Would (or could) Rossi have earmarked money for the Howard Hanson Dam?

Voters are being presented with a stark contrast in this year’s U.S. Senate race, with incumbent Sen. Patty Murray campaigning on her record of earmarking federal dollars for crucial local projects, while Republican challenger Dino Rossi is campaigning against earmarks… you know, on principle.

And yet…

Emergency repairs made last year to the Howard Hanson Dam have reduced the chance the Green River will flood low-lying areas of Kent, Renton, Auburn and Tukwila, the Army Corps of Engineers said Monday.

Further improvements planned through mid-2012 should allow the dam to be filled to capacity.

Of course, those further improvements are being paid for courtesy of a $44 million earmark inserted into a defense appropriations bill by Sen. Murray. Some, like Rossi, might call that “pork.” But I’m guessing not the tens of thousands of residents and businesses downstream.

Yet another reason why to reelect a senator who has already proven what she can do for our region.

Comments

  1. 1

    Poster Child spews:

    Do you really think any residents or business owners in Kent, Renton, Auburn, and Tukwilla have any idea how close to disaster they were or make any link between Murray and the benefits of Federal spending in our area and their continuing safety?

    Goldy, I’ve been to Kent, Renton, Auburn, and Tukwilla, and I assure you they’re outside the Seattle bubble.

  2. 2

    MikeBoyScout spews:

    What’s a little disastrous flooding in comparison to a man’s deeply held principled beliefs crock of crap promises to flimflam the WINGNUT base?

    And even if the flooding would happen, think about all the distressed properties which could be had. Probably someone could make some jack giving lectures on buying the poor under insured flooded fools out.

    Gotta think bigger if you want to think like Helmet-hair-Hamlet!

  3. 3

    rhp6033 spews:

    Remember that the industries along the Green River watershed, especially those in Auburn, Kent,Tukwilla, and Renton, are the employers of tens of thousands of residents throughout the region. Last year Boeing had multiple facilities in the area with temporary barriers installed in the hope that they could hold back flooding, if any occured.

    What would have happened if Boeing incurred tens of millions of dollars in damage as it’s facilities in that area were flooded, and employees were laid off for weeks until the floodwaters resided and the damage was repaired? Expensive avionic equipment doesn’t react particularly well when exposed to water, and would generally have to be scrapped.

    Rossi’s position is indefensible, especially with respect to the repairs to the Robert Hansen dam. But I guess it’s not really a surprise, because it’s the only argument he’s got. He can’t very well claim that he could do better than Murray at bringing home the bacon. Even if he were inclined to do so, and had the ability to throw some sharp elbows in the fight for funding, he’d still have to serve at least three terms and have his party in control of Congress and the Presidency to have the same power Patty Murray holds now.

    We can’t wait until 2022, or much later, to receive our fair share of our taxpayer money for projects in Washington State.

  4. 4

    spews:

    Poster Child @1,

    Then it’s up to the media to educate them, isn’t it? You know, rather than just writing about how government needs to scale back, the Seattle Times, for example, needs to present a more nuanced depiction of what this election means on the ground.

  5. 5

    clarlynn spews:

    Righties make a habit of voting against thier own interets, even if their own home or business is about to be flooded into Puget Sound.

    Those same people don’t know what Patty Murray has done or means to Washington state …or they can’t (don’t?) read. That’s the only reason I can think of why someone would actually vote for Rossi.

  6. 6

    notaboomer spews:

    how many billions did murray check off on for state department’s special ops contractors or obama’s afpak surge of death to get the dam money?

  7. 7

    Michael spews:

    95% Of my brain says Go Murray and realizes that we need the dam and everything it protects. But, there is that other 5% of my brain that remembers the Auburn valley before the highway went in and the ticky-tacky homes and tilt-up, concrete, boxes were built. That 5% is rooting for a big old flood.

  8. 8

    lostinaseaofblue spews:

    The problem with pork isn’t whether a slick operator like Murray can play the system.

    The problem Rossi articulates is that the system has to be played at all. The problem is that money for a state project is paid for by the feds at all. The problem is that this spending is tacked to a defense appropriations bill. It could as easily have been attached to any other non-related bill.

    How are we supposed to have accountability for taxpayer money when corrupt games like this are being played? And sorry, I’m far from idolizing the kind of politician who plays them well. Quite the reverse.

    And that’s what the fight about earmarks is about, accountability. You liberals could run all of your badly thought out social welfare programs if we simply cut the waste and fraud in existing programs. You’d have plenty of money to balance the budget and still destroy our culture with your social engineering for idiots, if we did this. And make no mistake, spending federal money on local projects is fraud.

