Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Laffey supports cuts in federal spending

Stephen P. Laffey yesterday unveiled a three-pronged approach to solving the federal government's budget ills, a plan he dubbed "The Road to Fiscal Sanity."

"We want to get the United States back on the right road so that more Americans have a chance at the American dream," the Cranston mayor and Republican candidate for U.S. Senate said in a news conference at his campaign headquarters.

Laffey assailed his opponent, Sen. Lincoln D. Chafee, for voting in favor of the $286.5-billion transportation bill last year, and President Bush for not vetoing it.

The bill, which contained scores of so-called pork projects, "may be a nice headline for incumbent senators at election time, but it's a lousy deal for Rhode Island taxpayers," Laffey said.

In response to the argument that a senator can't get support for projects in his own state unless he agrees he'll also support items such as Alaska's infamous "bridge to nowhere," which would connect the town of Ketchikan (population 8,000) to a nearby island with a population of 50, Laffey proposes separating each earmarked project for an individual vote, and requiring a two-thirds majority vote to attach an earmark.

Laffey is such a dedicated iconoclast that he occasionally trips across some good ideas just to stick his fingers in the eyes of "The Man" (usually Linc Chafee)--for example, he'll happily call "bullshit" on pet projects like Alaskan bridges, no matter who pushed the project, and a few weeks ago he came out in favor of tax credits for renewable sources of energy like solar and wind.

Regardless of the quality of his ideas, though, the man is plainly unsuited for the Senate. While I'm not thrilled with the excess of going-along-to-get-along that can characterize Congress at times, he comes across as a Mr. Smith with a God complex--someone who thinks the Senate will run just fine once he tells his colleagues what they're doing wrong. I can see it now--"Excuse me, Senator Stevens? I've given this a lot of thought, and I really think it's in everyone's best interests to make ANWR drilling contingent on a two-thirds majority." Please.

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