I was struck by the audacity of Sherwood Boehlert's statement about the new federal budget that I read in the Rochester Democrat and Chronicle this morning.
"It is a bold and much-needed step to ensure our future prosperity," Boehlert said. He was talking about the American Competitiveness Initiative, which will distribute $380 million across the United States. Congressman Boehlert is apparently hoping that some of that $380 million might fall into the 24th District. That's a sweet hope, but there isn't much substance behind it. As the lame duck outgoing chair of the House Science Committee, Sherwood Boehlert just doesn't have the clout to bring much money into the 24th District any more.
Besides, any money that does come into our area as a result of the American Competitiveness Initiative will be overshadowed by the huge amount of money that will be sucked out of our region by the Bush Budget's immense cuts to the kinds of social programs that make up a large part of the 24th District's economy.
Sherwood Boehlert is clapping his hands in the hope that he will get a fraction of $380 million dollars in spending to our district. But what he isn't telling you is that the same budget he refers to as "bold and much needed" will rip money out of our local economy. What is $380 million dollars compared to the $36 billion that Bush and Boehlert will take out of the Medicare program for our senior citizens? What is it compared to the $5 billion that Bush and Boehlert will be taking away from assistance to farmers in rural districts like ours? What is it compared to the $4.9 billion that Bush and Boehlert will take away from medical care for children - children, for pity's sake?
The American Competitiveness Initiative is a drop in the bucket, and Sherwood Boehlert is tossing the whole bucket of water out the door. A fact is a fact - Sherwood Boehlert causes more problems for the 24th District than he solves. He doesn't have the strength to stand up for our real needs here, and as a result, Boehlert oversees a virtual flood of money leaving our local economy, never to return.
We will all be paying for decades for the "bold" withdrawal of federal funding from our district. Without the help from the federal government we need and deserve, our state and local governments will be left holding the bill, and our taxes will all go up, thanks to Sherwood Boehlert.
But, then again, Sherwood Boehlert is likely retiring from Congress this year, so maybe he feels like he doesn't need to worry about it. And, with wealthy friends like Walter Rich, Sherwood Boehlert will always be taken care of. Who knows - perhaps after he takes a year off from work in 2007, Sherwood Boehlert could return to Washington D.C... as a lobbyist.