinovich certainly got good press coverage by comparing spending in Iraq to spending on infrastructure, especially in The Blade. But his complaint sounds a bit hollow when his actual votes are taken into consideration.

If it's true that Congress has their spending priorities mixed up - and I'm the first to agree this is the case - it's because of votes like those cast by Voinovich. Sen. Voinovich - if you're going to complain about lack of funds for priorities, you need to vote against non-constitutional spending like baseball stadiums, peace gardens and bike paths.


John Spalding said...

What I want to know is, Is Voinovich correct in asserting
that the Iraq War is taking away from resources that could be going to the US Army Corps. of Engineers(article cites this group as responsible for flood control)? To me that assertion seems accurate and lies in the realm of the department of defense. The article says they do not have enough funding our volunteers. I can see the point of your critique of George on his voting record, but is he wrong about the military funding?

Maggie Thurber said...

John - I think Voinovich presents a fallacious argument. If you do a google search on fallacious arguments, you'll see these two examples:

"Excluded Middle (False Dichotomy, Faulty Dilemma, Bifurcation):
assuming there are only two alternatives when in fact there are more. For example, assuming Atheism is the only alternative to Fundamentalism, or being a traitor is the only alternative to being a loud patriot.

Short Term Versus Long Term:
this is a particular case of the Excluded Middle. For example, "We must deal with crime on the streets before improving the schools." (But why can't we do some of both?) Similarly, "We should take the scientific research budget and use it to feed starving children."

I just took his fallacious argument (Iraq versus Corps) and used it in a different way (pork vs. infrastructure) to point our the error of the position.

I believe that anyone who makes the argument that we're spending too much in one area versus another needs to look at the totality of their own votes to be sure they are acting consistently and not just making fallacious arguments because it 'sounds good.'

From my libertarian-leaning conservative stance, national defense is a duty of the federal government and it is appropriate to spend money on such (discussion about the necessity of such action, aside). Much of the other expenditures our federal government makes are not authorized in the limited powers detailed in the Constitution.

So, rather than opine as to the correctness of Voinovich's claim, I'd have to make sure that mandatory responsibilities were first being met and that all other spending had been eliminated. If that were the case and we were then faced with a lack of funds, the discussion of how to split such limited funds among the Constitutional duties would be needed. At that point, I'd refer back to the fallacy of the arguments above - why can't you do both, but at smaller levels of funding?

Tim Higgins said...

One has to wonder why Sen. Voinovich bothers to stay in the Republican Party. I would expect this kind of two-faced, grandstanding from a liberal Democrat, but would expect better from someone who claimed to be a Conservative and a Republican.

One can only assume that Sen. Voinovich is trying to get well out ahead of the crowd by bashing the Bush Administration and pandering to the left at the same time. One has to wonder however, what his ultimate motives might be?

Robin said...

Hmmm... maybe he thought the "yes" vote meant "no"...

Maggie Thurber said...

lol - Robin...

But I don't know what would be worse: a conscious decision to support pork or the inability to know what vote you need to cast in order to express your position...

Kurt said...

Since when is the obvious need for infrastructure spending considered pork?

Maggie, simply put, fallacious means false from its simple latin basis. I find it outrageous that you use such a simple term to make it so divisive. There are more than two examples to define falsity. The largest falsity being that Reagan detroyed communism, but hey, we're not here to fight. We all know David Hasselhoff did it.

By the way, I love how I retired from blogging, but such nonsense brings me back.

Maggie Thurber said...

Kurt - I didn't criticize the infrastructure spending - but the pork...and no matter how you slice it, peace gardens, baseball stadiums and tourist 'discovery' centers don't meet the criteria for 'critical infrastructure' like roads and bridges.

And, again, google search falacious arguments - you'll see the description of the types of fallacious arguments, including Excluded Middle (False Dichotomy, Faulty Dilemma, Bifurcation). And that's the argument Voinovich presented when he criticized spending in one area (Iraq) versus spending in another area (infrastructure) 'falsely' presented an either-or situation versus something in between. (go dig out your logic class notes...lol)

Further, if Voinovich was really that concerned about such infrastructure, he wouldn't have supported spending money on a peace garden, a baseball stadium or a 'discovery' center for tourists.

I think, Kurt, we both agree that infrastructure - and any other mandatory duties of the federal government should take priority over other spending.

Ben said...

Pretty much everything he does these days is wrong.

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