Friday, October 24, 2008

Lewiston Tribune: Sali fights big spending, some of the time

By John Foster - Friday, October 24, 2008 at 09:15 AM

Another Lewiston Tribune editorial from the legendary Jim Fisher:

October 22, 2008

Rep. Bill Sali portrayed himself in a debate against challenger Walt Minnick Sunday evening as a tireless fighter against federal spending. But he’s no Ron Paul or Tom Coburn, two members of Congress whose “no” votes on big spending are more consistent. The U.S. House member from Idaho’s 1st District just has his own spending priorities.

Those priorities do not include safe bridges. Minnick criticized his vote against fixing them during the debate. The vote, which put Sali in another of the tiny minorities he often joins, passed the House 367-55. Included in the majority was Sali’s Republican seatmate in the House, 2nd District Rep. Mike Simpson.

As Minnick pointed out, federal highway authorities say more than two dozen bridges beneath Idaho highways are structurally deficient. And the bill Sali opposed will help target and fix the worst of them.

Neither do Sali’s priorities include sick children, especially the children of working poor people. They are the beneficiaries of the State Children’s Health Insurance Program, which provides health care to children of parents who work but neither receive insurance from their employers nor have the money to buy it.

When Sali voted against compromise legislation renewing SCHIP late last year, his vote not only differed from Simpson’s, but also from that of fellow conservative Cathy McMorris-Rodgers of Washington’s 5th District. At the time, McMorris-Rodgers called the compromise “a needed safety net to provide health insurance to those children who need it most.”

Sali charged that the bill “takes money from hard-working Americans while opening the door to provide health insurance to undocumented foreign nationals, including gang members, drug cartel operatives and terrorists.”

Yes, terrorists - aged from birth to 17 years.

Don’t conclude from these that Sali is a consistent critic of big spending, or even wasteful spending, though. Exhibit A in the case against that is his vote earlier this year for a $300 billion farm bill that continues huge subsidies to farmers enjoying the best crop prices in years, and provides those subsidies to couples making up to $1.5 million a year.

In his zeal to take money from hard-working Americans to turn over to wealthy farmers, Sali also supported the other two-thirds of the farm bill. Some of that was the usual pork going to pet projects in members’ districts, but much of it was money for food stamps and nutrition programs.

Is Sali prepared to say those stamps and those programs will not end up feeding undocumented foreign nationals, including gang members, drug cartel operatives and terrorists?

Of course not. But he’s willing to take that risk on legislation providing handouts to people who don’t need it. It’s legislation helping people who do need it that he won’t support. - J.F.

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