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Kingston should apologize

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POSTED: October 9, 2007 5:04 a.m.
Rep. Jack Kingston of Savannah says he will not apologize for asking for $83 million in the current federal budget for local projects for Georgia and his district.
Cox Newspapers tell us Kingston is the king of special “earmark” requests in the Georgia delegation. No one else among the Georgia lawmakers even comes close.
“I think when you become a member of the Georgia delegation, you’re supposed to perform, as opposed to grandstand,” he told Cox reporter Julia Malone.
I am fond of Jack. When he was a member of the Georgia House, he looked like a guy who was really going places. He seemed a natural to become a senator. Still, he has done OK for himself in the House. He has been a U.S. representative since 1992 and is a member of several powerful committees.
Alas, despite what Jack says, he owes us Georgians a big fat apology. So do the rest of that sorry lot we have elected to Congress.
Surely Jack doesn’t consider $83 million in federal funds for local projects “performing.” That is not even peanuts; that’s not enough to cover three hours of the Iraq war. When you look at the other current “performers” among the Georgians, I suppose Jack deserves at least a C-minus compared to the rest of our delegation. You have to wonder why a guy like Nathan Deal, who has been a rep for years, can’t find but $1.4 million in federal earmark requests for his mountain district.
The late Congressman Phil Landrum would be having a hissy fit at such a poor showing. Landrum brought tons of federal gold into the Georgia mountains as he managed LBJ’s Appalachian legislation.
What’s wrong with Democrat Rep. David Scott? He has earned national recognition for his covert work with fat-cat lobbyists. Yet, with his party in control, he is asking only $11.6 million for his needy urban-suburban Atlanta district.
You want to hear about earmarks and pork barrel?
Try these examples:
n Sen. Trent Lott once stuck into the budget a barely discussed $375 million “local item” to build a ship in his home state of Mississippi — a fancy vessel the Navy said it did not need and did not want.  
n Sen. Sam Nunn is credited with so much pork that they ought to nickname him “Sugar Sam.” He managed to steal an entire submarine base from New England and plop it down in southeast Georgia. When neighboring South Carolina lost thousands of military positions in a cutback, Georgia picked up most of the lost slots in a Nunn-orchestrated buildup. Now that’s performance.
n Former Reps. Newt Gingrich and Buddy Darden kept Lockheed assembly lines in Marietta humming no matter how lean the times. When Gingrich represented South Metro, he gave the Atlanta airport a virtual blank check on federal funds.  
Please don’t tell us, Jack, that you held down your pork requests in keeping with the Republican tradition to control spending.
The last Congress — the one solidly controlled by Republicans — broke records for piling up deficits and throwing away billions on bridges to nowhere, catnip museums and, of course, a war that is helping Dick Cheney’s business associates move further up the list of Forbes’ 400 multibillionaires.
In another time, we performed an annual journalistic ritual around April 15. We added up all the tax dollars Georgians sent to Washington. Then we measured Georgia’s annual largesse from the feds. Inevitably, our income beat our outgo by ratios of four- and five-to-one. We wrote a news story about another windfall from Washington, followed by a “Happy Days” editorial.
That’s the way it ought to be, Jack, and that’s the way we had it for generations. You don’t really believe Sen. Dick Russell and Rep. Carl “the Admiral” Vinson earned their spurs because of their austerity, do you? No, sirree. They brought home the bacon. That’s why we loved them and kept them in office.
It’s not like we are stealing. We need federal help. We haven’t recovered yet from the licking the Yankees gave us 140 years ago. They destroyed our property, took away our citizenship and did not rescind the last of the regressive Reconstruction laws until the late 1960s.
The feds ought to give us back our money and restore our economic health. Georgia has less clout today in the Congress than at any other time in my memory. So why shouldn’t our elected representatives go for a few more federal bucks?
Jack, my questions to you are: When are you going to start getting us more federal dollars? And when are you going to say you’re sorry for the lousy job and will try to do better?

Contact Shipp at P.O. Box 2520, Kennesaw, GA 30156, or email: shipp1@bellsouth.net
 

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