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Alabama Pols: Let Others Sacrifice to Reduce Deficit

By Doug Messier
Parabolic Arc
March 6, 2011
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The Huntsville Times takes a look at the love-hate relationship that Alabama’s elected officials have toward the federal government which they are determined to cut back on while squeezing every possible cent out of it to benefit their own constituents. Despite their calls to make sacrifices to reduce the national deficit, they are determined to make sure their state doesn’t do so.

The reason is fairly simple:

“There is no entity more important” to Huntsville than the federal government, [Rep. Mo] Brooks said, noting that the military and NASA support some 38,000 jobs in the area.

“No city within a country mile” rivals Huntsville’s federal ties, according to Sen. Jeff Sessions, R-Mobile. He added that Redstone Arsenal has a $2.9 billion payroll – nearly double the $1.57 billion General Fund budget for the entire state of Alabama.

“The federal government is very important to us. It’s a major part of our economic engine,” said Huntsville Mayor Tommy Battle.

In other words, the local economy would essentially collapse without massive federal spending that these guys otherwise profess to hate. They rationale this position by saying that the spending is crucial to the natoin:

Everyone’s budgets will be cut to some degree, space and defense included, they say. But the high-tech, high-flying federal programs that Huntsville has built a reputation around are essential to vital U.S. interests. Washington not only can, but must, pay for such endeavors if America is to maintain its status as the premier global superpower, they say.

While the rest of the economy struggles to grow, Huntsville is booming due to government spending:

Government Executive magazine’s August issue features a cover story on Huntsville titled, “The New Federal City: Huntsville, Ala., is becoming the center of gravity for key agencies.”

The magazine, which gives an account of Huntsville’s and Redstone Arsenal’s growth, includes interviews with several families who have relocated here as a result of the 2005 Base Realignment and Closure Commission’s shift of nearly 5,000 federal jobs from the Washington area to Redstone.

The irony hasn’t stopped Alabama Sen. Sessions from channeling Winston Churchill in the deficit fight:

“We are going to fight for spending cuts this week, next week, next month, and next year,” Sessions said. “We are going to fight for spending cuts in the Budget Committee, in the Appropriations Committee, and on the Senate floor.

“We are going to keep fighting for a leaner, more productive government until we have restored confidence in our economy and put this country back on the right path — the path to prosperity.”

And there’s also this:

The federal government, “in a word, is broke,” said Sen. Jeff Sessions. But, the Mobile Republican, who has become one of the GOP’s biggest advocates for cutting federal spending, thinks the country should still pay for rockets to Mars.

“It is the one activity that defines the United States as the world’s technological leader,” Sessions said. “If we lose that, and others surpass us … then I think it will be seen as a passing of the baton.”

Those views are shared by some other fiscally minded Alabama Republicans — Republicans whose districts include NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville.

Now, the exploration of Mars is indeed an important goal. But, it’s a long-range one that n country on Earth has as its top priority. But, never mind. As they say in Alabama, one can’t expect consistency out of politicians any more than you can expect cleanliness from a pig. Or at least I think they say that. If they don’t, they should start….

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