Hatch can use the state firearm to slay the budget dragon
Fighting pork at last? Sen. Orrin Hatch said Tuesday he is taking his name off $1.2 billion in earmark requests in the 2011 federal budget, and I hope that's a good thing.
Fighting earmarks is all the rage. Before we shower Sen. Hatch with praise for saving the republic from fiscal disaster, a couple of thoughts.
Hatch took his name off earmark requests that are in a budget that may never be passed. Congress has until midnight Friday to approve either a brand-new 2011 budget or a "continuing resolution," which would keep the 2010 budget in place. The 2010 budget included scads of Hatch earmarks, although that money's already spent.
If the 2011 budget is approved this week, Sen. Hatch's earmarks won't be there, but Sen. Robert Bennett's will, and he and Hatch co-sponsored many. So Hatch will be able to say he fought earmarks, but the people who want them will get most of the money anyway. Neat.
If nothing happens with the 2011 budget until January, who knows what the new Congress will do?
Sen.-elect Mike Lee is a staunch anti-earmarker. Reps. Rob Bishop and Jason Chaffetz have taken the pledge, so millions of dollars that used to come to Utah for education, military, transit, water projects, agricultural work and other causes really could stop.
Then what? Do without or raise our own taxes. These guys keep saying Utah can take care of herself. Taxes are what pays the bills.
* Official state silliness. Dr. Brian Moench, founder of the Physicians for a Healthy Environment, sent me a letter talking about a new danger to our air, an effort by Kennecott Copper's owners to expand their mine.
In that letter Moench -- sarcastically, he admits -- says that if Rep. Carl Wimmer, R-Herriman, can propose a state firearm, he can propose a state environmental toxin.
I went, "State firearm?"
It seems Wimmer wants to introduce a bill to make the Browning .45 cal. 1911 automatic the official Utah State Firearm. I'm not sure we need a state firearm, but what the heck, this one was invented by Ogden native John Browning.
If Wimmer's bill is approved, we can use the state firearm to kill a state animal (Rocky Mountain elk) that we put in a state cooking pot (Dutch oven), garnish with the state fruit (cherries) and a side of state vegetables (Spanish sweet onion) roasted over a glowing bed of state rock (coal) and serve it up decorated with the state flower (Sego lily).
Standing over the coal fire, you will inhale Moench's idea of a state toxin, PM 2.5, tiny bits of particulate matter that cars and coal-fired plants fill the air with. Utah leads the nation in dirty air every winter.
Next up: Nominations for state breathing filter and state personal body armor.
* Thankful veterans. On Friday, John Cole, a member of both the Chosin Few and the Utah Military Order of the Purple Heart, will give Terri Scovill, who works at Autoliv, a special Purple Heart plaque for her continuing help with John's efforts to honor veterans.
"From the beginning, from when I was doing the first monument for the Chosin Few, she did all the invitations and the programs, and all she'd let me do is pay for the materials," John said. Through several new monuments and monument moves, she's done the same.
Doing them "at cost" doesn't sound like a lot, but little things add up. John and the vets are grateful.