Have the Obama Administration and Congressional Democrats dipped to a new level to secure votes for their government takeover of health care-trying to use water as a political weapon to secure two votes for their bill?
Background: For years, California has experienced an artificial water shortage due to environmental lawsuits and liberals in Washington, DC, fundamentally changing the operation of water projects by diverting large amounts of fresh water. The result has been a government-imposed drought that has cost jobs and harmed agriculture.
Curiously Timed Announcement: On March 17, 2010, the Department of Interior (DOI) announced that they were allowing new water supplies to flow through the Central Valley Project in California. The news was not scheduled to be released for at least two weeks, but DOI explained that the early announcement came at the behest of two particular House Democrats:
"Typically, Reclamation would release the March allocation update around March 22nd, but moved up the announcement at the urging of Senators Feinstein and Boxer, and Congressmen Costa and Cardoza."
The timing of the announcement is suspicious because Reps. Jim Costa (D-CA) and Dennis Cardoza (D-CA) are reportedly undecided Democrat swing votes on the government takeover of health care. They also happen to represent districts that have large agricultural interests which have been decimated by three years of regulatory drought in the region, which has had devastating economic effects. The Obama Administration and Congressional Democrats have turned a blind eye to the region's agony and staggering unemployment.
Water for Votes: Could this announcement be the political favor that these Congressmen need to seal their vote for the bill? Rep. Costa has already warmed up to the bill in public since the DOI announcement was made, saying of the bill's CBO cost estimate, "It's a good score," and saying of new discussions between him and President Obama's health care team, "I'm going to listen to them." It seems only fair that Costa listen to President Obama, because the President obviously listened to him on March 13, 2010, when Costa told reporters, "he used some of his time with President Barack Obama to urge more consideration for the Valley's water and employment needs. Obama said he understood." The President seems to have understood very well and acted in a timely manner.
For his part, Rep. Cardoza recently released a statement asserting that he was still undecided on the bill, saying "This evening I and my staff have been going through the bill to determine all of the details and how the legislation will affect my constituents." As Secretary of Interior, former Democrat Senator from Colorado, Ken Salazar said, "This is good news for the large majority of water users served by the Central Valley Project." Perhaps when a vote on the final passage of the Democrats' health care takeover occurs, Democrat leadership and the President will get the "good news" they've be looking for from Costa and Cardoza.
Shameful Double Standard: The San Joaquin Valley is home to numerous farm communities that are suffering from high levels of unemployment because they have been blocked from accessing water for a number of reasons, including the protection of a three inch smelt fish. Rep. Devin Nunes (R-CA) has long drawn attention to the water shortages in the region. He introduced H.R. 3105, the Turn on the Pumps Act, which would restore the flow of water in California by waiving the Endangered Species Act (ESA) provisions responsible for the Delta pumping restrictions. This bill would help the people of the San Joaquin Valley, as well as Southern California residents, and is virtually identical to legislation that passed Congress without controversy in 2003. Unfortunately, Democrats would rather use the water shortage as a political weapon, threatening the livelihoods of Americans to get votes for their health care takeover.
If Reps. Cardoza (D-CA) and Costa (D-CA) negotiated their coveted health care votes in exchange for a small increase in water, couldn't they have at least secured all of the water Central Valley residents deserve and need?
Is only 25 percent of contracted water for a year in California in exchange for a nationwide 100 percent government takeover of health care really a good deal for their constituents?