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MORNING BUZZ: The Deal, The Dinner and Cher

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Good Morning!
It’s Friday and I find myself headed into a busy weekend. I’m glad. Dinner with friends tonight, A great day of College football watching The Missouri Tigers take on Florida. Tomorrow night we’re headed to the JDRF Gala. Should be fun!

The News:

The Deal
So they’re unraveling the deal to end the shutdown and raise the debt ceiling and inside there is a spending provision that adds an extra 2.9 billion dollars to the Government’s tab. It’s a lock and dam project on the Ohio river. Not so coincidentally it sits along the border of Kentucky and Ohio. Reporters are pointing out that it is a project Sen Minority Leader Mitch McConnell supported.
Most of the fuss is coming from McConnell’s Republican Primary challenger. No surprise he is a Tea Party guy who is calling this a “Kentucky kickback” as if McConnell is getting a bag of money under the table. The truth, of course is as muddy as the Ohio River.
Here’s a good article from a reporter who’s covered the reconstruction of the lock and dam system on the Ohio since it was authorized. Did I mention that was 30 YEARS AGO!
I’m sure critics of the deal would say this was supposed to be a “clean” CR. No extra spending. Well they added some.

I wouldn’t be surprised if Democrats offered this up to sweeten the deal for McConnell…and remember who represents the OTHER side of the river…Speaker Boehner!
It might be easier to get upset about this if it were a project that were jumping its place in the pipeline. This one was authorized 30 years ago! Also this project isn’t just about Kentucky. Ohio, Illinois, Iowa, Missouri…all the way down to Louisiana…all of those state’s benefit.
But McConnell’s opponent will seize on it and try to paint him as a Washington insider who just spends taxpayer money willy nilly. The muddy truth is that this project would have been cheaper if Congress hadn’t screwed around with the funding. Delays…starts and stops have all ballooned the cost of this project…no doubt because someone complained about the costs. Ironic?
It’s a lot of money to be sure but running one of the largest nation’s in the world and one of the world’s leading economies costs money.
This is the fundamental flaw in the argument some Conservative’s are making right now on the budget. No one likes taxes, everyone wants the government to use the money we send it every April wisely. But it’s not as simple as…don’t spend. If this part of the bill hadn’t been attached it would have flushed $160 billion down the Ohio! Is The group backing the Tea Party candidate in favor was wasting $160 million? Some estimates say the shutdown cost the economy $24 billion! How is that the policy of someone who calls themselves a fiscal conservative?
The New York Times blog The Caucus lays out what happened:

…But in this case, the request for the Kentucky measure actually came from Tennessee and California.

Senator Lamar Alexander, Republican of Tennessee, said he and Senator Dianne Feinstein, a California Democrat, asked that the authorization for the Olmsted project be included to avoid losing $160 million in canceled contracts.

“It’s the biggest lock in the country, and I’m not going to stand around and see $160 million wasted,” Mr. Alexander said on Wednesday. The project, which has been approved by both the House and Senate before, would replace existing locks and dams near the confluence of the Mississippi and Ohio Rivers, affecting Illinois, Tennessee and Kentucky.

In an interview on Thursday with the talk radio station WVLK, Mr. McConnell dismissed the idea that the authorization was an earmark, saying that the Army Corps of Engineers had requested the money and that other senators had been able to review the deal and none asked for it to be removed.

“If he didn’t want the earmark included, he could have kept it out,” Mr. Hoskins said in the statement.

The dispute reflects a broader cultural change in Congress: Mr. McConnell is trying to deflect responsibility for financing a project that will most likely bring jobs and improve trade in his region. In the more recent past, a top spokesman for Mr. McConnell called the Olmsted Dam “a top infrastructure priority for Kentucky” in an August interview with James Bruggers of The Courier-Journal of Louisville.

I’ve said here before…it’s never that simple. But we’ve got a lot of people in Washington right now…Democrat and Republican, who seem fond of poll tested soundbites and fortune cookie wisdom. We need someone who’s actually reading the legislation they write…someone who actually understands…or at least tries to understand how the government works.

The Dinner
The Annual Thanksgiving dinner at Chuck’s restaurant will feed 3500+ people again this year…It’s a tradition we cover every year and every year the sense of community pride and compassion for neighbors is obvious among the volunteers. I was sad to hear, first of all, that Chuck’s owner Linda Bisignano is sick. She’s always been very kind to us and generous with her time during a busy weekend. Because Linda is selling the restaurant, there is some questions as to how and in what form the dinner will continue. I’d hope that even if it can’t continue there for some reason, that the community would help find a place where this service can continue. Speaking from experience, there’s nothing worse than spending Thanksgiving alone. A meal delivered or a meal shared at Chuck’s can be a really bright moment for people who could use it.

So tickets go on sale for the Cher concert today…I’m not going. Jeriann was trying to come up with a Cher song today after we mentioned the concert…she couldn’t. But it reminded me of one of the funniest episodes of Will and Grace I ever saw.
You know the one I’m talking about?

Will & Grace – Cher & Jack by salty26

Last but not least, it’s marathon weekend in Des Moines. Pre-congratualtions to all of you who trained so hard and will (I have no doubt) finish the marathon this weekend. My family and I will spend Sunday morning as will be the ones on the curb eating a box of donuts!
Have a good one!


  • William Denison

    Eewwww, How old is Cher? I’m thinking shes got to be 80ish. I remember back in the 70’s as a small child seeing Cher on a black and white TV talking about something being really “far out man”.
    As for Chucks closing why not WHO TV host a dinner for the homeless on Thanksgiving? The station can have its cameras there in the faces of those in need and take away what little pride the they have left. Oh thats right my bad…. they do that anyway.

  • Patrick Dix

    Whoa Bill…Lets take a step back…first of all there are more than homeless people who go to chuck’s…some people just don’t have anyone to spend the holiday with and like the sense of community. Many of the meal deliveries are to shut-ins who might not otherwise be with other people and our stories often focus on the volunteers. But if you have a specific complaint, I’d be happy to get an email or phone call from you and we can address it. Thanks for the comment

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