Tuesday, November 08, 2011

EDITORIAL >> Boozman likes stimulus here

The old English proverb “you can’t have your cake and eat it, too” may be right, but in politics there’s no harm in trying. Our junior U. S. senator, John Boozman, is the most adept or at least the most consistent at trying.

You will remember back in June Boozman gave a pep talk to people interested in the Bayou Meto Basin Project. They need $614 million in federal assistance—“government spending” in the lexicon of the day—to complete the big irrigation project that will nourish farms facing a dwindling water supply.

Boozman was in a spot be-cause he had joined Republican party bosses in condemning federal spending and promising to give up “earmarks,” the individual appropriations by members of Congress to benefit their districts. Boozman had championed earmarks when he was in the House of Representatives.

So he told the Bayou Meto partisans that they needed to get President Obama to include the irrigation money in his budget. But those projects don’t get into executive budgets.

All the money so far has come from congressional earmarks. So the implicit message from the senator was, I’m for you, but I’m not going to help you, and if you don’t get the money blame President Obama, not me.

Last week, he joined other Republicans in voting against an omnibus appropriation that included $60 million for the National Center for Toxicological Research at Pine Bluff. He’s against all that federal spending, you see.

But for the consumption of people back in Arkansas, the senator’s spokesman issued a statement saying that he was extremely pleased to see money in the bill for the research center.

Some people might not know that he actually voted to stop the spending at the center. His vote is all that counts; a statement is meaningless.

Then the Jonesboro Sun reported this week that a representative of Senator Boozman showed up at a meeting there on the federal program to provide money to help people insulate their homes and lower their energy bills.

It was part of President Obama’s big 2009 stimulus package, which Boozman condemned as wasteful and useless. Jonesboro officials praised the president’s stimulus, which doubled the amount available for weatherization and created numerous jobs in the region.

Boozman’s representative said the senator was vitally interested in those kinds of programs, which he said could better people’s lives. The representative did not mention that Boozman had actually opposed it.

If he were pressed, we imagine he would explain that he is only opposed to spending money in other states.

Do you call that statesmanship or raw opportunism?

Ernie Dumas writes editorials for The Leader.