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Posts from the "Michele Bachmann" Category

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Bachmann Says Walking and Biking Have Nothing to Do With Public Health

Back when the Senate kicked off its health care debate, Republicans tested out a new line of attack against health committee chairman Edward Kennedy's (D-MA) draft bill: Its investment in encouraging walking and biking amounts to inexcusable government waste.

Never mind that walking and biking have scientifically proven public health benefits. Never mind that the Federal Highway Administration is already promoting the activities the new health care bill would expand.

b4eb3_bachmann_crazy.jpgRep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN): Walking and biking don't belong in a health care bill. (Photo: More About Politics)
The Republicans pushed their anti-pork line against the legislation's "community transformation" grants for a time. But Sen. Mike Enzi (WY), the health committee's senior GOPer, ultimately failed in a bid to prevent the bill from spending money on sidewalks, bike paths, streetlights, and other health-related infrastructure items.

The House has recently begun its health care discussions, however. And none other than Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN) -- whose greatest hits include calling for an investigation into the president's patriotism -- is on the case against the bill's proposed public health grants.

Bachmann wrote on her blog:

Essentially, we’re talking about federal funding for bike paths, lighting, jungle gyms, and even farmers markets.

In the House bill, at least the spending is capped -- $1.6 billion per year.  The Senate bill leaves the sky the limit – leaving the amount of spending up to the Obama Administration.

While these projects may have merit, they certainly don't belong in a health care reform package.  With priorities like this running amok on Capitol Hill, is there any doubt that health care costs will only continue to skyrocket under government-run health care?

To return to an earlier theme, let's take Bachmann a bit too seriously for a moment. The chances that she will actually vote for Democratic health legislation are effectively zero. So we can safely assume that her goal here is to burnish her fiscal-conservative credentials by picking a project to deride as "pork."

How about the government's estimated $1 billion in unnecessary Medicare payments? Was Bachmann at all concerned when health industry lobbies said they'd rather not be bound by White House savings targets? Apparently not; it's people walking more that truly frightens the congresswoman.

(h/t Minnesota Independent)
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Congress Reluctant to Shine Light on Transportation Earmarks

The House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee is about to unveil a massive bill that will re-authorize federal transportation programs for the next six years. The bill will also include funding for a large number of "earmarks," the congressional pet projects that can include everything from bike trails to Bridges to Nowhere.

Earmarks grew largely in the shadows until a series of pet project-related ethics scandals rocked Washington earlier this decade, helping the Democrats take control of Congress amid promises to make the process more transparent. Still, the House transportation committee is taking a looser approach to earmark openness this year: instead of requiring members of Congress to pose their earmarks early, the panel is merely encouraging members of Congress to do so.

earl_b.jpgRep. Earl Blumenauer (D-OR) isn't ashamed of his earmarks. (Photo: Washington Post)

So how can activists on the local level find out whether their local representative is backing big highways or light rail? The Sunlight Foundation, a government watchdog group based in Washington, has pored over the websites of all House members to see who followed the transportation panel's optional deadline.

Sadly, only 83 lawmakers are letting the public see their transportation earmark requests, compared with 321 who heeded the binding transparency rule followed by the House Appropriations Committee. (The House has 435 members in total, but some swear off earmarks entirely.)

Sunlight's list of transportation earmarkers can be found here. Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-OR), co-leader of the Congressional Bicycle Caucus, has an impressive list of transit projects on his list. House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-MD) is seeking more money for the Washington Metro's planned Purple Line and to expand transit options for Southern Maryland.

On the flip side, two Republican members of Congress are catching some flak for their earmark requests. More on them after the jump...

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