There are plenty of examples of politicians telling one constituent what he wants to hear, then telling another with opposing views the opposite. But it takes a schizophrenic brand of chutzpah to, in one breath, tell a single individual among those you represent that you’re both a massive budget cutter and a big spender with full faith in Keynesian stimulus.
That is what Democratic Rep. Nita Lowey told one of her suburban New York constituents during a Tuesday evening telephone “town hall.”
|U.S. Rep. Nita Lowey
“Barbara, I just want you to know that I have voted for millions and millions trillions of dollars worth of cuts,” Lowey told a New Yorker concerned about Congress’ big spending ways. “But that doesn’t mean that I don’t believe passionately, as Dr. [Alan] Blinder, an economist from Princeton, or Mark Zandi or Paul Krugman, that the way you really get our economy going and reduce the debt and the deficit is by investing and putting people to work.”
In this context, the “investment” Lowey was referring to was federal spending, not private investors investing their own money. President Obama in his re-election campaign has made huge use of the term, following in the footsteps of his White House predecessor, Bill Clinton.
As Sen. James Inhofe, R-Okla., has described the ploy, “That word ‘investments’ sure does sound good, but it’s really just a fancy way of saying ‘increase government spending’ . . . We’ve seen this type of ‘investment’ before from President Obama and the Democrats in Congress. It was called their stimulus plan — which, by the way, only strapped us with even more deficit spending.”
Lowey, a senior member of the House Appropriations Committee, which guides spending, not surprisingly voted for the 2009 Obama stimulus spending $831 billion. But in her “town hall,” she also proudly rattled off a series of other big spending measures she supports.
“Congress should pass the American Jobs Act,” she said. “It would provide $35 billion to prevent layoffs of up to 300,000 teachers, police officers, firefighters, including 18,000 jobs in New York, $2 billion to renovate and improve schools across New York . . . $3 billion for New York’s roads, bridges and rail projects from a National Infrastructure Bank.”
The 10-term congresswoman argued that “we can’t afford to cut programs that will help our economy grow and create jobs.
We need to make greater investments in S.T.E.M. education [science, technology, engineering and math], research, development initiatives that will make us more competitive.”
Complaining that we “have to end tax breaks for big oil,” Lowey also called for more government spending on green energy. “Wouldn’t it be nice if we could just take a plug and plug our car in the garage, and give all those gas stations a run for their money?”
But within a few minutes she was offering a litany of spending cuts she favored. “I voted to cut $37 billion from last year’s budget. And I also voted for the Budget Control Act, which reduces spending by $2 trillion over the next ten years . . . I also voted, Barbara, to cut the budget of the House of Representatives by $110 million in the last two years.”
She added, “I also voted for ending a $450 million boondoggle for an unnecessary alternate engine for the Joint Strike Fighter,” (the F-35). House Armed Services Committee Chairman Howard McKeon, R-Calif., believes the GE/Rolls Royce alternate engine, far from being a boondoggle, would “potentially harvest billions in savings, while fielding a more capable, more robust fighter jet.”
“I voted to block $369 million for new F-22 aircraft the Pentagon didn’t want, but some in Congress tried to build,” Lowey continued, soon boasting of eliminating $162 million for the “Bridge to Nowhere” in Alaska’s sparsely-populated Gravina Island.
Lowey also touted “trimming federal assistance for Washington, D.C.’s school voucher program by $150 million” — the popular Opportunity Scholarship Program that substantially increased high school graduation rates from 70 percent to 91 percent.
The phone “town hall” was part of what makes Lowey, according to the New York Daily News, “still the New York Congressional delegation’s Communication Queen.” Lowey “sent 1,945,986 messages to constituents” just during the first nine months of 2011, according to the News. “She accounted for 43 percent of the more than 4.5 million emails and mass mails new York City-area congressmembers sent so far this year . . . She reported spending $40,890.”
The News noted that members of Congress “have no limit on the amount of bulk mail they can send out, either via snail mail or the Internet” and that “Taxpayers pick up the tab for postage, printing and design.”
It was St. Paul the Apostle who declared that he had became “all things to all men that I might save all.” Liberal Democrats like President Obama, Congresswoman Lowey and others in Congress are dubiously presenting themselves as all things to all voters — spenders and spending cutters — in hopes of saving their party at the ballot box this November.
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