Monday, May 12, 2008


Who wants to be a hypocrite? John Tanner, that's who ...

U.S. Rep. John Tanner fancies himself a fiscal conservative without peer. For the past five years or so, Tanner's told anyone who'd listen that the United States' growing national debt is leading us all on a path to ruin.

I find it just a tad hypocritical that Tanner, who's always pissing and moaning about government red ink, has no problem delivering taxpayer-funded goodies to his district. According to the Environmental Working Group's Web site, Tanner's 8th Congressional District is set to receive $111 million in farm subsidies over the next five years. So much for fiscal conservatism ...

If you wanna know what I really think about Rep. John Tanner, check out this Nigh Seen Creeder post from September 2006:

An old saying suggests that a person should be willing to put his or her money where his or her mouth is. When it comes to elected officials, this catchphrase rings especially true. ...

A few months back, Tanner recruited U.S. Rep. - and wannabe U.S. Senator - Harold Ford, Jr., aka Junior, to take part in his debt crusade, and he has submitted op-eds to newspapers across the state in which he predicts doomsday if the national debt continues to grow. Conspicuously absent from Representative Tanner's little rants are any concrete solutions to reduce the national debt. He simply takes issue with the "fiscal irresponsibility" of the Bush Administration, and he proposes grandiose schemes to eliminate "waste, fraud, abuse."

Complaining about the size of the national debt has apparently become John Tanner's political raison d'ĂȘtre. Folks who visit his congressional Web site will not only find eight or ten links dealing with the debt issue (including an impressive tutorial on T-bills and the like), but a chart indicating each citizen's "share" of the national debt is prominently displayed as well. Tanner's thoughts on how to reduce the national debt, however, are rather skimpy. This is typical Tanner-speak:
Congress and the President must make a commitment to bringing the federal budget back into balance. This last happened in the mid 1990s, when the federal government balanced its budget and even began paying down its debt.

The temporary elimination of the deficit - and the "paying down" of debt - during the 1990s occurred because the Pentagon's military capability was slashed by 40 percent. Without this deep cut in military spending, John Tanner would not be able to crow about the Clinton Administration's supposed "fiscal responsibility." Furthermore, when the war on terror began in earnest in 2001, the military found itself severely lacking in both materiel and manpower. (Deficit hawks in the Democratic Party, John Tanner included, seem unwilling to discuss this particular aspect of the supposed Clinton Boom.)

That being said, Representative John Tanner was once presented with an unprecedented opportunity to tame the federal budget ... and he quickly punted. In 1994, U.S. Representatives Rob Andrews (D-NJ) and Bob Zeliff (R-NH) proposed a special session of congress during which every federal expenditure would be scrutinized on the floor of the U.S. House of Representatives. The ten-day special session would have been restricted to spending cuts and no federal program would have been off limits. John Tanner publicly supported the "A to Z" bill, but he would not sign a discharge petition to send the legislation to the House floor for a vote. Tanner caved when Democratic Speaker Tom Foley - who'd soon find himself out of a job - demanded from on high that the A to Z plan should be sh**-canned.

"Everyone complains about the weather, but no one does anything about it," Mark Twain once quipped. John Tanner likes to complain about the national debt, yet he's not prepared to offer one substantive idea to reduce said debt. Like a good Democrat, Tanner steadfastly refuses to lay a single federal program - in whole or in part - on the chopping block lest he offend the unions who bankroll his and his comrade's campaigns.

Put your money where your mouth is, Representative Tanner. We're waiting ...

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