The Huffington Post reported last night on Sen. John McCain’s inaccurate claim that he supported “every” investigation into the response to Hurricane Katrina:
Appearing at a press conference in Louisiana on Wednesday, McCain claimed that he had supported “every investigation” into the flawed response to Hurricane Katrina, when, in fact, he had twice voted against creating a commission to inspect the tragedy.
The remark immediately bounced around political circles and websites. After all it was just a few months ago when McCain defended those very votes on the back of his campaign bus, casting them as part of a broader campaign against wasteful spending.
“I’m proud of my support of American citizens regarding the taxpayers,” the Senator said in April. “I will not vote for projects and programs and bills that are laden with pork-barrel projects that waste taxpayers’ dollars.”
McCain’s excuse for opposing that investigation is just as notable as the opposition.
McCain has portrayed himself as the ultimate pork-buster, bravely rooting out wasteful spending on bloated government. In fact, it is his main plank in his economic strategy. From his Tuesday night speech:
I take America’s economic security as seriously as I do her physical security. For eight years the federal government has been on a spending spree that added trillions to the national debt. It spends more and more of your money on programs that have failed again and again to keep up with the changes confronting American families.
Extravagant spending on things that are not the business of government indebts us to other nations; fuels inflation; raises interest rates; and encourages irresponsibility. I have opposed wasteful spending by both parties and the Bush administration.
It’s a compelling tautology. Wasteful spending should be stopped because it is wasteful.
But as I noted when shredding the annual “Pig Book” from inaccurately named Citizens Against Government Waste, a lot of folks throw around the “pork” label without bothering to assess if the targeted spending is actually wasteful.
And by characterizing an independent Katrina investigation (as well as $28 billion in relief for victims) as “pork-barrel projects that waste taxpayers’ dollars,” only shows poor judgment in distinguishing between wasteful spending and worthy investment.
That is the true test for politicians. Anyone can rail against pork. Anyone can claim to oppose wasteful spending.
But can the politician accurately identify where the wasteful spending is?