Blogs on the right, left, and everywhere in between are going crazy about McConnell's so called $2.9 billion "earmark." There are thousands of comments blasting McConnell as a typical, corrupt politician. This sounds like perfect ammunition for the Senator's opponents. With that said, why have Alison Grimes and Met Bevin been silent on this?
At first glance, it may seem suspicious that such a large sum of money is going to Kentucky, considering that it happens to be the home state of the man largely responsible for the deal that ended the government shutdown. To many, it sounds like McConnell is rewarding himself for his role in the compromise. However, upon further research, one will notice that McConnell is in fact not behind this appropriation. Senators Lamar Alexander and Diane Feinstein, members of the Energy and Water Development Subcommittee, are the ones who requested this. It's fair to say that a debt ceiling bill is a strange place to put this request, but it's not exactly an "earmark." The bill is only 35 pages long, so it's not like this was hidden on page 4,000 of the healthcare bill. This does not seem deceitful to me due to the relatively short length of the bill. The media were able to uncover this within hours of the bill's passage, so surely a senator could do the same. Nonetheless, I bet that many senators did know about this and even supported it, because this truly is an essential project.
Located just 13 miles from where the Mississippi and Ohio Rivers meet, the Olmsted Dam is critical to our nation's inland water infrastructure. This is one of the most heavily trafficked segments of any inland waterway, and the region's unpredictable flooding severely limits shipping companies' ability to move goods during certain times of the year. This dam is clearly very important to our nation, not just Kentucky and Illinois. Any state that sends or receives goods via either of these rivers will be affected by this project. In an effort to save money, engineers tried to construct this dam without the use of temporary dams known as "coffer dams." In theory, this was a great idea. Not only are coffer dams bad for the river bed, they are also expensive. Unfortunately, things didn't go as engineers anticipated, and now the project is severely behind budget. As with the expression "in hindsight, we all have 20/20," engineers should have constructed the dam using traditional methods. However, we can't give up on the project now, considering how much we have already invested, and how important it is to transportation and commerce throughout the country. That is why the $2.9 billion is so important.
Recently, Matt Bevin released a video outlining his opposition to the McConnell's deal. He criticizes the Senator for compromising on Obamacare, but fails to mention this supposed "pork." As for Grimes, her Twitter page makes no mention of the deal at all, probably because it is a perfect example of McConnell reaching across the aisle, undermining her entire campaign's theme. The bottom line is that this project is extremely important, and both Bevin and Grimes understand that this $2.9 billion is a good thing for Kentucky and the nation as a whole.