  9. 9

    czechsaaz spews:

    “and make no mistake, spending federal money on local projects is fraud.”

    So, the FAA (Hmm, it says federal in there) is in responsible for traffic and safety of airports. So if the Port of Seattle needs to re-pave the runway at Boeing field, asking the feds to help pay is fraud? Modernizing the port is strictly the resposibility of the state? Fixing damns built by the army corp is strictly a local issue?

  10. 10

    lostinaseaofblue spews:

    We in Western Washington think the Howard Hansen dam is critical. Fine. What projects that are more critical in the larger scheme of things got passed over so that Murray could put out an election ad? What communties were put at risk so that she could score a few political points?

    These federal projects should be administered by the appropriate federal agency, not rail-roaded by a person like Murray who would be unemployable in real life. Typically for leftist politicians her resume shows a couple of government employed jobs worked for a couple of years each. On the bright side, she has a better resume than the president. But not by much.

  11. 11

    rhp6033 spews:

    Lost @ # 8: Railing against “earmarks” or “pork” is fine in the generic sense, but it fails when you get down to the specifics. Everyone knows that when it goes to someone else, it’s and earmark or pork, but when it comes back to you, it’s a vitally needed investment in infrastructure.

    Is this a local project? Well, it is in the sense that it’s only within Washington State. But no President has vetoed any projects on that basis since Andrew Jackson.

    Let’s look at the Howard Hansen dam project. The reason why it’s a federal investment is because it’s a federal dam, managed by the Corps of Engineers. We made the decision, I think it was way back in the 1970’s, to turn over management of most of such dams to the Corps of Engineers because local and private operators weren’t doing an adequate job maintaining them, and there were some spectacular (and deadly) dam collapses as a result. Since dams fit within the expertise of the Corps of Engineers better than any other local, state, or federal agency, it’s jursidiction was expanded. I remember as a Boy Scout watching the Corps of Engineers inspecting an earthen dam retaining a lake at our Boy Scout camp, their was some concern that they might require the lake to be drained until modifications could be made.

    As for it being part of a defense spending bill – I don’t find that too surprising, since it’s going to be spent by the Army Corps of Engineers. And don’t forget the Interstate Highway System was initially built from defense funds, as part of plans for defending America from a Soviet attack.

    Finally, as for liberals vs. conservatives as being the big spenders. You have your programs, and we have ours. We can debate the details if you want, but in general the massive outlays to private companies (out-sourcing) during the Bush administration under various defense programs spent an incredible amount of money. And Bush’s Medicare Part B plan, although debatably better than nothing with respect to health care reform, came as an unfunded expenditure – except it’s ridiculous “no negotiation with drug manufacturers” provision ensured huge profits for them and a huge addition to the taxpayer costs.

  12. 12

    rhp6033 spews:

    What we might need to do is go back to the zero-sum budgeting we had under the Clinton administration. If a Congressman wants to spend money on a specific project, he/she has to find another way to make up the difference, either on the revenue side (taxes/fees), or on the expense side (finding budget cuts elsewhere). Such a policy helped to achieve a balanced budget by the year 2000.

    Note that Patty Murray did just that when she got money released to the state which helped avoid teacher, police, and firemen facing pending layoffs due to the budget crunch (not just in this state, but in every state). The bill wasn’t only revenue-neutral, it actually brought in more money than it paid out.

    But the Bush tax cuts upset the balance, because there was no provision to pay for them, other than a residing faith in the Laffler Curve which had already proven to be false, all the way back in the Reagan administration. Two wars, and extravagant out-sourcing of federal spending on defense and homeland security, make up by far the largest portion of the federal budget deficit. Even the TARP funds have a small impact in comparison. Congressional earmarks, like foreign aid, are relatively tiny blips in the budget, attracting far more attention by those seeking to point accusing fingers than they merit.

    The current defense secretary is on the right track, eliminating a joint forces command center in Virginia and having a goal of reducing contractors by 10% this year. The whole defense contracting thing has gotten far out of whack, with many of the duties which could be performed by federal employees (military or civilian) being performed by outside contractors at many times more the cost, and with far less accountability. It’s far past time to reign this in.

  13. 13

    Steve spews:

    “We in Western Washington think the Howard Hansen dam is critical. Fine.”

    Good start. But we’ll revisit that remark in a moment.

    “What projects that are more critical in the larger scheme of things got passed over so that Murray could put out an election ad?”

    Evidently you can’t think of any yourself, so we’ll just leave it at that.

    “What communties were put at risk so that she could score a few political points?””

