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Back to Basics

One of my more “progressive” readers recently took me to task (twice) for never criticizing federal spending levels. Well, allow me to applaud the actions of freshman Senator Tom Coburn of Oklahoma (R):

Mr. Coburn yesterday took to the floor not once, but twice, to force his colleagues to defend some of their more egregious “earmarks,” or pork projects they plan to funnel to home states. The Republican dared to use the “p” word (“priorities”) and suggested that taxpayers might be better served if hurricane relief was offset by deleting earmarks for a sculpture garden in Washington state, an art museum in Nebraska, and a Rhode Island animal shelter, among other national necessities.

Washington Democrat Patty Murray escalated immediately to Defcon 1, vowing that if her colleagues so much as blinked at her sculptures she’d personally see to the untimely demise of their own projects. Mr. Coburn lost 86-13. The miracle is he got 13.

Senator Non Grata returned to the floor later in the day, this time to suggest shifting $223 million from the infamous “bridge to nowhere” in Alaska to a bridge over Lake Pontchartrain that was damaged by Hurricane Katrina. Alaska’s alleged Republican Lisa Murkowski responded that the very idea of refusing to spend $4.5 million per each of the 50 residents on Alaska’s Gravina Island — so that they would no longer have to take a seven-minute ferry — was, well, “offensive.”

You see, like all parents know, it is more productive reinforce the desired behavior than punish the deviant behavior. Way to Senator Coburn!