Monday, June 16, 2008

Congress Spoils More Taxpayer Money On Sports Investigations

Democratic Congressman John Yarmuth gave us the best soundbite for Congressional waste earlier this year when he participated in a House hearing "investigating" steroids in Major League Baseball. Yarmuth's silly questioning of Major League Baseball Players Association president Don Fehr regarding whether steroids increase player performance "any more than chewing tobacco does, any more than chewing on sunflower seeds does" would make great fodder for an Anne Northup political ad, with "Take Me Out to the Ball Game!" playing in the background.

But now sports silliness seems also to have infected the other side of the aisle as well, and Republican Congressman Ed Whitfield apparently approves. The House Energy and Commerce Committee's commerce, trade and consumer protection subcommittee has called a hearing for this Thursday to discuss "Breeding, Drugs, and Breakdowns: The State of Thoroughbred Horseracing and the Welfare of the Thoroughbred Racehorse." According to the Courier-Journal's Jim Carroll, "[t]he subcommittee's chairman, Rep. Bobby Rush, D-Ill., and ranking Republican, Rep. Ed Whitfield of Kentucky's 1st District, sent letters to the five horse-racing associations last month, noting the public outcry over the deaths of Eight Belles after this year's Derby and the breakdown and death of Barbaro two years ago."

Fortunately there are still some Republicans who retain a proper perspective of the appropriate role of Congress vis-a-vis the States in the regulation of sports. The C-J reports that earlier today Kentucky state Senator Damon Thayer called the upcoming hearing "'objectionable' and said medication regulation should be left to individual states rather than the federal government." According to the C-J:

Thayer called the hearing scheduled for Thursday a “dog-and-pony show,” and said Congress can’t pass measures to help the economy, but “yet here they come rushing to the rescue” of racing. He also said the hearing is “a bit of showboating.”

Rep. Whitfield, a Hopkinsville Republican, has suggested that the federal government may need to implement minimum medication policies for racing under the Interstate Horse Racing Act, the federal law that allows the simulcasting betting that is vital to the industry.

Thayer said the federal act should be left alone and that states are in the best position to regulate the industry. If a bill advances through Congress, Thayer said Kentucky’s U.S. senators, Mitch McConnell and Jim Bunning, “who have a very good understanding of our industry and how important it is to the economy of this country, can stop it.”

Thayer made his remarks while sitting next to Connie Whitfield, the wife of Congressman Whitfield, at a meeting of the Kentucky Equine Drug Research Council. Good for Senator Thayer.

Here's a suggestion for our Kentucky Congressmen: Stop wasting time and money "investigating" sports and start devoting more attention to legislation to allow for more domestic off-shore oil drilling. If we Americans have to spend all of our money on gasoline, we won't have anything left to pay to attend any of the sporting events your "investigations" are trying to "reform".

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