Sunday, June 25, 2006

Brian Bilbray - Cunningham Lite

Last week newly sworn representative, Brian Bilbray, was given the chance to speak for the residents of the 50th district. Bilbray's votes were just what one would expect of a former lobbyist and career politician.

Bilbray voted to keep over 1500 "earmarks" in a pork filled Appropriations bill, instead of removing the "earmarks" and sending the bill to the President absent the load of pork.
Bilbray, 55, recently elected to finish the term of imprisoned former Rep. Randy “Duke” Cunningham, was sworn in June 13. The next day, the Carlsbad Republican joined a majority of House members in voting against an attempt to remove earmarks from a large spending bill, including some for the San Diego area.[...]

Andrew Roth, governmental affairs director for the conservative Club for Growth, took aim at those votes...

“How many congressmen need to be put into jail, investigated or indicted for this earmarking process?” said Roth, whose seven-year-old organization represents 35,000 members who want Washington to cut federal spending.[...]

Roth, in a subsequent interview, said Bilbray's support for the earmarks was objectionable “because during his campaign he said he was against hidden earmarks, then days after he's elected, he voted for a bill with over 1,500 earmarks, most of which were hidden.”

After a quick break, Bilbray returned to the House floor and voted to give himself a raise.
The same day as the vote on earmarks, Bilbray joined 248 other House members who rejected an attempt to force a vote on the $3,300 cost-of-living adjustment that will raise congressional pay Jan. 1 to $168,500. Congressional pay raises happen automatically each year, unless House members vote to block the increases.
Some analysts suggest that Bilbray is caught in a vise between conservatives who see him as far out of the current Republican mainstream (at least the Southern California version) and Democrats and Independents, who see Bilbray as a posturing political animal, whose sole issue is immigrant bashing.

While many observers believe Bilbray will do well in November in a rematch against Busby, political observer Jack Pitney said Bilbray's “advantage isn't so enormous that he can take the seat for granted.”

“There's still a chance there could be a big downdraft in November,” said Pitney, a professor of government at Claremont McKenna College. “Bush's popularity plummets, more bad things happen in Iraq, the economy goes south – the possibilities are endless.”

The problem as I see it is simple. Democrats will talk about how bad things are, but they won't bother to get off their butts and go vote in November, so carpetbagging lobbyist Brian Bilbray will continue to represent special interests and make sure that those who pay congressmen for earmarks get paid back at the taxpayers expense.