Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Beshear: Send Us More Earmarks!

Governor Steve Beshear took time out from shmoozing Washington to note that the Ohio River bridges cannot be built without federal money. For most of us, that's beyond dispute.

But for Beshear (and Democrats running for U.S. Senate), it's an epiphany: earmarks benefit the district lucky enough to receive them.

Not surprisingly, the Courier-Journal spins Beshear'`s comments into an indictment of the Bush administration rather than an acknowledgment that we need earmarks. Indeed, the C-J headline -- "Beshear criticizes Bush transportation spending"-- suggests just the opposite, that Beshear thinks Bush has spent too much.

In fact, Beshear reiterated that Kentucky requires federal money to build the Ohio River bridges:

"The states don't have the resources to build these mega-projects," Beshear said. "And it is going to require the federal government to be part of that solution. They may not be the whole solution, but they've got to be part of that solution. Otherwise, none of these projects can move forward, whether that's in Kentucky or in any other state in the Union."

Besehear might protest that he doesn't want earmarks -- he simply wants a "national transportation policy" in which the "federal government needs to be a real partner in that policy with state and local governments."

Granted, this is Beshear's first meeting in the Natinal Governor's Association. But even a newbie should understand that the faceless bureaucrats in th`e Department of Transportation do not drive Kentucky roads; they don't know whether we need a bridge and don't care if we get one. Members of the Kentucky delegation, in contrast, drive our roads and know our needs first-hand.

That's why it's so important that our delegation includes as much seniority as possible, and why Republican Senate Leader Mitch McConnell has been so effective at making sure that Kentucky's requests for infrastructure funding don't get buried in some minion's cubicle in Washington.

To be sure, there have been members of Congress who have abused earmarks, which is why McConnell has called for more trasparency. But as Beshear and every resident of the Commonwealth knows, Kentucky hasn't asked for a "Bridge to Nowhere." Just a bridge (or two) to Indiana.

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