Among politicians, everybody, it seems, wants their particular pet problem defined as somehow integral to the post-terrorism survival of the nation.
This is no mystery in Washington, where initiatives on everything from agriculture to taxation have been repackaged in red, white and blue wrappers. Its hard to vote against something called, say, the Homeland Food Supply Security Act, even if the bill behind it is nothing more than a giveaway to goat herders.
Now, Georgia Lt. Gov. Mark Taylor has gotten into the act, portraying massive state spending on road construction as an economic stimulus package.
In remarks delivered at an Atlanta news conference, Taylor spins the $2.4 billion the state plans to spend on asphalt as a jobs-creation plan that will generate regional income around the state.
Never mind that the income is just a transfer of money from taxpayers and motorists. When Gov. Roy Barnes won passage of the accelerated road-building program from legislators this spring, it was during a time of high-flying state prosperity. Lawmakers, like drunken sailors with a weekend pass, blew the states more than half-billion-dollar surplus, and then borrowed another half-billion - much of it ladled out to favored constituencies in the form of local assistance grants.
The road-spending program was designed to speed up completion of the Governors Road Improvement Program. Locally, that means faster paving of the Savannah River Parkway and Fall Line Freeway. Thats good.
But to come back, months later, and re-announce heavy highway spending plan as an economic stimulus package and tout its job-creation potential is nothing more than ham-handed opportunism. Taylor ought to be ashamed of himself.
By the way: Gov. Barnes recently announced funding cuts and job freezes in state agencies because of the economic downturn. Other state officials worry that education spending will suffer, too. How many of these cutbacks would have been necessary if the states surplus hadnt been squandered this spring?
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