    Back to your “the Howard Hansen dam is critical” remark. Now the Hansen dam fix is only an attempt to score cheap political points? The valley communities weren’t at risk? You just did a 360 in the space one paragraph.

    Try to make some sense next time you comment.

  14. 14

    lostinaseaofblue spews:

    I just wonder…

    If the right and left both agree that government spending is out of all rational bounds why not try-

    Audit all federal government departments. Agencies which duplicate other departments or whose legislative authority has lapsed would be eliminated.

    All remaining departments would be required to submit budgets which stated specific performance goals. Failure to meet such goals or provide such analysis for 2 consequetive years would result in termination of funds for that function.

    All department heads would have to provide a
    cost comparison to performance of their tasks in the private sector. Where costs were significantly higer in government costing Constitutional reasons for the federal government performing the task would have to be provided.

    This would be expensive, and would have to be phased in over a number of years. We already have the GAO for administering it, though. We have a soliciter generals office for providing Constitutional authority to department heads on request. We have the administrative staff withing the various departments.

    The option is the slow bleed we are in now. The option is the government by beauracrats, of beauracrats and for beauracrats we have now.

    And the gain would likely be the ability to fund the pet projects of all the various legislators with the resulting cost savings. Maybe more to the point it would be a reset of the financial clock reminding all personnel with authority over government money that they had better use it wisely, or they will lose it and perhaps their jobs.

  15. 15

    lostinaseaofblue spews:

    RHP

    You’re right. Increases in spending should be required to be offset by increases in revenue, and vice versa.

    No quarrels here.

  16. 16

    Ekim spews:

    1. Poster Child spews:

    Do you really think any residents or business owners in Kent, Renton, Auburn, and Tukwilla have any idea how close to disaster they were or make any link between Murray and the benefits of Federal spending in our area and their continuing safety?

    Goldy, I’ve been to Kent, Renton, Auburn, and Tukwilla, and I assure you they’re outside the Seattle bubble.

    I live in Kent and work in Tukwila. I can assure you that the business owners in the Kent valley are very much aware of the HH dam and the potential damage that awaits them. I’ve been to a couple of the safety meetings that were held last year and can tell you they were well attended by business owners who were worried and attentive to the speakers from state, local and fed gov on how we got into this situation and what was being done to correct it.

  17. 17

    Ekim spews:

    FYI, if the Kent valley floods, then the Renton Sewage treatment facility will shut down. If that is shut down, then sewage treatment for the East side shuts down from as far North as Bothell to as far South as Auburn. If you live and/or work there then you won’t have working toilets for somewhere around 2 to 4 months. Enjoy.

  18. 18

    rhp6033 spews:

    # 18: Not to mention that you would probably have raw sewage flowing through the streets and into homes and businesses throughout the area.

  19. 19

    rhp6033 spews:

    Lost @ 15: Of course, to do so we have to be in somewhat of a normal economic environment. When your house is burning down, you don’t argue over who’s going to pay the water bill.

    I’m a big proponant of cutting back on federal spending in the good times, using the excess revenue to pay down debt. That way you have the ability to borrow in the down cycles, when tax revenue is down and the demand for government services soar. It also saves money in the long run – the cost of construction projects is considerably cheaper in a down economy than in a good one. In other words, the government cycle of saving and spending should be exactly opposite that of the private sector.

  20. 20

    rhp6033 spews:

    Lost @ 14: I’m always suspicious of “performance-based auditing”. The word “audit” means one thing when a public accountant audits the books of a firm or agency. But using it in connection with “performance-based auditing” is a trick to make what is in reality a wide range of value-laden decisions appear to be impartial and scientific, merely by adding the word “audit”.

    Of course, we already have the OMB, the GSA, the GAO, and the CBO are all working toward similar goals from different directions, and representing different branches of government.

    Could the private sector perform a governmental task any cheaper? Sometimes, but not always, and there is a level of control which is given up in the process. We already out-source a lot of our government functions – in my mind, too many. There are many, if not most, government jobs which shouldn’t be performed by those who can be hired at the lowest pay levels.

  21. 21

    Michael spews:

    Not to mention that you would probably have raw sewage flowing through the streets and into homes and businesses throughout the area.

    Fertilizer! For all the farms that would be coming back!*

    *This comment brought to you by the small section of my brain that cheers when Mom Nature rips to shreds the works of man (see #7).

  22. 22

    Michael spews:

    @12

    What we might need to do is go back to the zero-sum budgeting we had under the Clinton administration.

    I do believe the Canadians do this in every federal budget and we should too.

