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NH-1: The Latest Earmark Battleground?

I suppose being the front-runner in a campaign is a double-edged sword; most folks have likely heard of you before, but everyone behind you is gunning for you. In Frank Guinta’s case he also has a paper trail as the former Mayor of Manchester that he just can’t seem to run away from fast enough.

Now, for the record, if he clears New Hampshire’s September 14 primary I have already said I will vote for him – Carol Shea-Porter is the worst thing that’s ever happened to my beloved adopted home. Having said that, and with little more than a month to go before the primary, now is the time to find the right fit for the person we need in Washington to clean up the mess…not make it worse. In the matter of Guinta, so far I’m not sold.

The latest flap starts with Beth LaMontagne’s Article on August 1st in the Manchester Union Leader. She tells us that NH-1 GOP House candidate Frank Guinta:

…”may not have asked for any federal earmarks when he was mayor, and he says he won’t ask for them if elected to Congress. But he now says he did take advantage of funds specifically earmarked for Manchester, including for sewer overflow, an anti-crime Operation Streetsweeper, and a bridge named for U.S. Sen. Judd Gregg.”

We’ve been here before with Guinta; being against a thing NOW after having been FOR it in the past…or used it to his advantage…and when pressed, blaming everyone else for having forced him to go along with it. His Mayoral paper trail (here, and here) regarding earmarks for Manchester during his watch puts him at direct odds with his campaign rhetoric, especially when you consider that he is poking the pointy stick at Shea-Porter over…

wait for it…

earmarks.

Back when I first started taking a closer look at this Congressional race I made the observation that Guinta had a bit of a problem with grandstanding and pointing fingers at everyone else over the Stimulus bill. I further opined that “principles seem to vary depending on whether he’s talking as a Mayor or as a Candidate for the US House pandering for a couple votes.”

Barely a week later, he was at it again…this time muddying the waters over Cap & Trade. Now that he’s running for the US House he’s against it, but as Mayor he signed on to the global warming myth and the so-called “climate protection” concept with both the US Mayors AND the Sierra Club’s “Cool Cities” Agreement.

So, in the matter of earmarks then (which he is against now), it should come as no surprise that he HAS in fact used earmarks as Mayor…and that, when pressed (on the Judd Gregg Bridge) he blamed the Aldermen. Now, while I am normally loathe to link a lefty blog in my posts, even I feel compelled to ask Guinta: who IS running the show if not you?

Don’t get me wrong here…earmarks have their place. However much the Left AND the Right like using them to buy votes or as weapons of blunt force trauma against the other party…the earmark process can be used to do civic good. The bigger issue here is why Guinta chose to be against them when he knows full well he has used them… and why he chose to blame others for it. He could have told us they need to be better managed, looked at with more scrutiny, and rejected where they are wasteful. And there’s plenty of wasteful earmark spending going on (from December ’05-money that Guinta started spending when he was sworn in in January ’06):

#74 Authorized to enter into an agreement with Southern NH Services Incorporated, Manchester, NH, to provide translation and interpretation services in an amount not to exceed $275,826. Effective upon G&C approval through June 30, 2007. 42% Federal, 58% General Funds.

#110 Authorized to amend a grant with the Alliance for Community Supports, Manchester, NH, (previously approved by G&C on 1-12-05, item #59), to provide training and services to those who are supporting educationally disabled students who are at risk of school dropout, by increasing the amount from $112,292 to $154,068 and by extending the end date from December 31, 2005 to September 22, 2006. (2)Further Authorized unencumbered payment of said grant with internal accounting control within the Department of Education. 100% Federal Funds.

Hmm…with the economy heading into the tank back then, did we really need $275,826.00 for translation and interpretation services? Or $154,068 to train dropout intervention people when NH has one of the lowest dropout rates in the country? And, if we needed the services couldn’t we have made cuts to them…or others of less critical value in order to be more fiscally responsive and responsible?

A cursory skim of what Shea-Porter is STILL up to, or even Judd Gregg for that matter could have been decent fodder for Guinta to stand on the principle of “smart” spending rather than making a stand against the very spending he did on a routine basis as Mayor.

I just can’t help but wonder what Guinta will say to us when, after he’s elected, he finds himself having to go along with something he’ll blame the House Leadership for having made him vote in favor of. I’m just not sold on whether Guinta is a leader…or whether he’s going to just go along to get along. If it’s the latter, we won’t be any better off for having given him those 2 years in DC he wants so badly…and commenter “Mike” over at LaMontagne’s Union Leader piece agrees:

Guinta is a typical gutless politican who talks out of both sides of his mouth and another place [I] cannot mention here! Do you people actually think he can stand up to the likes of Pelosi, Hoyer, Boehner et al?

Fair question, Mike…fair question.

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