Montana 2006 3-way Senate Debate: on Government Reform


Conrad Burns: Earmarks let me bring Montana a share of federal money

Q: Which of the 34 Montana earmarks in the latest transportation bill qualify as unjustified pork?

TESTER: Earmarking in the middle of the night, without transparency, is wrong for representative democracy.

JONES: Incumbents always put something in the transportation bill so they can brag about all the money they brought to the state. None of the 34 are qualified.

BURNS: I'm proud about what I brought back to Montana. Most of it is for infrastructure [in that bill]. That money's going to be spent somewhere in America, and I want Montana to get her share. If you leave it up to a faceless un-elected bureaucrat, with only 900,000 people, tell me how much we're gonna get? Earmarks have to withstand the scrutiny of the subcommittee hearing, the full Committee hearing, & the full Senate. I have to go out & defend them, and it's pretty hard sometimes. We defend them, our name is on them, and that's the way the process works. If they can't stand the scrutiny, they will not make it.

Source: 2006 Montana 3-way Senate Debate at MSU Oct 9, 2006

Jon Tester: Earmarks without transparency are wrong for democracy

Q: Which of the 34 Montana earmarks in the latest transportation bill qualify as unjustified pork?

TESTER: The current process of earmarking in the middle of the night, without transparency, is the wrong way for representative democracy to be working. Good projects, like this land-grant university, can stand up to the scrutiny of the light of day. Quite frankly, I don't support earmarks, period.

If a project's a good project, which includes probably most if not all of those 34 earmarks, they could withstand scrutiny in front of the entire Congress. I'm not for earmarks because they don't pass public scrutiny with the transparency that our government and our forefathers set up.

JONES: Incumbents always put something in the transportation bill so they can brag about all the money they brought to the state. None of the 34 are qualified.

BURNS: I'm proud about what I brought back to Montana. That money's going to be spent somewhere in America, and I want Montana to get her share.

Source: 2006 Montana 3-way Senate Debate at MSU Oct 9, 2006

Jon Tester: K-Street cronies control Congressional spending decisions

Q: How would you reduce the federal deficit?

A: I'd start with no-bid contracts in Iraq. That's kind of wild. Then negotiations for Medicare Part D prescription drugs--I negotiate when I go to buy a pickup truck, so we ought to be negotiating-- but that's what happens when you have big pharmaceutical companies writing legislation. It's time that we spend the money wiser, that we prioritize better, and start looking out for middle class folks. But that's not the people who have control- the cronies on K-Street that buy votes have more control than the folks that elect us. You need to have people back there in Washington who have experience balancing a checkbook and setting priorities. I have balanced a checkbook in the private sector and in the public sector. My opponent has not been able to do that.

Source: 2006 Montana 3-way Senate Debate at MSU Oct 9, 2006

Stan Jones: Earmarks are unconstitutional incumbency protection

Q: Which of the 34 Montana earmarks in the latest transportation bill qualify as unjustified pork?

TESTER: The current process of earmarking in the middle of the night, without transparency, is the wrong way for representative democracy to be working.

JONES: Which qualify as unjustified pork? ALL of them. The federal transportation bill has become the true pork-barrel bill that Congress uses to enhance the ability of incumbents to get re-elected. They always put something in this bill so they can brag about all the money they brought to the state, all of which most likely is unconstitutional. Transportation bills should be for transportation. And very little federal money should be spent on transportation. Transportation is a state issue and should be funded by state funds. All 34 earmarks are unconstitutional and should be eliminated.

BURNS: I'm proud about what I brought back to Montana. That money's going to be spent somewhere in America, and I want Montana to get her share.

Source: 2006 Montana 3-way Senate Debate at MSU Oct 9, 2006

  • The above quotations are from Sen. Conrad Burns (R-MT) Jon Tester (D) & Stan Jones (Libertarian) debate at Montana State University in Bozeman, Montana. Sponsored by Montana PBS, Oct. 9, 2006..
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2008 Presidential contenders on Government Reform:
Republicans:
Chmn.John Cox
Mayor Rudy Giuliani
Gov.Mike Huckabee
Rep.Duncan Hunter
Sen.John McCain
Rep.Ron Paul
Gov.Mitt Romney
Sen.Fred Thompson
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Sen.Mike Gravel
Rep.Dennis Kucinich
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Independent: Mayor Mike Bloomberg
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