Sunday, November 28, 2004

The Dip of the Month award goes to...

...Rep. Ernest Istook (R-A cave somewhere), the man who wanted to have authority to look at everyone's tax returns then tried to dodge responsibility when he was caught - and who is also engaged in a foul attempt to kill Amtrak by punishing its supporters.

Via TalkingPointsMemo comes a link to the November 24 issue of The Hill, which tells us that Rep. Isakook
dispensed a little appropriator’s justice, punishing 21 Republicans who wrote him a letter in support of $1.8 billion for Amtrak.

Istook, chairman of the Subcommittee on Transportation, Treasury and Independent Agencies, drastically reduced, or entirely excised, the transportation earmarks that those lawmakers were expecting to receive, making good on a little-noticed threat he issued in a letter last February.
When members of the House wrote to Isakook supporting a call for $1.8 billion for Amtrak, he replied by sending a "Dear Colleague" letter said their support for Amtrak funding,
"even if submitted in a separate document, must and will be weighed against your other requests, and I will consider it as a project request for your district."
He made no other attempt to contact those members before their funding was cut, and many of them did not learn of his actions until after the bill passed.

That he's making a blatant attempt to intimidate members into not supporting Amtrak was not even denied by his office.
"Last year, they had 32 members sign the letter, and this year it was only 21, so some people got the message," [spokeswoman Micah] Ledorf said, adding that she expects even fewer public supporters for Amtrak funding in next year’s process.
Several of the Republicans whose projects he killed are considered vulnerable and this certainly will not help them maintain support in their home districts - which means his selfish, conceited, over-the-top, high-handed thuggery is actually risking the GOPper majority in the House.

There has been some speculation about whether their dominant position will lead the rightists to overreach, as has happened many times before to dominant parties. I suppose this could be a sign of it, one where the right wing of the GOPpers feels so much in control it doesn't even have to pay attention to its own party's (by comparison, at least) moderates. So it will be interesting to see if in the wake of these two incidents the GOP House leadership will take any steps to rein in Isakook - which it appears they should do for their own, if not the country's, good.

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