Melancon:?Earmarks aiding Louisiana’s recession avoidance

Wade McIntyre
U.S. Rep. Charles Melancon speaks Wednesday in Gonzales.

U.S. Rep. Charles Melancon defended his use of earmarks as a means of funding projects in his 3rd Congressional District during a meeting with The Weekly Citizen and at a town hall session in Gonzales Friday.

The Democrat from Napoleonville said he does not have problem with earmarks, and prefers to call them “district projects.”

Earmarks build turn lanes on Hwy. 42, levees in near Lafite, provide for coastal restoration by repairing marshes, and rebuild Hwy. 1 to Fourchon providing access to the port for industry access.

“They’re all earmarks,” Melancon said. “It’s your tax dollars and I’m bringing it back home to the tax payers.”

Without the $10 million per day coming in from the federal government for hurricane relief following Katrina and Gustav, Melancon said, “I fear we would be no better off than the rest of the country.”

Because of relief funding south Louisiana’s economy has so for been spared effects of the recession, headed by New Orleans and Houma, with the lowest unemployment rate in the nation.

Louisiana is like an island of security right now, and “We need to keep it afloat,” the congressman said. He characterized the state as “the tail wagging the dog,” with the rest of the nation watching Louisiana, fearful that it too will collapse.

He defended the Obama Administration Stimulus bill, saying the federal government was the only thing big enough to pull the state up after Rita and Katrina, and it is the only thing big enough to pull the country up in the recession.

Melancon touted The “Blue Dog” group of socially liberal, fiscally conservative congressmen to which he belongs as one of the mediating groups in Congress.

Normally the far left and far right sides of Congress do not talk to one another, leaving the Blue Dogs as the interpreters, he said. “We talk to one another and say let’s do something for America to make this thing work.”

Melancon said he breaks from administration policy when he sees talk of a tax hike on the fossil fuels industry when people are being laid off. The boats that supply the rigs in the Gulf of Mexico are stacked up on the bayous now the same as they were in the crippling recession of 1983 in Louisiana, he said.

“I’ve been accused of voting for Nancy Pelosi,” he said, gesturing at the town meeting crowd. “She votes for me. I vote for Charles Melancon.”

The congressman warned the crowd that the $10 trillion plus budget bill passed by Congress harbors another $5 trillion plus in what he called “off-budget” spending.

“The deficit has been growing for about eight years without you knowing it,” he said.

As for a national turnaround in the economy, Melancon said speculation that a turnaround might occur by the end of the year due to the stimulus may or may not be accurate.

“I don’t know,” he said. “I hope it will.”