Just make it out to … : Lawmakers want OH taxpayers to sign blank check


By Maggie Thurber | for Ohio Watchdog

BLANK CHECK: Some members of Ohio’s congressional delegation want a blank check from taxpayers to fund their pet projects.

Giving members of Congress a blank check for their pet projects makes little sense but, apparently, that’s what they want.

Rep. Joyce Beatty, for instance, wants a check for her S.O.S. Act, according to the Washington Examiner,

Rep. Tim Ryan wants one for alternative medicine.

Rep. Marcy Kaptur wants three — two for investigations and one for her Ethics in Foreign Lobbying Act.

Each of these bills – and others – identify the amount of the appropriation as “such sums as necessary.”

It amounts to a blank check.

Perhaps using “such sums as necessary’” is appropriate for Kaptur’s investigations into the Financial Crisis Criminal Investigation Act and the Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac Investigative Commission Act. You never know where an open-ended investigation may lead or how much it will cost.

But perhaps a more fiscally responsible approach involves setting an initial limit on funding and requiring further authorization from Congress for anything more —only if evidence is presented to justify continuing the investigation, of course. Otherwise, lawmakers are using an unlimited amount time and money for a witch hunt, and any role Congress might have played in a respective mess would be off-limits, I’m sure.

Beatty’s Support Our Students Act of 2013, also known as the S.O.S. Act, would support teacher and school professional training on student mental health conditions and suicide-prevention efforts.

It would consist of grants to states, which would then offer grants to local jurisdictions that would “utilize school counselors, school psychologists, school social workers, or community organizations with experience in mental illness and suicide prevention” to develop and conduct training on mental health issues in children.

As if our teachers didn’t have enough to worry about already.

Ryan’s bill would “improve health care furnished by the Department of Veterans Affairs and the Department of Defense by increasing access to complementary and alternative medicine and other approaches to wellness and preventive care, and for other purposes.”

“Other purposes” is not defined.

Ryan also wants a blank check for his Innovation Inspiration School Grant Program Act. Basically, he wants the federal government to hand out competitive grants to support science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) in secondary schools, giving priority to low-performing schools and schools in which students are eligible for free or reduced school lunches.

Note that the bill doesn’t say ‘participating’ in the school lunch program — just ‘eligible.’

More than 100 “funding opportunities already exist for STEM related grants,” according to STEMgrants.com.

Rep. Marcia Fudge wants to honor a former representative by naming a fire-prevention act after her.

The Honorable Stephanie Tubbs Jones College Fire Prevention Act would create the Honorable Stephanie Tubbs Jones Fire Suppression Demonstration Program, within the Department of Education. Promoting sprinkler systems and other fire suppression and prevention technologies in qualified student housing and dorms is the goal, and at least 10 percent of the grants would go to minority institutions; 10 percent would go for social fraternities and sororities.

Don’t local fire codes already address this?

Tubbs Jones was the first African-American woman elected to the U.S. House of Representatives from Ohio. She died of a brain aneurysm in 2008. A transit center and health center in Cleveland bears her name.

Fudge has an even more outrageous request. She wants $8.9 billion plus “such sums as necessary” for her Let’s Grow Act of 2013, which will provide assistance to “create and support sustainable agriculture activities and improve access to nutrition” in cities.

Under the act, convenience stores will expand their offerings of fruit and vegetables; grants will pay for food security assessments; agricultural producers will partner with pre-school and day-care programs to develop an “industry-leading preschool nutrition education and meal program;” underserved areas will have access to healthy foods; abandoned or foreclosed properties will be converted to urban agricultural use; there will be more community gardens and urban farms; socially disadvantaged urban farmers and ranchers will get payment assistance; kids who participate in the school lunch program will be fed over the weekends and holidays; and schools, museums and libraries will be able to increase their energy efficiency.

Oh, the supplemental nutrition assistance program — SNAP, formerly the food-stamp program — will get money to “establish hunger-free communities incentive grants to improve participant access to local fruits and vegetables,” and urban farmers markets will get money to install the electronic benefit transfer system SNAP participants use.

No wonder Fudge needs a blank check.

And with bills like this, it’s no wonder the federal government has a $17 trillion debt.

Interestingly, the blank check requests come only from Ohio Democratic representatives.

Fortunately for taxpayers, GovTrack.us gives the aforementioned bills a 0 percent to 2 percent chance of being enacted. But with a blank check, any chance is unacceptable.

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