Oklahoma Republican Targets UVM $$$ | Freyne Land

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Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Oklahoma Republican Targets UVM $$$

Posted By on Wed, Mar 28, 2007 at 1:43 PM

He said what?

Hey, that's Oklahoma Republican United States Senator Tom Coburn, M.D. on C-SPAN late Wednesday morning and he's got an amendment to the "Emergency" supplemental $100 billion-plus spending bill that's supposed to fund the Iraq and Afghanistan Wars and more, including a little "pork."

Only Sen. Coburn's amendment is designed to remove a certain porky "earmark" attached to the spending bill currently on the floor by an unnamed senator that would send $2 million of U.S. taxpayers money to the University of Vermont to establish an academic chair in education quality named for former U.S. Rep. and Sen. Jim Jeffords of Vermont.

Coburn, the Oklahoma physician-turned-politician (like Ho-Ho?), called the Vermont earmark:

"An earmark for which we don’t have the money. We’re not going to be able to pay for it...

"It's another $2 million to a university that’s already gotten $400 million of taxpayers' money (since 2000). I don’t think there’s any question in the average American’s mind in regards to that.

"Let me just read what the University of Vermont has gotten:

2000 - $54 million

2001 - $60 million

2002 - $69 million

2003 - $76 million

2004 - $70 million

2005 - $68 million

"There’s a lot of money that’s already gone up there. A lot of it borrowed. At the present time the University of Vermont has an endowment of $282,594,000.

"Now, interest on that at 6 percent gives you about, close to $15 million-a-year, just the interest off that endowment.

"I believe they’ve got plenty of money to fund this chair to honor Senator Jeffords.

"The endowment grew 16 percent last year. It’s growth last year was 20-times the amount of this earmark.

"Certainly not an 'emergency.'"

Coburn's got a point, eh?

“When we queried the University of Vermont about this earmark, we asked what were the estimated costs of the project longterm?

“They couldn’t give us an answer.

“Who was going to finance it after the program was established?

“They couldn’t give us an answer.

“How will the federal funding be expended?

“They couldn’t tell us that.

“Did the university request the funding?

“We don’t know the answer to that either. None of these questions have been answered by the University of Vermont."

Plus, $400 million to UVM since 2000?

How come no football team?

Just heard via email (1 p.m.), from U.S. Sen. Patrick Leahy's veteran Press Secretary David Carle.

Yes, the $2 million for the Jeffords Institute is a Leahy earmark.

AND it looks like Coburn's won the day.

"At this moment," Carle informs us,  "there’s still hope of finishing the overall bill this week – which includes the earmarks - for withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq.

"To raise the chances of that being possible there are efforts by the leadership to thin the remaining issues that have to be debated and voted on, and to further that process," writes Mr. Carle, "Senator Leahy this afternoon has agreed to the leadership’s request that the Coburn amendment be accepted by voice vote, and he plans on resuming the effort [to get the money for UVM's Jeffords Institute] in the FY08 appropriations bills."

How's that song go?

"You've got to know when to hold 'em,
know when to fold 'em,
know when to walk away,
and know when to run.....

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About The Author

Peter Freyne

Peter Freyne

Bio:
Peter Freyne, 1949-2009, wrote the weekly political column "Inside Track," which originated in the Vanguard Press in the mid 1980s; he brought it to Seven Days in 1995. He retired it shortly before his death in January, 2009. We all miss him.

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