Case in point, is the self-revering, very senior Senator from West Virginia, Robert Byrd. Now at age 90, this “old Byrd” has become the longest serving member of the United States Senate.
He has also fought a good battle to become the pork barrel king, by bringing more money to his home state than any other Senator.
In a recent expose of this one Senator’s lust to bring home the federal treasury to his own state, the “CBS Evening News with Katie Couric” recently profiled his actions in a story titled, Byrd “Droppings” In West Virginia: Why Are So Many Of Your Tax Dollars Going To Dedicate Buildings To A Senate Earmark King?
In the story, Byrd was exposed as bringing home more than $3 Billion (that’s “B” for Billion) federal tax dollars to his beloved West Virginia. But that is only part of the story. It was also revealed that Byrd has nearly 50 of those federally funded projects named after him. Whether it is a telescope, a bridge, a highway or a dam, this “Byrd’s” name is all over them.
Byrd, at the opening of the Robert C. Byrd Biotech Center, to which he generously gave $35.6 million of your tax dollars, stood before the crowd of Byrd watchers and proclaimed that he was their “Big Daddy”. The Senator went on to pontificate: “Our effort to construct this facility and create a stronger foundation for the biotech industry here in West Virginia began where? With a visit to my office. Yeah. Yeah man. A visit to my office, yeah.”
The arrogance of this guy is amazing. He has no shame about bragging of his own self-importance, but instead makes certain that all should know he is the one you need to see if you intend to do anything in West Virginia.
Don’t get me wrong, there are plenty more of these bloated-ego buffoons running around the halls of the Congress. Let’s not forget another long-time member of the Senate, Ted Stevens from Alaska, who can boast being the Senate’s longest serving Republican. And with that title, has brought home more than his share of the federal treasury to his own electorate in the “Last Frontier” state.
Investigations into all this money ending up in Alaska has exposed all kinds of illegalities, cronyism and left poor old Ted the focus of an FBI investigation.
The real crime here is that nothing is abnormal at all about Senators and Congressman trying to bring the spoils of the victory of their influence. In my state, Montana’s two Senators have both sent out year end newsletters bragging about how much money they sent back to Montana.
Newly elected, Senator Jon Tester brags about helping to bring home more than $142 million in just his first year in the Senate.
Senator Max Baucus even boasts in his newsletter about “bringing home the bacon”. Do you get it? “Bringing home the bacon” a.k.a. Pork Barrel politics. This is not new, it is an ongoing problem. And if the problem is the undue influence of the seniority system in the Congress, then the solution has got to be term limits. There would be no worries about the needs for campaign finance reform if we had term limits for all Members of Congress. There would be no more “Big Daddy’s” ring to kiss if there were no particular “Big Daddy.”
Robert Byrd’s office says “he has every intention of continuing” to send your money home to West Virginia. Meaning he will continue to rule over those less senior Senators who don’t carry the clout he does. Why do “old Byrds” like Robert and others like Strom Thurmond, Ted Stevens and Ted Kennedy, think the Senate can’t live without them?
We deserve so much better from our elected representatives and we shouldn’t allow the treasury to be raided on the behalf of a few who need to see their names in lights. Federal projects should be judged on their merit and need, not on the need of a few “old Byrds” desires of immortality.
Editor’s note: Dan Rostad’s weekly blogs are part of NewWest.Net/Politics’ “Diary of a Mad Voter” feature, a group blog, published in partnership with the Denver Post’s Politics West intended give a glimpse into the hearts and minds of several independent-minded voters and thinkers in the Rocky Mountain West in the ’08 election cycle. For more columns check in with www.newwest.net/madvoter. And for more information on each of the bloggers, click here.