  23. 23

    drool spews:

    #8 lostinaseaofblue,

    Rossi is a poor student of history and should not be in government if he bemoans the existance of earmarks and the budgetary process. That kind of process has been around since the beginning of our country. When the US was building 5 frigates for it’s infant navy (I think Jefferson was President), the ships were built in 5 different states as Congress dictated that would be where the money was spent. One would call that earmarking.

  24. 24

    Daddy Love spews:

    Dino Rossi quite clearly has no idea what an earmark is. Or he does know, but is lying through his teeth about them. Which tells me he is too stupid, poorly informed, or dishonest to represent this state.

    Patty Murray. Six more years.

    Paid for by Dino Rossi Thinks Women Should Be Forced To Bear Their Rapists’ Children.

  25. 25

    rhp6033 spews:

    # 23: I remember a story which makes the rounds from time-to-time back in Tennessee.

    The nation is gripped in the early days of WWII, in a crucial struggle with strong and ignoble adversaries. F.D.R. calls into his office a handful of members of Congress – the including the majority and minority leaders of each house, as well as the heads of the related appropriations committees.

    He explains to them that there is a program so secret, so vital to the U.S., that even a hint can’t be given to regular members of Congress, who might be tempted to make unwise remarks to a member of the press after imbibing in a bit too much alchohol. Instead, only the men in this room would be briefed, on a need-to-know basis. It was up to them to find a way to get the money to finance this project, without revealing the details in any way.

    He turned the meeting over to the scientists and military men who explained the Manhattan Project, and the tremendous expenses and facilities which would be needed to be built to process both uranium and plutonium. Those facilities would need to be away from major population centers, the more remote the better for security sake, and near abundant power sources, preferably hydro-electric.

    The presentation ended, and the meeting grew quiet. After a moment, Sen. Estas Kefauver of Tennessee broke the silence.

    “I want to assure you, Mr. President, that we, everyone here in this room, will do whatever it takes to get the job done. I just have one question, however. Where in Tennessee will these plants be built?”

    Thus, the uranium enrichment plant which was built from rural farmland in what is now the city of Oak Ridge, Tennessee.

  26. 26

    Chuck spews:

    Bringing in the pork, bringing in the pork, we will come rejoicing bringing in the pork (repeat)

    How the hell was this defense and why was it riding on a defense bill?

  27. 27

    rhp6033 spews:

    To Chuck @ 26:

    Apparantly you haven’t been reading.

    The Howard Hansen dam is maintained by the Army Corps of Engineers. They are a part of the Defense Department. That makes this part of their budget, so this is therefore a defense appropriation.

    Don’t make me repeat it again.

  28. 28

    rhp6033 spews:

    Of course, we could have let the appropriations go to Mobile, Alabama, where they are asking for federal money to expand their auxilary operations around the airport which would construct Airbus (oops, EADS-North America) A350 tankers, instead of Boeing.

    Nothing like building infrastructure which will make it easier to replace American jobs with French ones. Of course, a handful of jobs would be created in Mobile, which is why the Alabama Congressional delegation continues to fight for the Airbus entry in the tanker contest.

  29. 29

    Michael spews:

    @28

    Of course, we could have let the appropriations go to Mobile, Alabama

    Or to Iowa to fix that dam that just broke. That dam wasn’t protecting anything and hadn’t been used to generate hydro power in years, it was just used to maintain a lake for recreational purposes.

  30. 30

    lostinaseaofblue spews:

    Re 19 and 20
    “Of course, to do so we have to be in somewhat of a normal economic environment. When your house is burning down, you don’t argue over who’s going to pay the water bill.”

    I agree it would make more financial sense. But the popular will driving a re-examination of government spending is rarely there in good times. And it would be money better spent to give a qualified person a good job auditing the government that to extend unemployment.

    I’m far from saying all or even most government activity should be privatized. I am saying that the discussion of what is or is not within the purview of the federal government would be started by this kind of process. And an awareness of the cost differential between private and public activities could well drive cost savings.

    We’re going to spend trillions of dollars under the plans intitiated by Bush and carried through by Obama. To me it just makes sense to make sure that government money is well spent.

    Re 20

    If you’re discussing a business environment using performance auditing I often agree. But such value decisions are what we elect and pay legislators and the president to make. We’re talking about how the money you and I pay into the treasury is spent, and the elective process that drives that, so value judgements are inevitable and even desirable. At present it seems the career government employees make these decisions and keep those elected to run the government only as informed as they see fit. Seems a bit backward to me.

  31. 31

    lostinaseaofblue spews:

    RHP,

    “Of course, we already have the OMB, the GSA, the GAO, and the CBO are all working toward similar goals from different directions, and representing different branches of government.”

    Exactly. We have multiple agencies performing effectively the same task instead of one agency which can be tasked with auditing the activities of any branch of government.

