Thursday, February 5, 2009

Post-Partisan Depression: Are We Stimulated Yet?

Sources with access to report that two senators, described in the venerable paper as “centrists,” have begun an effort to trim the spending of the Obama administration’s stimulus package.

Senators Ben Nelson, Democrat of Nebraska, and Susan Collins, Republican of Maine, are attempting to curb the cost of the stimulus package by removing superfluous provisions. Namely, their proposal would eliminate, “$50 million for the National Endowment for the Arts, $14 million for cyber security research by the Homeland Security Department, $1 billion for the National Science Foundation, $400 million for research and prevention of sexually transmitted diseases, $850 million for Amtrak and $400 million for climate change research.” The wisdom in making the proposed cuts is no doubt self-evident.

Of course, in their efforts to keep Washington fiscally responsible, senators Nelson and Collins had to make tough decisions. For example, these Senators chose to eliminate $400 million from the stimulus package for the research of Sexually Transmitted Diseases (STDs). It took Senator Nelson and Senator Collins tremendous courage to cut spending in this area given that their state’s are so afflicted by these terrible diseases. Take as an example, Maine, represented by Senator Collins, ranks 12th lowest in the nation for HIV positive residents per 100,000, 2nd lowest in the nation for Chlamydia positive residents per 100,000, and 4th lowest in the nation for residents infected with Gonorrhea per 100,000. Despite her home state being afflicted by these terrible diseases, Senator Collins, for the good of the country and in the name of fiscal responsibility, agreed to reduce funds given to research medicines that could cure or alleviate the symptoms of these awful diseases. Her courage is truly inspiring.

The examples of Senator Nelson and Senator Collins willingness to make sacrifices for the sake of fiscal responsibility are endless. Take Senator Nelson’s courageous decision to eliminate the $50 allocated for the National Endowment of the Arts. Despite being home to none of the nations most highly acclaimed museums, orchestras, and or theater companies Senator Nelson was willing to take the bold step, no doubt setting him at odds with Nebraska’s infamous artist and thespian lobby, to eliminate the extra funding to the National Endowment for the Arts. It is a refreshing site to behold Senators acting counter to their home state’s petty interests, instead doing what is good for the whole nation.

Of course, it is no surprise that Senator Nelson and Senator Collins brought to the nations attention the gross overspending in the Obama administration’s stimulus package. Both their home states, Nebraska and Maine, are ranked by The Tax Foundation, a nonpartisan tax research group based in Washington, D.C., as beneficiary states. A beneficiary state is one that receives more in federal aid then they produce in tax revenue. In the case of Nebraska, the tax institute reports, “Per dollar of Federal tax collected in 2004, Nebraska citizens received approximately $1.10 in the way of federal spending.” As for Maine, Tax Institute analysts report, “Per dollar of federal tax collected in 2005, Maine citizens received approximately $1.41 in the way of federal spending.” Given the immense burden placed on the residents of Nebraska and Maine in terms of taxation, it is no surprise that senators Nelson and Collins had to way in on the Obama administration’s overspending. Given both state’s immense contribution to federal revenue, it was important that both senators take a stand against this injustice. Why should Nebraska and Maine have to suffer for provisions in the stimulus package that might benefit revenue producing states like California, New Jersey, and New York?

It is good to see that in the wake of the Obama election, Senator’s of both parties have been willing to come together, set aside aside their petty differences, and do what is best for all Americans not just their constituents.

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