Thursday, May 17, 2012

COMMENTARY: Rep. Betty McCollum Is At It Again

Rep. Betty McCollum, (D) Minn.
Minnesota Congresswoman Betty McCollum just won’t take “no” for an answer.

For at least the third time in recent years, the Democratic Representative is pushing to cut Pentagon funding for NASCAR teams, in an effort to save taxpayers’ money. An amendment introduced by McCollum and Georgia Rep. Jack Kingston passed the House Appropriations Committee this week, and could ultimately be headed for a floor vote. The amendment would reduce or eliminate advertising dollars for motor sports, fishing, wrestling and mixed martial arts events, and is virtually identical to one floated by McCollum in February of 2011.

McCollum represents Minnesota’s Fourth District, which includes the capital city of St. Paul. Her website says she brings “a common sense, Minnesota perspective to her work on the House Appropriations and Budget Committees” and has been “a champion for excellence in education, protecting the environment, expanding health care access and fiscal responsibility.”

She is also no fan of NASCAR.

A year ago, she basked in the national spotlight after introducing a bill to abolish funding for NASCAR teams, race events and other ancillary programs. She railed against the alleged wastefulness of those expenditures, even after being presented with a late 2010 Simmons National Consumer Survey that showed NASCAR fans to be more than 1.5 times more likely to serve in the armed forces as non-fans.

More than one in four service members are NASCAR fans, but that doesn’t matter to Rep. McCollum. Neither do the opinions of experts like Lt. Gen. Benjamin Freakley, who testified last year that sponsorship of NASCAR teams is one of the most effective means of attracting qualified new recruits.

“This is having an impact on recruiting and helping our recruiters with their jobs,” said Freakley. “The alternative to this is having a recruiter walking up and down a mall… talking to about 150 people just to get one person to engage them. That is what we used to have to do. We have a great and, in my mind, treasured relationship with NASCAR because it gives us a great venue to tell our story as soldiers where people are receptive to it.”

Even when confronted with those facts, McCollum refused to relent, insisting that motorsports sponsorships have failed to recruit new servicemen and women. She even attempted to add a partisan slant to the debate, blaming conservative Republicans for “wasting the American peoples’ money.”

“Taxpayer-funded NASCAR race cars are an absurdity at a time when the Republican-Tea Party is cutting federal support for homeless veterans, law enforcement officers, and firefighters,” she said last year. “My Republican-Tea Party colleagues can support my amendment and stop wasting tax payer dollars, or they can vote to keep wasting the American peoples’ money.”

Republican Rep. Patrick McHenry of North Carolina, whose district is home to several NASCAR teams, said McCollum’s efforts were rooted in a personal bias against NASCAR and its fans.

“She may believe that none of her constituents watch NASCAR, but they do,” said Henry. “This shows that she is on the warpath against NASCAR. This is more about her disdain for NASCAR than it really is about saving taxpayers’ money,” calling NASCAR “a target rich environment” for military recruiters.

McCollum responded that she has “watched” several auto races, and that her only desire is to save taxpayers money.

“What is it about NASCAR as a special interest that we can’t even have an open discussion on the priorities?” she asked last year in a New York Times interview. “A lot of people who own the sports teams (are) making a lot of money. Are they wrapping themselves in the flag and the taxpayers don’t know that they’re footing the bill for it?”

McCollum admitted being approached by colleagues on both sides of the aisle discouraging her from introducing last year’s version of the bill. She ignored that advice, and ultimately claimed to have received numerous calls – and at least one death threat -- from NASCAR fans upset with her attack on the sport.

"We’ve had calls,” admitted McCollum’s Chief of Staff, Bill Harper last June. “Lots of Mississippi people, North Carolina people. We had a Florida person.”

McCollum’s 2011 amendment ultimately failed, 281-148, on a voice vote. The Congresswoman did not stick around for the vote, boarding an airplane for a “fact finding mission” in Yemen before her pet project could be voted upon.  Before leaving, she said she had a sense her amendment was doomed.

Let’s hope she gets that feeling again soon.

If you would like to express your opinion to Rep. Betty McCollum, her Washington DC office may be contacted by phone at (202) 225-6631, or via fax at (202) 225-1968. She is also on Facebook -- www.facebook.com/repbettymccollum -- and on Twitter: @BettyMcCollum04. Please conduct yourself in a manner that reflects positively on our sport.