  32. 32

    lostinaseaofblue spews:

    Re 23

    One could also call this the only way to get the ships built in a fledgling nation still working out the limits of its power.

    So we should accept an inability to learn and do better for 2 and a quarter centuries?

  33. 33

    J. Whorfin spews:

    The federal budget has three huge areas: defense, Medicare/Social Security, and interest on the debt. You could eliminate EVERYTHING ELSE and you’d still be running a deficit, so all this talk about earmarks is silly. Until you address those three areas, everything else is window dressing.

  34. 34

    rhp6033 spews:

    Lost @ #30: “But the popular will driving a re-examination of government spending is rarely there in good times….”

    Agreed. Why is that?

    Perhaps because we never admit when it’s a “good time”.

    I would also point out that the same thing is true of tax reform – in good times there isn’t the pressure to reform tax structure so it is more efficient and spreads the burden in the most rational and fair manner. But when times get bad, and tax revenues fall, and the demand for services skyrocket, the anti-tax crowd cries that “now is not the time” for tax reform.

    I’ve always said that the Seattle Times editorial policy on taxes can be condensed to three statements:

    1. In good times – “why upset the applecart by initiating tax reform now?”

    2. In medium times – “Things aren’t really that good, it’s actually a poor time to tax anyone”.

    3. In bad times – “Things are too bad to tax anyone.

  35. 35

    rhp6033 spews:

    It looks like Rossi can’t catch a break.

    First, Murray brings home federal dollars to fix the Howard Hansen dam, potentially saving thousands of homes and jobs from ruinous flooding. Rossi weakly counters by attacking the money as “earmarks”.

    Then, barely a week later, Murray brings home ten times that amount in federal money which saves the jobs of thousands of Washington state teachers and first responders, who would otherwise be laid off due to the rescession and it’s effect on local tax revenues. Rossi again weekly responds, saying we should opposed to such spending on principle, since it raises the federal surplus and debt levels. Unfortunately for him, it doesn’t – provisions in the bill guarantee that it’s paid for in closing tax loopholes and spending cuts.

    Then this week, just as Rossi is trying to gain momentum on his anti-earmark campaign, former Sen. Ted Stevens (Republican) dies. He’s remembered in countless obituraries as the “Emperor of Earmarks”, bringing home far more federal dollars to the state than it contributed in taxes. Everyone warmly remembers how he engendered much voter goodwill by putting the interests of his state first.

    Ted Stevens: ‘Emperor of Earmarks’

    So now, if he attacks earmarks in general, he’s attacking the memory of a recently deceased long-serving Republican Senator. And he’s got to do so realizing that nobody really minds earmarks, as long as it’s OUR earmarks, not THEIR earmarks.

    You’ve got to wonder what’s going on at Rossi’s camp now – I imagine they’ve got a team sitting at a table, head in their hands, mumbling, “Okay, NOW what do we do????”

    Rossi’s probably expecting the worst at this point. He might open the door and find George W. Bush standin there, saying “I’m here to help – I’ve already announced my endorsement of you”.

  36. 36

    Ekim spews:

    Rossi yard sign alert

    Finally, I’ve seen a Dino yard sign. Well actually, it was a recycled “Dino for Gov” sign with the “for Gov” part covered with duct tape.

    What is with Dino, anyway? I see Clint for Senator signs up all around the state. Well, ok, mostly E-Wash. But no Dino for Senator signs.

    Is Dino too cheap to do yard signs?

  37. 37

    Ekim spews:

    Maybe Dino is going for a payday. You know, collect all those political contributions, run his campaign on the cheap, loose the race, then cash out.

  38. 38

    rhp6033 spews:

    I’ve seen lots of Didier signs in Snohomish county, especially all along I-5, starting at Marysville and heading north. I think Didier used his entire campaign budget to make huge road signs. I’ve also seen a few on yards in Everett, but two of those were on empty houses with “for sale” signs out front. I suspect that these are bank-owned foreclosures, and somebody thought there wasn’t any need to ask the owner’s permission to put up the yard signs there.

    But you are right, I’ve seen lots of Didier and Akers signs, but I can’t remember seeing a Rossi sign. Maybe it’s because he got into the race so late, he’s skipping the yard sign campaign – after all, he’s already got name recognition in the state. I suspect he’s saving his budget for a last-minute trash ad campaign against Murray.

    If he does so, he had better remember this time to do it well before the actual election date. I think last time his negative campaigning didn’t hit his stride until well after most of the ballots had been placed in the mail. This is a new environment for the old politicians, they have to remember now that “election day” is actually a couple of weeks long.