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Wednesday, Sep. 17, 2014

Beware of rhetoric of political season

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Citizens Against Government Waste is a good watchdog group that keeps a careful eye on foolish spending in Washington. And given the current state of the federal government, there's ample ammunition on both sides of the political aisle to highlight wasteful spending of our tax dollars.

Generally, I enjoy the group's list of those who embrace earmarks for pork barrel projects that cost much more money than they are worth.

But recently the group announced a list of the six worst "porkers" for the past year and Missouri's own Sen. Claire McCaskill was on that list.

By way of background, earmarks were temporarily banned last year thanks largely to the conservative fiscal wing of the Republican party. So the "pork" for 2011 was not the traditional brand of "bridges to nowhere" and the Robert Byrd airport that serves six people.

But the lack of pork didn't stop these watchdogs from naming six top offenders for spending money on useless projects.

But the inclusion of McCaskill was a mistake. I might agree with Senate leader Harry Reid - who also made the list this year - but McCaskill was included for all the wrong reasons.

I suspect her inclusion on the list has at least a little to do with the fact that she is facing a tough re-election battle this year. But that doesn't make it right.

McCaskill has a long record of opposing any and all earmarks. Look up her record. It doesn't lie.

The Missouri Senator was named to the list for suggesting that the Postal Service start a marketing campaign to encourage letter writing. Her thought is that this idea might increase postal volume and help the financially-strapped Postal Service out of some financial hot water.

Now the idea may be simplistic and it may even be dumb. But it hardly qualifies McCaskill as one of the leading "porkers" in Congress.

One of the reasons I have always liked McCaskill - other than her feisty spirit - is her consistent stand against earmarks. I take great issue with her early and consistent support of the Obama administration and that alone will color her re-election campaign.

But to fault McCaskill for a suggestion to the Postal Service, smells of politics more than philosophy.

The point of this is simple: Beware of rhetoric that flows during an election year. And that warning applies to both conservative and liberal points of view.

The voters will decide if Claire McCaskill deserves re-election. But hopefully voters will make their decision on real issues and not phony politics from a watchdog group that should know better.



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Michael Jensen
Michael Jensen