Friday, March 6, 2009
Pork: The Other White Meat
The retirement of Senator Kit Bond, a senior ranking member of the Appropriations Committee, creates both an opportunity and a dilemma for those vying to fill that vacancy in the United States Senate. Love him or hate him, Jackson County has benefited from his tenure in the senate.
Bond was instrumental in securing funding for the IRS Service Center, the Whittaker Federal Courthouse, as well as funding for city transportation and infrastructure. My sisters in the women's community complain that he is "bad for women." Well, clearly he does not recognize sovereignty over one's body as a basic human right as we do, but Bond, along with Congressman Emmanuel Cleaver, backed appropriations that fund domestic violence prevention programs and treatment programs for victims of sexual assault.
Senator McCaskill is leading the charge for pork reform. She co-sponsored a bill that calls for transparency, clearer rules and increased restrictions on the appropriations process. It's good legislation, but it signals and unwillingness to bring home the bacon.
Republican candidate for that senate seat Roy Blunt was a principal in the Tom Delay holy trinity of politics, power and profit. Yet now we see him standing in stern solidarity behind a bronze John Boehner as Congressman Boehner bemoans "porkulous."
Democratic candidate Robin Carnahan has a track record of being both progressive and pragmatic. Will she get on the pork reform bandwagon?
So, where does this leave Missouri in 2010 if the appropriations process remains the same? Senator McCaskill will not participate in an appropriations process that "is about power and party." Although one of the two candidates will prevail in this race and earn a seat in the senate, neither will assume Bond's muscle as it relates to appropriations. Maybe the time is right for both Missouri senators to embrace pork reform, but can Missouri afford this?
Robin Carnahan and Roy Blunt will have to stake out a position on this issue that is good for the state and good for the country. They can either draw a contrast between themselves and Senator McCaskill or join the fight for pork reform. Either way it will have to be addressed, as Senator Bond will leave some big ol' pork prints to fill!