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  Paul's Column Archive

August 6, 2007

Time for Republicans to Cut Alaska Pork Kings Ted Stevens and Don Young


It simply boggles the mind that so many congressional Republicans, presumably smart and politically savvy people, just do not seem to understand the reason their party got kicked out of power last November. It is just as confounding that the remaining Republicans still embrace such individuals in their ranks.


After years of runaway spending and mounting pork waste, voters finally decided that if Congress is going to throw their money out the window anyway, they might as well let the professional spenders do it. Now that the Democrats are running the show, many Republicans still refuse to seize the opportunity to demonstrate that the GOP can, as it should, represent ethical, conservative principles again.


It certainly does not help things when the archetypal Republican money-wasting sketch ball, Sen. Ted Stevens, is the ranking member on the Senate Appropriations Committee. And as if we needed a slap in the face in addition to a kick in the stomach, Stevens hails from Alaska, one supposedly conservative state where voters have no problem sending Republicans to Congress to funnel money back upcontinent from the remaining 49 states.


Of course, Stevens is not alone. Enter Alaska’s only Representative in the House, Don Young – and note that the word “only” here is quite misleading. Measured by the amount of pork Young tries to bring in, Alaska might as well send half of its population as a congressional delegation (the other half would be busy building bridges to nowhere).


Young recently barked at some of his Republican colleagues for trying to – gulp – cut some of the pork headed toward Alaska. Specifically, he yelled, “You want my money, my money!” before threatening that those who “bite” him would be “bitten back.” His money? Since when did the 49 lower states agree to pool their money and donate it to Alaska?


Apparently we have a welfare system for the states themselves now. I would say Alaska can go find a job, but I don’t want John Edwards knocking at my door to remind me that there are two Americas – one for the states that work hard to produce the tax revenue, and the other for the states that deserve that money because otherwise it’s just not fair!


The only thing is that Alaska wouldn’t necessarily be a stop on Edwards’s poverty tour. As one of the highest-ranking states in GDP per capita, it doesn’t even need the money it’s getting. And when Sen. Stevens is willing to spend $223 million on a bridge that has virtually no purpose whatsoever, chances are there are no other piercing priorities that desperately need the funds.


The revolting behavior of Stevens and Young, among others, has finally raised some red flags. Their activities have put them under investigation for corrupt behavior, and I anxiously await the results. But in all fairness, I wouldn’t point the finger if it turns out that they or their acquaintances have benefited from pork. Seeing that Stevens alone has sucked in over $1,000 in pork for each Alaskan in a single year, it is statistically likely that everyone around him will have benefited at least a little bit.


Stevens, Young and their friends are precisely the reason the Republican Party has failed to see a check with my name on it this year. Theirs are the names that make me cringe when the media associates them with the GOP. And indeed, it is as much the GOP’s fault as it is theirs.


Until porkers like them are cut from the Republican Party, and until congressional Republicans turn around on the pork issue, conservatives such as myself will seek to defeat such individuals as hard as we will try to beat Nancy Pelosi (see: 2006 Rhode Island Republican Senate Primary).


At worst, the more inactive among us may just “forget” to turn out at the polls next November – just like in the last election.


© 2007 North Star Writers Group. May not be republished without permission.


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