Thursday, July 19, 2007

Garrett vs. Young - Observations

So Representative Don Young exploded on our Representative Scott Garrett. Young has a reputation as a brawler, and also the King of House Pork. His "my money" thing is how he operates, and the threats are normal for him.

Rolling Stone ranked Young third on their list of 10 Worst Congressmen. From that article:

Such coarseness is a Young hallmark. He once called environmentalists a "self-centered bunch of waffle-stomping, Harvard-graduating, intellectual idiots" who "are not Americans, never have been Americans, never will be Americans." And during a debate on the right of native Alaskans to sell the sex organs of endangered animals as aphrodisiacs, Young whipped out the eighteen-inch penis bone of a walrus and brandished it like a sword on the House floor.

If, in fact, Garrett introduced this amendment without talking with Young about it, a Republican known for this sort of stuff, how could anybody be surprised by his explosion?

What agitates me the most about this isn't Garrett's act to pull the funds; Garrett doesn't want the Federal government involved in education and he hates earmarks, so this action was his standard operating procedure (SOP).

However, this event highlights other SOPs of Garrett that should worry the rest of us:

First, you have the fact he would target a fellow member on the House floor, of his own caucus no less, without giving the courtesy of a heads up. Garrett should have talked to the Representatives of Alaska and Hawaii first, or introduced an amendment to strip all the earmarks.

Second, you have his initial weak, confused and self-centered response. Try as they might, his aides could not take the deer caught in the headlights look off his face. A member of the House slams the reputation of our State and our Congressmen and the first thing Garrett tries to do is defend himself. Give me a break. I appreciated the response that came later, and I'm hoping it had some passion with it as opposed to Garrett's usually flat delivery.

Third, and this is a big one: institutional ignorance. When Young talks about "killing" other Congressmen, he's not kidding. Young is a prolific fundraiser, and he spreads a lot of cash around to other members running for office and the national party. Last election cycle, his campaign committee doled out $231,000, with his Leadership PAC handing out another $159,328; compared to Garrett's $0 from his campaign and not having a Leadership PAC. Also, Young's total does not include the lobbyist directed funds from those lobbyists he has relationships with, such as big oil.

As wrong as it is, and symbolic of how sick Washington has become, this is where Young derives his power from on the Hill and how he's been able to get all those pork projects at the expense of New Jersey's taxpayers. With Republicans only getting 40% of earmarked funds at this point, now the projects our District needs federal funds for (like the 287 and Rt. 17 exchange renovation) have a bulls eye on them.

Garrett needs to fight for reform, but he has to be smart about it: you don't do it by surprise and you sure don't pick your first fight over funding for poor kids. The manner in which Garrett did this was a first week Freshman Representative's error that our third term Congressman should have had the foresight to realize his actions have the distinct possibility of further hurting our District. Garrett's amendment went down in flames, with even the rest of the New Jersey delegation voting against it. However, the damage this effort could do to our District may last much longer than a ten minute spitting match on the floor of the House.

Thanks, Scott.

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