“We would be stealing from our nation's military and hard-working taxpayers if this amendment were to pass.”
Those are the words of Representative Richard Hudson of South Carolina. Hudson, a Republican was opposing an amendment to a bill—an amendment sponsored by Betty McCollum, a Democrat who represents a district in Minnesota. I have no doubt that, in a general way, I’d find more reason to agree with Hudson than McCollum in most cases.
In this case, the issue was ending the National Guard’s sponsorship of NASCAR racing and professional wrestling. McCollum claims this spending is a waste that results in no recruits. In the case of NASCAR, last year McCollum revealed that a driver was sponsored to wear the National Guard logo, and was paid 136 million dollars over five years—“making him the highest paid military contractor in professional sports.” Yet, USA Today discovered that the effort had resulted in no recruits.
McCollum won her case and managed to get the funding pulled in 2012. But then NASCAR lobbied hard, acted outraged, and got the funding reinstated.
Whatever you think about the military sponsoring NASCAR, I don’t understand why Hudson thinks cutting that funding would constitute “stealing from our nation’s military and hard-working taxpayers.”
I tend to think that the fact the government has the money to spend indicates it was already stolen from the hard-working tax-victims.
It may be relevant that Hudson’s North Carolina district sports “a major NASCAR tract.” Hudson insists that, because “Ninety percent of the Army National Guard soldiers who enlisted or re-enlisted from 2007 to 2013 said they had been exposed to the Guard through recruiting or retention materials featuring NASCAR, this is evidence of the value of those millions of dollars. Really? These people would have quit if it hadn’t been for the use of proprietary NASCAR logos on the materials? That justifies tens of millions of dollars every year?
According to Hudson, the expense is more than justified: “you can’t put a price on that return on investment. To end such a beneficial program would be absolute foolishness.”
McCollum, being liberal, may have a much lower view of NASCAR and wrestling than Hudson. But even a preference that derives from bias isn’t always wrong. Are we in a crisis due to a coming debt apocalypse or not? It is hard to read Hudson’s press release and not be reminded of all the politicians and pundits moaning over the sequester. Is there any spending cut that is not, in Hudson’s words, “irresponsible”?
Behind all that, what about the Pentagon? If, as I suspect, the NASCAR spending is more beneficial to Hudson’s district than it is to the Pentagon, then we see how a politician can be owned. Even if Hudson did find Pentagon spending that was wasteful and should be cut, could he afford to vote his conscience? What would happen if someone called him up from the National Guard and told him that, if he voted the wrong way, the NASCAR Sponsorship would also be cut?
Who really owns “our representatives”?