March 2008


 By: Brian Sikma

Count on conservative Republicans to raise the bar higher than the Democrats.  Although elected in ‘06 on a platform that proclaimed reform, Democrats have done little in the way of substantively reforming the process of pork barrel spending.  It took House Republicans to call for a one year hold on earmarks and it took House Democrats to turn them down on the offer.

Although the problem of pork barrel spending is a blight in both parties, Republican candidates at every level are taking the initiative to call for a suspension of earmarks until real reform can be put in place.  In Indiana three congressional candidates have taken up the call for reform by calling for a zero-earmark policy until changes can be made.  Former Republican Study Committee chairman Mike Pence has announced that he will not be making any appropriations request for fiscal year 2009 because “…it is clear to most Americans that the way Congress spends the people’s money is broken, especially when it comes to earmarks.”

The two other candidates calling for a moratorium on earmarks are Luke Puckett, running against Joe Donnelly (D) in CD 2, and Mike Sodrel, facing off against Baron Hill (D) in CD 9.  Puckett is advocating for a two year suspension of the earmark process and Sodrel released a statement on Friday calling for a 1 year suspension stating “Earmarks can be beneficial when much needed dollars are sent to local communities, but the system needs to be fair, responsible, and transparent.”

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Last year Rep. Mike Pence (R) began the fight to eliminate Title X funding for Planned Parenthood. Currently your tax dollars underwrite nearly one third of Planned Parenthood’s annual budget. Although they are the largest abortion provider in the world, Planned Parenthood is eligible to receive Title X funds as long as the money is not directly spent on abortions. This limitation, however, does not mean that sending roughly $300 million a year to the organization does not have negative consequences for women and their unborn children. The taxpayer funding that Planned Parenthood receives allows them to focus funds raised from other sources on the specific funding of abortions.

Pence began fighting to eliminate taxpayer subsidies to Planned Parenthood last year, but his efforts were unsuccessful with the amendment being voted down on the floor of the U.S. House. In spite of the defeat Pence was able to get his legislative concept out there and now he’s back working on eliminating the funding from the 2009 budget.

Legislative battles like the one Rep. Pence is waging are just as important as the overall goal of ending Roe v. Wade and precedents set by ensuing court decisions that made abortion on demand possible. The battle to protect life doesn’t just take place on the macro level. Seemingly micro changes in policy are important because each child and each mother spared the physical death and emotional trauma of an abortion, count towards the overall goal of protecting life and respecting freedom.

By: Brian Sikma

“Congressman Donnelly Opposes Democratic Budget” states the headline of the most recent press release from Rep. Joe Donnelly (D). To be strictly and technically accurate, that statement is true. In a roll call vote on March 13, Donnelly (and the two other Indiana Blue Dogs: Rep. Baron Hill and Rep. Brad Ellsworth) voted against HCR 312, the Democrat supported budget resolution for fiscal year 2009.

HCR 312, the Democratic budget resolution, is the largest tax increase ever. If enacted, taxes will rise by about $682 billion. The Heritage Foundation did a study of how those taxes would impact individual congressional districts both from a tax standpoint and from an economic standpoint. Tax increases have two affects, first, they directly take money from the taxpayer, second, they have economic costs like job losses and increased production costs which are passed along to the consumer in the form of higher prices.

In Indiana’s 2nd Congressional District, Rep. Donnelly’s district, the impact of the tax increase would be an additional $1,618 in taxes per taxpayer. Counting the economic costs would mean that individual taxpayers are out a total of $3,148 per capita as a result of the tax increase. It is also estimated that 2,111 jobs would be lost in the 2nd District as a result of the Democrats budget. Click here to see the data for your own congressional district.

To look at the entire situation surrounding that dismal budget resolution, however, presents a slightly different picture. Rep. Donnelly and his fellow Blue Dogs have proclaimed themselves to be fiscal conservatives. At times they have cast conservative votes. There is a difference though between casting occasional conservative votes or even just conservative votes on key votes, while neglecting the overall series of actions that a true fiscal conservative would take.

On March 12 the House considered and voted on a resolution to consider HCR 312, the budget resolution. That March 12 resolution was not the budget resolution, but if it had been defeated it would have at least slowed down the passage of the actual budget resolution. On that roll call vote, Joe Donnelly, Baron Hill, and Brad Ellsworth joined their Democratic majority and voted to allow the House to consider the fiscal year 2009 budget resolution.

Here is why that vote was not a good vote: everyone who voted on that measure realized that even if they voted against the actual budget resolution, the tax raising unemployment generating budget resolution would pass because a Democratic majority controls the House. Therefore, if one was going to be wholly principled on the matter, he or she would have to vote against the initial resolution and the actual budget resolution.

Donnelly and his fellow “conservative” Democrats were only half-principled on this matter of the budget and it is disingenuous of them to portray themselves as advocates of the hard-working middle class American.