Thursday, May 25, 2006

Harold Ford Jr. Praised For Openness In Government

It looks as though people appreciate openness and honesty in their government.

The following article is from the Jackson Sun and praises Congressman Ford for his display of openness by making his pork project wish list public:

Three members of Tennessee's congressional delegation should be commended for bucking the system in Washington and making their "wish lists" accessible to the public. Although they are not required to do so, their constituents, and all Tennesseans, will benefit greatly from this startling dose of openness. It should become the norm.

U.S. Rep. Lincoln Davis, D-Pall Mall, is being joined by fellow Democrats Jim Cooper of Nashville and Harold Ford Jr. of Memphis in releasing the information. Together, they are asking for more than $575 million in next year's budget to cover more than 125 projects in Tennessee. As for the eight other Tennessee lawmakers who did not release their "wish lists," we would simply ask them: What do they have to hide?

There are plenty of legitimate reasons for lawmakers setting money aside for projects to benefit their district. Without earmarking, important projects like transportation and infrastructure improvements might not get funded. Likewise, quality of life improvements like performing arts centers or bike trails might be left wanting.

The problem comes when lawmakers are reluctant to reveal who is asking them for money. Last year, they spent more than $64 billion on earmarks. The public has a right to know who has their hand out for their tax dollars.

Lawmakers shouldn't forget just whose money they're spending. For Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist to say that releasing the spending requests he evaluates is "not beneficial" is an outrage. Not beneficial to whom? This is taxpayers' money that's being asked for. They have a right to know who wants it and for what.

We're glad to see that at least three members of our state delegation remember who they work for. Other members should do the same, break their silence and release their spending requests. We also would encourage both houses of Congress to lift the ridiculous blanket bans against releasing this information.

Doing so would give real meaning to efforts to pass ethics reform. And it might be a step toward helping rebuild the public's trust.

Congressman Ford is a leader by example.

He has shown that he is serious about passing real ethics reform in Washington that will make our government more transparent, more honest, and accountable to the people.

John Boehner and the Republicans should follow Ford's footsteps and get honest with the people of America.

The first thing they should do is admit that they have an ethics problem and commit to fixing it

That is the least they could do.