Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Why we need new members of Congress

Traveling lets you learn stuff. One way I try to accomplish that is by buying the local newspaper when I’m on the road and stopping for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Sometimes I get hit by a stab of envy when I see that the other town has a better deal going than my town.

This happened the other day when I pulled off I-65 in Bowling Green, Kentucky, found a motel and a restaurant, and I perused the Louisville Courier-Journal over a meal.

Front-page headline: “Bridges’ finance plan OK’d.”
First paragraph: “The federal government has approved a plan to pay for the $4.1 billion Ohio River Bridges Project, clearing the way for Kentucky and Indiana to start construction this year.”

Stab of envy arose: I have closely followed the Everglades Skyway Project to build one measly bridge on a part of the Tamiami Trail and thereby help restore natural water flow in the Everglades. This eminently fine idea is going nowhere because there’s supposedly no money in the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers budget to build it.

So, I ask, how is it that Kentucky and Indiana raise a ton of federal money for their dang bridges? When they seem to have little plan for how to raise their share? And how is it that we here in South Florida, with the only Everglades in the known universe, have spent a lot of state money on restoring the Everglades but can’t get federal money?

Answer: We have feeble members of Congress, who may say they love the Everglades, but they’re not delivering. I’m referring, of course, to the infamous Republican trio of Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (FL-18), Lincoln Diaz-Balart (FL-21), and Mario Diaz-Balart (FK-25), who were in the majority in the U.S. House from 1994 until recently but haven’t done jack when it comes down to important stuff for the ages.

Solution: New members of Congress. Brilliant.

Here are links to the Courier-Journal's articles of last Friday Jan 4 and Sunday Jan 6. For good measure, here's one on Sen. Mitch McConnell's re-election campaign treasury of $11 million. Finally, here's one on a Democrat announcing to run against an incumbent Republican member of Congress -- in Kentucky, unfortunately.