Saturday, February 14, 2009

Rep. Lummis doth object too much

Wyoming's brand-spanking-new Rep., Repub Cynthia Lummis, is wasting little time learning how to tow the party line, especially when it comes to the economic stimulus legislation. She voted against it twice -- joining the rest of her naysaying right-wing brethren and sistren. For eight years -- four terms -- Lummis's predecessor, Barbara Cubin -- never met a spending bill she didn't like. The Repubs ran up a huge deficit and now they've rediscovered their fiscal conservative roots.

Anyway, here are the parts of the stimulus bill that Rep. Lummis found objectionable:

1. $50 million for the National Endowment for the Arts;
2. $2 billion for the Neighborhood Stabilization Fund, providing funds to organizations such as ACORN, which has been accused of practicing unlawful voter registration in recent elections;
3. $8 billion for a High Speed Passenger Rail Program, after the House did not include any funding for the program and the Senate included $2 billion, which will fund at least one project from Las Vegas to Los Angeles
4. $1 billion for a Prevention and Wellness Fund, which can be used for sexually transmitted disease education and prevention programs at the CDC
5. $500 million to replace a 30-year old computer system at the Social Security Administration
6. $500 million for a health professions training program -- funding which an earlier committee report said were allocated because, “a key component of attaining universal health care reform will be ensuring the supply of primary care providers.”

Let's take these one at a time.

1. The $50 million for the National Endowment for the Arts stipulates that the funding goes for grants to activities and projects “which preserve jobs in the nonprofit arts sector threatened by declines in philanthropic and other support during the current economic downturn," with 40 percent of the amount going to state arts agencies and regional arts organizations (“in a manner similar to the agency’s current practice”) and the remainder going out in competitive grants from the NEA. Matching requirements are waived.

So, if 40 percent of that total equals $20 million. and it's divided equally among 62 state/territorial arts agencies and regionals, that would mean $322,000 for the Wyoming Arts Council, where I work. That means a lot of grants to arts councils and schools and libraries. Also, the other 60 percent of NEA funding will go out in grants to organizations in all states, including Wyoming. That's a nice infusion of capital in tough times. Not to mention the fact that arts orgs in the state could apply directly to the NEA.

In her press release, Lummis didn't have to mount any specific objection to arts funding. Her Repub clan knows that "NEA" is a code word for "the agency that funds pornographic art." So, in Lummis-speak, $50 mill to that outfit is a big waste of taxpayer money -- and a slap in the face to all good fundies.

2. ACORN. Remember how Sarah Palin objected to community organizers, notably anyone involved with ACORN. Registering voters? What kind of commie crap is that? So, all the right-wingers have to see is ACORN and they go bat-shit crazy.

3. Railroads. Not sure why Republicans hate mass transit so much. Americans are crazy about their passenger trains, especially new light-rail systems that are springing up everywhere, notably in the cities of the West, e.g. Denver and Phoenix. Trains settled the West and drove off the buffalo and the Indians. Since Wyoming Republicans hate wolves so much, you'd think they'd come up with a plan to build a train through Yellowstone. But a top-notch train system would be great for the country and help make us more energy efficient. A high-speed rail line along the heavily traveled I-15 corridor from L.A. to Las Vegas could save us millions of gallons of fuel a year. Oh, now I see. Rail systems mean energy savings. No need for foreign oil. Or Texas oil companies. That will never do.

4. Why would Rep. Lummis be against disease prevention? Again, we're dealing with those right-wing code words. "Sexually transmitted diseases." Only "those people" gets STDs, you know, the darker-skinned populations. And the licentious ones, those people with no morals and no means. Non-Christians. Non-Republicans.

5. Social Security Administration? Is that thing still around? I thought Dubya banished it?

6. Uh oh. "Universal health care." Those are fighting words to Republicans. Again, it's code. Universal health care equals single-payer system equals socialized medicine equals "We're no better than the Canadians." A program to train more primary care providers would lead to a ready supply of doctors for rural and underserved communities, something desperately needed in states such as Wyoming. You'd think that Wyoming's lone U.S. Rep. would support a program that would get doctors out into small communities where they're really needed.

Gosh, I could go on and on but it's getting late.

We deserve better representation than this.

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