Texas Liberal

All People Matter

Senator Ted Stevens’ Conception Of Earmarks Mirrors An Aspect Of Henry Clay’s “American System”

Alaska Senator Ted Stevens is known as a champion of Congressional earmarks for his home state of Alaska. He has been criticized for what is often termed “pork ” by those who oppose his appropriations.

Senator Stevens is unrepentant.

According to The 2008 Almanac of American Politics, Mr. Stevens said this about the federal money to Alaska—

Congress has not awakened to the fact that we’ve got a state with one-fifth the land in this country. My mission is to try to make Congress understand that the promise of statehood is that we should have the ability to establish a workable private-enterprise economy in the areas that want it. And that’s basically 90% of the state.” 

This argument mirrors one aspect of the “American System” championed by Henry Clay of Kentucky in the first half of the 19th Century.

Clay advocated public money for roads, canals and other improvements to help build the American economy. One can see an analogy between Clay’s America, still a frontier in many respects, and Stevens’ Alaska in 2007.   

Click here to read about what the Erie Canal did for New York State.

I favor the idea of earmarks. While no doubt some are wasteful, I support the expansion of the role of the federal government and the allocation of government money into local communities across the country. This is a core mission of American liberalism and we should be proud of the fact that people are being helped and jobs are being created. That is what tax money is for.

November 14, 2007 - Posted by | Books, Political History, Politics | , , , , , , , ,

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