Guestposter Jake Sherman on the only Minnesota pol to disclose his/her earmarks

June 25th, 2007 – 7:14 AM by D.J. Tice

Washington reporter Sherman found one Minnesota member eager to disclose requests, another opposed to the idea, and most mum:

CNN’s look at earmarks in Washington has put pressure on members of Congress to disclose requests for program-specific funding.

Earmarks are items inserted into bills that provide funding for projects in a member’s district.

The network, styling the inquiry as a kind of test of the new Congress’s stated commitment to openness, said it asked all members of the House for their earmark requests and fewer than 100 have responded. tim_walz1.jpg

Rep. Tim Walz, first-term Democrat from Minnesota’s First District, released all of his 38 earmark requests.

Rep. Jim Oberstar, the veteran Democrat from the Eighth District, chairman of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, will not release any earmarks, a spokesperson said.

oberstar.jpg“Jim’s position is he wants to have a situation where a member is free to make a request, explore the option to see if he can get the funding and if there’s some reason it can’t go forward they can’t be blamed,” said John Schadl, Oberstar’s press secretary.

Walz’s camp took a completely different approach.

“If it’s something our district is interested in, we’re glad to release it,” said Meredith Salsbery, Walz’s communication director.

As of the end of last week, no other members from Minnesota had responded one way or another to CNN.

Jake Sherman

10 Responses to "Guestposter Jake Sherman on the only Minnesota pol to disclose his/her earmarks"

Bill Prendergast says:

June 25th, 2007 at 8:26 am

Well…since I “do Bachmann,” I can tell you about one of hers.

Rep. Michele Bachmann (6th District) has become a kind of “point man” on the subject of earmarks in the GOP. This is only natural, since Bachmann has always posed as an anti-spending, tax-cutting conservative and she’s new to Congress–unlike the GOP conservatives who got trounced last time, she can’t have any “history of earmark spending”–and therefore can’t look hypocritical on the subject–no history, no earmarks, no problem denouncing them–right?

No, not really. Year after year Bachmann has been a supporter of a proposed federal project called the Stillwater Bridge. This would run a new bridge across the St. Croix river from the Stillwater area to western Wisconsin. It would involve hundreds of millions in tax dollars spent in her district. And Bachmann, apparently, doesn’t regard this as the kind of pork barrel project she denounces when Dems are involved.

What is odd is that the proposed pork will ultimately kill off business and diminish employment in her own district.
(Usually the theory behind earmarks and pork is that they *increase* the prosperity in the politician’s district, and thus insured the politician’s re-election.) But Bachmann’s project is different. Instead of being “the end of the line”, the areas adjoining a new bridge in her district would become mere roadside along the commute to final destinations: the Minnesota Metro area, or western Wisconsin.

Result: the land in Wisconsin rises in value (The Bachmann family owns land in western Wisconsin, but that just may be a coincidence.) But the prospects of Minnesota businesses in Bachmann’s district decrease, as traffic flies through the area along a busy highway instead of stopping. (The first exit off the proposed bridge would be about a mile into Wisconsin, if you’re the land speculating type.)

You can see why legislators in Wisconsin would be hot for this particular hundreds-of-millions of federal taxpayer dollars pork barrel spending–but why is Bachmann so hot for it? She normally opposes eminent domain “takings” of property (as would be necessary for the project)–and why “pork it up” if it’s going to kill off jobs and long term prosperity in her adopted hometown?

O.T. says:

June 25th, 2007 at 8:41 am

If I didn’t know better, I would say Bill has a crush on the lovely Michelle. It reminds me alot of in kindergarten when the boy would torment the little girl he secretly liked. Bill, do you have a wall in your house with surveillance photos and clippings of her- you are obsessed and it borders on the deranged.

I am quite sure Stillwater would not fall off the map if a second bridge was installed. as i remember, the traffic over there is terrible and any lessening of it should be done.

Bill Prendergast says:

June 25th, 2007 at 9:46 am

You go through that last post of mine on Michele and YOU tell ME where the “sex angle” is in that story.

Pork isn’t sexy.

Michael Blaine says:

June 25th, 2007 at 10:44 am

Excellent post, Bill.

As for federal spending, the more transparent the better.

Also, check out my constructive bashing of Barack Obama and the Democrats at Rudely Stamped.

Michael Blaine

O.T. says:

June 25th, 2007 at 2:09 pm

I don’t know about that- I love a good piece of crisp bacon.

Cash N. Carey says:

June 25th, 2007 at 6:56 pm

BP – I believe it was the dems who campaigned against earmarks last time. Don’t believe that Michele is a dem. O.T. – What drives someone to be that obsessed with someone? You say love, I say hate.

O.T. says:

June 25th, 2007 at 10:55 pm

I agree, but I was just making a funny about Bill.

Bill Prendergast says:

June 26th, 2007 at 12:43 am


FYI–I’m not a Dem or DFL’r. I *am* liberal, which means that I’m not necessarily against earmarks/pork barrel spending/ethanol subsidies, etc.

Because I’m a liberal, I understand how federal spending often drives local economies. Because I’m a liberal–I don’t believe that that is necessarily a bad thing.

It IS a bad thing if the earmark money 1) is for a useless project, like the Alaskan “bridge to nowhere,” or if 2) the earmark spending ultimately hurts the people of the district rather than helps them. This second case is the case with Bachmann’s support for federal funds for a new bridge in Stillwater.

There are lots of cases where earmark spending is justified to stimulate local economies and keep them going. Most voters at the district level simply don’t realize how dependent their local economy is on that spending. (This is why former GOP Congressman Mark Kennedy proudly listed all the federal pork he brought into his district on his website under the name “Mark Kennedy delivers for the district.”)

What bugs me is conservative hypocrisy about earmarks. It’s okay when the GOP spends money we haven’t got on projects to keep their local economies going–when liberal Dems do the very same thing they talk about it as if it’s some kind of crime or something.

Mark Gisleson says:

June 26th, 2007 at 10:56 am

Cash, unlike the kowtowing lockstep right, many of us on the left don’t hesititate to criticize our own when we don’t like what they do. Based on your writings here, I think you owe Bill an explanation of WHY Bachmann’s bridge to Wisconsin is a good thing for Minnesotans.

Or do you just play the partisan harp and have no actual substance to your comments?

parthian says:

June 26th, 2007 at 7:47 pm

“Cash…do you just play the partisan harp and have no actual substance to your comments?”

Boy, is that a rhetorical question.

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