On this morning's CNN Newsroom anchor Tony Harris interviewed Congressman (and presidential candidate) Duncan Hunter (R-CA) on the Iraq emergency spending bill which would, among other things, withdraw American combat troops from the country before the fall of 2008.
Mr. Hunter detailed his opposition to the legislation, pointing out that it ignores military needs while at the same time the bill's backers "did find money for shrimp and spinach." Here he was referring to the almost $4 billion targeted for farm interests that are included in the legislation.
HARRIS: Yes. You are referring to some of the sweeteners in the deal, millions, for example, to make spinach farmers whole again after last year's E. coli episode.
HARRIS: I recall at least some of those farmers are located in your home state of California. There's money in here for Katrina recovery.
Are you unwilling to attach strings to the president's war strategy even if it helps people in your home state, people in Louisiana, real people in trouble, maybe get some help getting out of trouble?
HUNTER: Absolutely. The spinach farmers -- and I think I have got some in my district -- and the shrimp fishermen, I would simply say this: All those people have young men and women in uniform in the two war fighting theaters in Iraq and Afghanistan. This bill is bad for people in uniform, and I would tell that to any farmer. I'd much rather take that spinach money and put it in these vehicles that can deflect roadside bombs.
The congressman was too gracious to point out to Mr. Harris that the Democratic bill is not, as he asserted, "the president's war strategy."
As for the "real people in trouble," this is an argument made constantly by liberals while peddling their Big Government schemes. Farm spending is totally unrelated to the Iraq War, but liberals are using the bill as a convenient way of subsidizing special interests while attracting votes for their withdrawal plan. So there's $74 million for peanut growers, $25 million for spinach growers, $252 million for milk subsidies and $3.3 billion for crop and livestock losses. All that pork didn't go to waste; the bill passed.
According to USA Today, "Agribusiness spent $84 million lobbying Congress and contributed $44.1 million to federal campaigns in 2005 and 2006. . . "
Maybe Tony Harris should consider if the "real people in trouble" include politicians whose hands are always open for money from special interests they can prop up with funding from real taxpayers.