Thursday, January 19, 2006

Sherwood Boehlert Fails Science

In the 24th District we have many colleges and universities. Unfortunately, many of our residents who work in those colleges and universities, even Democrats, have been duped into thinking that Sherwood Boehlert represents their interests well on Capitol Hill. As chair of the House Science committee, Sherwood Boehlert has the responsibility of promoting a vigorous role of science in the federal government. But how well has Sherwood Boehlert succeeded in that role.

Put simply, Sherwood Boehlert has failed miserably in his duty as chair of the Science committee. Boehlert, time and again, has failed to promote the interests of science and education.

Sherwood Boehlert's supposed achievements have been undone by his superiors in the Republican Party, and Congressman Boehlert does not have enough power to contest their will.

For example, a couple of years ago, Sherwood Boehlert bragged that he had doubled the budget of the National Science Foundation. But later, when Boehlert looked at the budgets that his own political party approved, he found that that National Science Foundation money was stripped out of the budget. In short, Boehlert has such little power in Congress that no one pays attention to his requests. His Republican colleagues simply overrule anything positive Boehlert tries to do for science.

Sherwood Boehlert was recently quoted as saying that he regards the federal science and technology budget for fiscal year 2006 as "not very adequate." Well, that's nice for him to complain, but who's fault is it that science budgets have been hacked and slashed by the Republicans. The answer is simple: It is Sherwood Boehlert's fault.

Sherwood Boehlert is a Republican chair of the science committee in the House of Representatives. If Boehlert had any skill as a politician, he would be able to ensure that the science budget was adequate, year after year. But Boehlert is not at all skillful in his work on Capitol Hill. He's more like Casper Milquetoast, and gets run over by more powerful Republicans like Dennis Hastert time after time. What good does that do for the people of the 24th District? If Sherwood Boehlert is tired, he ought to retire, and let somebody else do the job.

Consider also that, under the Bush Administration, science has come under an unprecedented attack. From the White House down, scientific methods and findings are ripped apart in the name of the right wing agenda. Throughout the federal government, scientists are complaining that they are being asked to edit their findings and reports in order to satisfy the political agendas of the Republican Party.

And what has Sherwood Boehlert done about it? Nothing. Nothing.

It is Sherwood Boehlert's responsibility, as chair of the science committee in the House of Representatives, to exercise oversight of all matters pertaining to science in the Executive Branch. Congressman Boehlert has completely failed to do so. Boehlert ought to be holding meetings, and bringing White House officials in to his committee to answer for their abuses of power in forcing scientists to serve political interests.

But, Sherwood Boehlert has failed to do so. Why? It's simple, really. Sherwood Boehlert gets big campaign donations from Republicans, and he doesn't want to defend them. So, Sherwood Boehlert has looked the other way while science has come under attack.

Whether you're a Republican or a Democrat, it makes no sense to support Sherwood Boehlert. If you're a Republican, you ought to oppose Sherwood Boehlert because he is too weak in Congress to make a difference. If you're a Democrat, you ought to oppose Sherwood Boehlert because he opposes the progressive values that Democrats share.

Congressman Sherwood Boehlert isn't doing anyone any good. It is time for him to go home, where he can't do any more harm.

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