23 comments:

  1. As a Democrat, I think this bill is RIDICULOUS. I do believe that there is money that can be cut from defense spending without hurting our military and national security, but this isn't the way to do it. The ability to recruit through racing is huge, and in the big picture, cutting it doesn't do a thing for the budget. There are other things in the defense budget that could be cut safely and actually have some sort of positive impact fiscally. This isn't one of them.

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    1. As a Republican, I agree!

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    2. pgallagher5:55 PM

      I wonder what her vote was on the new stadium for the vikings. Wether your republican or democrat. This gal has problems. LOL

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  2. Dave, as you well know from your radio show, you can't reason with idiots.

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  3. Anonymous4:38 PM

    I would like to, but it would not be printable for all to read

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  4. Marco4:51 PM

    Oh Betty, Betty, Betty. Tell us who exactly is paying your salary, your room and board, and who pray tell, is paying for that fact finding aircraft of yours? I have to believe that if you want to save the taxpayers some money, you send the internet on your fact finding missions, and maybe a nice double wide should be considered as well. We, as taxpayers, would surely see a change of heart.

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  5. Anonymous4:54 PM

    Dale Sr.once said;"Win on Sunday,sell on Monday." The cars are so close together now,all you have to do is change the word "WIN" to "RUN".I almost promise NASCAR is one of the top five recruting tools for the military.

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  6. Anonymous4:55 PM

    She's should be worried about illegal immigration. The headlines today read minorities child births are now the majority of all child births in the US.
    Let's discuss real issues facing
    Military support in any sport is so not the
    problem.

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  7. I just posted the following statement on her Facebook page under the post where she announces how her ammendment that prohibits spending in NASCAR, etc will save $80 million. If you agree, please visit her Facebook page and "like" this or chime in with your own version / opinion...

    "Simply prohibiting it to be spent on sporting events implies that it would be OK to spend it elsewhere - not really "saving" anything.

    I am happy to see members of the government looking to cut spending however I am concerned to see ammendments being introduced that have the ability to "prohibit" advertising avenues for our military. I advocate that the government allocate the appropriate advertising / recruiting budget for the Pentagon and then let the accountable members of the Pentagon use those funds in the most effective method possible. If the most effective method to recuit is to target key demographics that follow these types of sporting events vs newspaper ads, phone calls, high school visits, etc then so be it.

    If you are looking to "save $80 million" out of the Pentagon advertising budget as you mention in your post above then take $80 million out of the approved budget and let them spend the remaining dollars where they get the biggest bang for the buck - please don't legislate it."

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  8. Why do they insist on going after small beans. In the grand scheme of things this is a miniscule amount of money that is actually doing something useful for the military. It's creating jobs, not only through recruitment in to the military but also for those teams that are represented by the sponsorships.

    Things like this are easier to go after because it requires so little thought. She doesn't want to think about the hard stuff so she goes after the no-brainer stuff.

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  9. I put a message on her wall. got several "likes" within a few minutes..lol

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  10. Anonymous10:05 PM

    I wonder if she would be willing to sponsor a bill that eradicates all the unnecessary spending us tax payers do that benefits her personal life, such as her health benefits, the car she is driven around in, and the fuel that goes in it. This woman is just attacking something that she doesn't understand. SHe wants to help the budget, get rid of all those things we taxpayers pay for that the Senators and Rep's get from us.

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  11. A lot of people who own sports teams are making a lot of money? Congresswoman, I would like to introduce you to Mr. Joe Nemecheck. This is my good friend Rusty Wallace. Over here we have Mr. Tommy Baldwin... Has the Congresswoman ever heard the old saying about how to make a small fortune in NASCAR? Yes. There are owners in this sport making a lot of money. They also happen to be the ones spending a lot of money. How bout all the money they are spending in payroll, payroll taxes, property taxes, etc. How much money are the owners, making a lot of money, spending in their communities? How much is being spent by the people employed by those making a lot of money, in their communities? This woman is obviously short sighted, and grasping for a hot button for the election year. I would like to know what percentage of our troops would like to continue funding. We give them so little in return for their sacrifices. If for nothing more than the sake of morale, let's do something for them. Let them see their branch out there. Let's see those armed forces cars on the track. It's my tax money too. I would much rather have my share of taxes go to putting money into NASCAR than to see it go to a Politician's family vacation, or private jet ride home on the weekends, in a jet my dollars are going to, but I don't benefit from. Gotta love those "servants". Always looking out for our best interest. On this topic... Disgruntled.

