Rick Berg Should Be Proud Of Voting Against Stimulus Funding, Even In North Dakota
Back in 2011, in the first months of his first term in the US House, Republican Rick Berg joined his colleagues in voting for a bill to cut stimulus spending that hadn’t yet been dispersed. Among the projects for which spending was cut were projects here in North Dakota, but Berg defended his vote.
“The congressman is absolutely very invested in making sure that our nation’s infrastructure is maintained, and, obviously, in North Dakota that’s a huge concern,” said his spokeswoman Alee Lockman. “But right now our nation is facing a deficit, and our No. 1 priority has to be reducing that and getting our economy back on track.”
One of the biggest political problems America faces is that we’re paralyzed by parochialism. On one hand, we all complain about the national debt and government overspending. But, on the other hand, we allow local spending projects to become political footballs so that campaigns turn into races to see which politician can bring home the most federal money to their state or district.
When Berg and the other Republicans voted to ax that spending, they were putting principle in front of parochialism. The nation’s budget is a mess, and if we’re going to fix it everyone has to sacrifice.
Unfortunately, Berg’s vote against that stimulus money (including the ND projects) is now being used against him in his Senate campaign. The far-left blog Think Progress is hitting Berg today for visiting the site of one of those stimulus projects in Minot yesterday (the Senate restored the money for the project, with ND Senators Kent Conrad and John Hoeven supporting it):
In just his second month after taking office, Berg and House Republicans voted to defund all stimulus money that had yet to be spent, including $14.13 million for Minot’s 55th Street bridge. The entire project was nearly scrapped after Berg’s vote put funding in jeopardy.
“I don’t know how they can award you money and then take the money away,” Dana Larsen, the local county highway engineer told the Minot Daily News at the time. “That’s really not a contingency we had planned for.”
The funding was eventually secured by the state’s two senators, Kent Conrad (D) and John Hoeven (R), allowing the project to move forward.
So the project is going forward, and Berg paid it a visit even though he voted against it. Are we supposed to hold that against Berg?
The Democrats think so, and that sort of thing has been good politics in the past. But with the nation over $16 trillion in debt, and adding over $1 trillion in new debt every single year, can we afford those sort of politics any more?
America needs to spend less, and we need principled leaders like Berg who are willing to make the tough choices even when they’re not politically convenient. Good leadership isn’t just about lining up at the federal trough and grabbing as much money for your state/district as you can.Tags: deficits, Heidi Heitkamp, John Hoeven, Kent Conrad, minot, national debt, North Dakota News, Rick Berg, Stimulus