The anti-pork scorecard: 4 of 5 Oklahoma reps get failing grades

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Logrolling is a time-honored technique for funding projects that couldn't stand up to focused scrutiny. You lump a project of questionable importance in with essential appropriations, so that no one dare vote against it. That setup makes it very hard for a voter to hold his own legislator accountable for wasteful spending.

Here in Oklahoma, the most notable TV ad of the governor's race was from the Bob Sullivan campaign. It featured Gailard Sartain, and it targeted Ernest Istook for supporting federal money for a California tattoo removal program and for bringing gorillas to Kentucky. The ad was successful in bringing attention to the campaign and in raising a question about Istook's record.

Istook was able to rebut the ad by saying that those two votes were part of massive spending packages which included essential projects. He was also able to say that the rest of the Republicans in the Oklahoma delegation voted for the same bills. Every congressman who voted for those bills can use the same excuse. The only congressman who can be definitively tied to the specific pork project is the guy representing the district that's getting the money.

Arizona Republican Congressman Jeff Flake has found a way to put his colleagues on record in support or opposition to wasteful spending. He proposed 19 amendments to appropriations bills, each one of which would have removed funding for a pork project. None of his amendments passed. In fact, 280 congressmen did not vote in favor of a single amendment.

Club for Growth has helpfully collected in one place a summary of how every House member voted on the 19 appropriations amendments Flake offered in late May and June.

Only one Oklahoma congressman gets a passing grade. John Sullivan, representing the 1st District, supported Flake on 16 of 19 votes -- 84% -- which puts him in the top 10 percent of the House.

Ernest Istook voted to cut only six of the 19 pork projects -- 32%, but still better than 82% of his colleagues. Istook's record is just a bit better than the Republican average of 5.1 anti-pork yes votes. (Democrats averaged 0.55 yes votes out of 19.)

The remaining three -- Dan Boren (D-2nd District), Frank Lucas (R-3rd District), Tom Cole (R-4th District) -- voted against all 19 pork-slicing amendments.

The projects that Flake targeted include a half-million-dollar swimming pool in Banning, California, a theater in Plattsburgh, New York, and a science museum in Virginia. They all sound like worthwhile projects, but not matters of national importance. Any funding for these projects should come from local government or the private sector.


Shadow6 said:

Dan Boren is a Republican?

[Some Democratic activists think he may as well be, but, no, you're right, he's a Democrat, and I went a little overboard with the copy-and-paste. I've fixed it now -- thanks.]

IndianCowboy said:

Istook sickens me. I can't explain it but almost by looking at him you can tell what kind of 'republican' he is. It saddens me that he's the GOP candidate for governor.

Henry or Istook? To a paleocon it's like being asked whether you want your left or your right kidney removed.

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This page contains a single entry by Michael Bates published on July 27, 2006 12:42 PM.

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