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Carol Platt Liebau - Columnist

Carol Platt Liebau is a senior member of the editorial board. She is an attorney, political analyst and commentator based in San Marino, CA, and has appeared on the Fox News Channel, MSNBC, CNN, Orange County News Channel, Cox Cable and a variety of radio programs throughout the United States. A graduate of Princeton University and Harvard Law School, Carol Platt Liebau also served as the first female managing editor of the Harvard Law Review. [go to Liebau index]


Hey, Big Spender!
For Boxer, Ideology and Special Interests Trump Constituents’ Needs

[Carol Platt Liebau] 1/26/04   

Nothing will surprise me now. Nothing. Not after learning that Barbara Boxer refused to support a $373 billion appropriations bill.

Yes, the bill is a budget-buster. But California’s junior senator – so whiny and ill-informed that she qualifies as “the Barbra Streisand of the Senate” – has never earned any grade but an “F” from the National Taxpayers Union throughout the course of her Senate career. In fact, according to the NTU, in the 107th Congress, had all the legislation Boxer supported passed, the United States would have seen its budget increase at an annualized rate of $88.8 billion. Clearly, this is a woman who loooves to spend the taxpayers’ money.

Given her spending record and fervent support for big government, it’s almost impossible to believe that Barbara Boxer would vote against a pork-laden bill funding government operations. But what removes her decision from the realm of the surprising to the simply unthinkable is this: The bill that Senator Boxer opposed (and which was supported, incidentally, by Dianne Feinstein) included: $225 million to prevent mudslides, eliminate trees destroyed by bark beetles, and provide relief for farmers who lost their crops in last autumn’s devastating wildfires. It also awarded the state $300 million to help reimburse state and local governments for the costs of jailing illegal immigrants who commit crimes, and provided $85 million in grants to facilitate communication between police, firefighters and emergency workers in case of an emergency.

It’s ironic that Boxer would choose this moment to reject federal help – particularly for the damage inflicted by the fires, after she worked to stymie forest thinning initiatives that might have made the fires less destructive. Certainly her refusal to support much-needed assistance to Californians now stands in sharp contrast to some of the other spending she has supported through the years.

Memorably, Boxer once slipped $3 million into the Senate’s fiscal year 2000 Defense Appropriations Bill to have the battleship USS Iowa towed to San Francisco from Rhode Island. And back in 1998, she found herself able to support a Senate transportation bill that included nearly $1 billion to develop and construct high-speed magnetic levitation trains throughout the country – and inserted in that bill language that would have enabled San Mateo County to receive “emergency” funding for a $146 million highway project.

Just this month, Boxer called on the U.S. Department of Agriculture to perform mad cow disease testing on all slaughtered cattle intended for the food supply during the next six months – even though cattle officials insist that such testing is neither practical nor necessary. The price tag? A cool $1 billion. And in delivering a response to the President’s weekly radio address back in November, she suggested raising the minimum wage and passing a “manufacturing jobs” bill. That agenda doesn’t sound cheap, either.

Asked to explain her opposition to the appropriations bill, Boxer pointed to two provisions within it: New overtime rules supported by the Bush administration and a measure requiring gun background checks to be destroyed more quickly after their completion.

What are these measures that supposedly justify Boxer’s vote? The overtime rules enable employers more easily to classify employees earning more than $65,000 yearly as managers (which might deprive them of overtime) – but at the same time, the rule will actually help lower-income workers by guaranteeing them overtime. And the gun rule would merely require destruction of background check records for gun purchases – when no red flags are detected by law enforcement – in 24 hours, rather than allowing records to be held for 90 days.

So what we have learned is this: Barbara Boxer will cling to her left-wing ideology even when it threatens the legitimate needs of Californians. Apparently, the demands of her special interests – unions and the far-left anti-gun lobby – matter more than the safety and well-being of her constituents.

In the September 2002 Washingtonian magazine’s “Best and Worst of Congress” poll of Capitol Hill staffers, Barbara Boxer was named first runner-up in the “No Rocket Scientist” category (she was edged out for the big win by Washington Democrat Patty Murray). Even so, it shouldn’t take a rocket scientist to understand that, as a senator, her first loyalty should be to the people who elected her to the U.S. Senate – not to the special interests who are subsidizing her efforts to remain there.

Barbara Boxer is an embarrassment. And it’s time for her to go.


CRO columnist Carol Platt Liebau is a political analyst and commentator based in San Marino, CA.

copyright 2004


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