Thursday, June 12, 2008

MN-01 : Davis Press Release – Blame Walz First

Dr. Brian Davis, the Republican candidate for Minnesota’s First District, may be a political newcomer but he has already exhibiting great skill at staying on his talking points …. regardless of the subject.

Davis’ press release starts “(Winona, MN) - Despite appearing at the closed Highway 43 Bridge in Winona near the Mississippi river, Congressman Tim Walz has failed to propose any real solutions to our transportation needs, especially as it concerns finding relief for working families in southern Minnesota and the burden of high gas prices.

From the topic of the bridge closing, Davis then immediately switches to promoting his vision of energy policy and fails to address the infrastructure that is the immediate problem.

In politics, jabbing the opponent is norm, but at least stay on the subject at hand !

Addressing Minnesota infrastructure is a problem that starts at the State level which is why MNDOT closed the bridge. Congress has some responsiblity, but the State is generally the first on the scene.

Congressman Walz going to the bridge site is not an election year ploy as Dr. Davis implies. Walz has been “boots on the ground” whenever emergencies impact the District. Somehow, I suspect that all those years in the National Guard - being ready to respond to the State’s needs - has something to do with it.
Yes, Walz was there … but he also brought the Chairman of the House Transportation Committee… seeing first hand and engaging the right people are a mark of competency.

It’s odd that Davis whose mantra is for a limited government and promises in his campaign website to eliminate the practice of Congressional ‘earmarks’ would use the Hwy 43 bridge as a backdrop.

Davis confuses “earmarks” with “pork barrel” spending projects. “Earmarks” are Congressional authorization for a specific project. Congress appropriates funds and without earmarks then the Administration can spend the monies as them deem necessary. When members of Congress record an earmark, it forces those funds to be spent on that project. Are there “pork barrel" projects … absolutely ! For years, many projects were hidden from public view which is why former Congressman Duke Cunningham (R-CA) is now in jail. (Oh, and it also allowed Charlie Wilson (D-TX) to get funding for the Afghanistan rebels versus the Soviet Union.)

Earmarks can be a good investment and those that fail to utilize the system, fail our state’s infrastructure needs. For example, consider Congressman John Kline (R-MN-02) and the Hastings bridge. Listen to the words of Kline’s challenger, Steve Sarvi. "We've got a bridge in Hastings over the Mississippi that's in danger of falling down and now is when we need a Representative in Congress who will deliver the district an earmark and get this bridge rebuilt. Our infrastructure is crumbling all over the district and Kline has done nothing. This wouldn't be some kind of bridge to nowhere, it's desperately needed. Look, I'm not scared of spending money," Steve stated. "There are many things we need to spend money on like that bridge in Hastings. I'm more concerned with wasting money."

And that’s the difference between “pork barrel spending” and “earmarks”. The solution is TRANSPARENCY. For example, Congressman Walz has issued a list of 47 "earmark" requests for 2009 appropriations totaling $211,509, 561. Some are repeats from last year, such as improvements to Highway 14, the Lewis and Clark Rural Water System that would pipe Missouri River water to southwestern Minnesota, etc.and some new ones, including the four-lane expansion of 55th Street in Rochester, the dredging and restoration of Lake Zumbro, etc.
You don’t get everything you need, but the First District needs a Congressman that will keep going back to get our monies.
As Walz explained “Minnesota sends more money to Washington that it gets back, and it’s appropriate for us to advocate for the good use of tax dollars (in the district.)”

That’s the key … appropriations need to be open and above board. Walz is a co-sponsor of resolutions to address transparency in appropriations.

The awareness of transparency in appropriations is not only championed by Walz, but also Senators Barak Obama and John McCain who recently offered S. 3077 - the Strengthening Transparency and Accountability in Federal Spending Act of 2008. Senator Obama said "We should do everything we can to ensure that the American public can easily access and track how the Federal government does its business."

As a voter, that’s what I want. Republicans and Democrats working together in a transparent government serving the people’s needs … not a newbie politician spewing talking points to advance his personal ideology.

And as a postscript, Dr. Davis should be aware that the Highway 43 Bridge will re-open shortly ... and that Congressman Walz will continue fighting for funds !

Hat Tip to Evil Bobby for alerting us to the Dr. Brian Davis election strategy.

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