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  12. why didnt she cancel her trip to yemen, like any american cares what goes on there, talk about wasting tax payer dollars

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  13. Anonymous8:37 AM

    Michele Bachman, Betty McCollum, both elected to House Of Representatives.
    Minnesota, is that the best you can offer to our country?

    Robert Y
    Cincinnati

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  14. I think Mada1225 & WhatAmIMissingHere? hit the nail on the head. What about all the service members who are honored on race day? Given special well deserved treatment on raceday? Pulling all the racing sponserships will surly effect funding for this special treatment. I don't know about you but if being at the race track and seeing all the soldiers walking by on the front row in uniform sure does make me proud. I'm sure it makes those soldiers proud to. Lord knows they don't get enough credit for what they do. Maybe this senator should bring her Minnesota perspective to a Nascar race so she can get a glimpse of the proud American perspective!

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  15. Anonymous10:54 AM

    Thanks for posting, Dave. Unreal. As someone who calls Minnesota home, I'm utterly embearassed by this.

    Not only does she have little to no sense of the truly unique connection between NASCAR and the men and women of the Armed Forces, but she also must have skipped class on the days that dealt with things like basic marketing, what a marketing budget is and why enterprises (including the Armed Forces) need to market themselves through the correct channels in order to increase their reach, and ultimately grow their 'share of voice'.

    Her rhetoric is obsurd... making it somehow sound like the Armed Forces somehow do not need to have a marketing budget to help them showcase their organizations and reach more people - recruit more people - to ultimately make our country safer.

    I hope NASCAR Nation knows that her views do NOT represent those of everyone in Minnesota. There are a LOT of NASCAR Fans in Minnesota - and there are many large Minnesota-based companies that support various aspects of the sport & teams in a big way just about every day (Best Buy, 3M, Fastenal, General Mills, Polaris, Arctic Cat, Jostens, etc...)

    Very embearassing for Minnesota (not only the people, but for some of our biggest companies and employers). I hope the legislation is defeated and hope she is defeated next time Minnesotans go to the polls.

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  16. I totally agree with the congress woman except she did not go far enough - none of my tax money should go to any private sports.

    Also I don't want my taxes being used for flyover expenses, flag presentations etc. It's wasteful and unnecessary.

    NASCAR is not a recruting event its a sporting event.

    Also, I know Military get into tracks for free or get discounts and get special privledges at the races. Do my ticket prices then subsidize their tickets and freebies? So as a tax payer I pay for their salaries, benefits, and their race tickets? And that's fair?

    Jay in California

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    1. You bet it's fair, Jay. These people DIE for you and me. A free ticket to the race seems like a fairly small "thank you."

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    2. I agree Jay very well put

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  17. Anonymous9:14 AM

    PLEASE CONTACT YOUR LOCAL CONGRESS PERSON, AND ASK THAT THEY VOTE AGAINST THIS !

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  18. I would like to know what the real numbers are for recruiting. Everybody agrees that we need to cut out crazy government spending but no one wants their personal interest messed with. Our service people but there lives on the line for our freedom but we cant sacrifice some of our personal interest to get a 15 trillion dollar defecit under control. I love racing but there are other items much more important.

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  19. Anonymous1:24 AM

    SO,SO,SO STUPID THIS IS!!!PLEASE,DOES SHE KNOW HOW MUCH NASCAR DRIVERS DO FOR OUR TROOPS AND THEIR FAMILIES!!! NO,SHE'S TO BUSY SPENDING OUR TAXS DOLLARS FLYING TO OTHER COUNTRIES THAT HATE US!! SHE NEEDS TO SHUT UP,LEAVE THIS SPORT ALONE,THIS SPORT IS ONE OF OUR WE THE PEOPLE WANT HERE.IT'S AMERICAN AS MOM'S APPLE PIE!!! THEY FLY MORE OF OLD GLORY THAN THE FLIPPIN WHITE HOUSE DOES!!! I'M SO ANGRY RIGHT NOW.ALL THE STUPID THINGS OBAMA HAS SAID ABOUT OUT TROOPS,HE SHOULD HANG HIS HEAD DOWN WITH SHAME!!!!

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