Tuesday, August 14, 2007

CFG Still Loves ESG

Representative Scott Garrett was the only member of our Congressional Delegation to receive a 100% ranking from the oxymoronically named The Club For Growth (CFG) regarding earmark voting. The reason I say that about their name is that they oppose government spending on pretty much anything, including programs that generate growth or increase efficient use of taxpayer dollars (more on that below).

After reviewing the list of votes chosen by one of Garrett's most consistent campaign backers, several I agree should have been stripped. For example, taxpayers shouldn't be funding a "perfect Christmas Tree" project or an institute named for Representative Charlie Rangel with an earmark from, you guessed it, Representative Charlie Rangel.

However, at least three of the items on the list will actually generate growth and protect the taxpayer dollar. That's why it makes no sense as to why they are on the list or why a group claiming to be pro-growth would praise Garrett for voting against them.

Here were the first two that raised an eyebrow:

House Vote 590 - Bars funding of $231,000 for the Grace Johnstown Area Regional Industries Incubator and Workforce Development program in Pennsylvania. Amendment failed, 87-335.

House Vote 594 - Bars funding of $231,000 for the West Virginia University Research Corporation's renovation of a small-business incubator. Amendment failed, 101-325.

Once again, Garrett (with the CFG cheering him on) backed the elimination of funds to help small businesses thrive and strengthen their community. That's about as anti-growth as you get, considering small businesses generate roughly 75-80% of new jobs and account for more than half of the GDP.

And the other:
House Vote 699 - Bars funding of $400,000 for the North Central Wisconsin Regional Planning Commission in Wausau, WI. Amendment failed, 68-356.
Regional planning Commissions coordinate the efforts of a region so that Federal, State and local money being used in that region is used in the most effective and least wasteful manner. They ensure that those receiving funds are not duplicating services and make sure there is a need for the proposed projects. So in reality, Garrett voted against funding an agency charged with protecting taxpayers. Go figure.


Anonymous said...

Here’s one question: when a regular ole start-up business seeks to ‘open it’s doors’ – and it doesn’t have the luxury of receiving a subsidy -- how in the world does it ever get its start-up capital unless some government is there to provide a handout? Could it be that a regular ole start-up has to rely on private financing by convincing a lender that it has a good business model…enough convincing to alleviate some fears that the lender might have in taking the risk in loaning the money? And if not a lender, then someone to convince that might be willing to finance under the condition that they’ll have an equity stake in the business?
If a large benefit of having regional planning commission is to coordinate the flows of funding by various government entities so as to minimize waste and duplicity, then doesn’t this speak to the inefficiencies of government to begin with? So obviously, government begets more government and the cycle becomes one of perpetually. Just asking, but will the savings that result from catching waste and duplicity be greater than the amount spent to fund the commission?

Good stuff, man. Okay, so that was more than just one question I asked. I just wish their was a Bizzaro Club out there…perhaps, maybe, The Club for Waste.

Anonymous said...

I live in Colorado. Why should I pay for a small-business incubator in Pennsylvania, or a regional planning commission in Wisconsin? If Wisconsin needs a planning commission to coordinate all of the tax money they're wallowing in, then let the citizens of Wisconsin pay for it.

If Rep. Garrett is consistent and would still vote against that planning commission (or a small-business incubator)if it was in New Jersey , then I hope he's your next Senator, and I hope Colorado will elect two more like him.

rmfretz said...

I realize neither of you are regular readers, otherwise you'd know I'm no fan of earmarks.

New Jersey gets the lowest return on our tax dollar. Our return has actually dropped since Garrett went to the House. If we're only going to get 55 cents back on the dollar, I want to make sure the 45 cents we're losing are getting the most bang for the penny.

Which costs taxpayers more; a little help to avoid dumb mistakes or a failed business because of dumb mistakes?

Which costs taxpayers more; a regional planning commission to avoid duplication or a federal bureaucracy to wade through 10s if not 100s of applications from the same area to do the same thing?

Should these things have been left off the bill? Ideally yes. However, this is not an ideal world. We all have things the government spends money on we'd prefer they didn't. For me, I can see a return on investment in these three programs.

There's also billions worth of corporate welfare spending Garrett's defended lately where there is no return for the vast majority of taxpayers. So my taking issue with this is also a reflection of frustration at the fact he's being lauded praise for fighting small, yet good investments, while not taking on the bigger issue of taxpayers being ripped off.

Anonymous said...

Why is the first inclination to advocate to legislate for more government to oversee previously established government?

Obviously, this is not an ideal situation and there are realities that are difficult to break through. However, with that written, why is not the default position to advocate eliminating the previous government entity(ies) that were created that cannot perform efficiently or as good stewards of the people's money? WHY?

In addition to that, you have this little gem: "Which costs taxpayers more; a little help to avoid dumb mistakes or a failed business because of dumb mistakes?"

Let me ask you something; do I seem like the type of person that is interested in using tax-payer money for bailing out businesses for their failings and mistakes?

rmfretz said...

To your first point: it's not so much an expansion as a firewall of sorts. These commissions do not just deal with local, county and state government; they also deal with non-profits as well. I'm not sure if you've ever filled out a federal grant or not, but they are massive. The idea behind requiring these commissions to sign off on projects is to stop every non-profit under the sun from inundating the government with requests for funds to be reviewed.

I’ve been on both sides of the coin, an agency that received funds through the commission process and one that was rejected. In both cases, we were the best agency in the county for the job; however we were one of a half dozen in each case who, in theory, could have sent an application to the government. Multiply that nationwide, for every grant, and you can see where the reduction of applications becomes a cost savings to taxpayers.

Eventually, those who are not up to snuff locally to compete against their peers will be defunded and shut down. I'm infinitely more comfortable with these sorts of reviews going on locally and regionally instead of in Washington.

To your second point: No, however, we pay for failures in terms of resources that could have gone somewhere else and job loss. If a little help at the beginning can help reduce that loss by helping those involved avoid dumb mistakes, at least in my mind, it’s worth it in terms of jobs and the economic growth that comes with them.

The investment in an incubator is smaller, and rewards those who can succeed. Eventually, you have to leave the incubator and sink or swim. This is a stark contrast to guaranteeing a profit margin regardless of management or performance, as taxpayers have been doing the last few years in both education loans and medicare overpayments.

Anonymous said...

In each case, you suggest that a collection of do-gooders, working for the collective and certainly altruistic, is going to produce results better than that of individuals in the market place pursuing what they believe to be their own self interests, each of whom are weighing risks on their own personal calculus.

When are enough do-gooders, and the agencies they work for [http://www.lib.lsu.edu/gov/tree], enough?

rmfretz said...

I think there are plenty of real world examples that point to the fact that in some cases they will and in some cases they won't. The idea is to minimize or eliminate the instances where they won't and make sure that the cases where they will are done well.