Updated below: 9/29/08 5:00 pm
Over the last year, Matthew Faraci has served as the MSHA spokesman, providing official statements, for example, about the Crandall Canyon investigation, touting the Agency’s progress implementing the MINER Act, and defending the Administration’s request for an additional $19 million for MSHA. In fact, Faraci even organized a media briefing so that agency officials could explain why the requested budget increase “would provide MSHA with the vital resources it needs to help protect miners’ safety and health.”
So, it was a bit jarring to find the young Mr. Faraci himself on YouTube, gushing all about John McCain and how McCain is going to cut government spending.
“..There’s a lot of waste. People’s tax dollars being thrown out the window and that bothers me, and it’s always bothered me, and John McCain is one of the few people who’s been consistent on that issue. He’s always talked about that issue and I think he’ll actually do something about it.”
Hmmm….does this mean that the MSHA spokesperson doesn’t really think that the Labor Department should have asked for the 6% increase in MSHA’s budget?
Did the political operatives at DOL only ask for the increase because it was politically necessary, not because they see the value in mandatory inspections and new regulations to protect our nation’s miners? It seems that after the mining disasters in 2006 and 2007 revealed serious gaps in our regulatory and enforcement systems, the budget increase was warranted.
When he applauds McCain for insisting he will cut government spending, does that mean that Mr. Faraci supports a slash in MSHA’s budget? When Faraci said “MSHA has worked at an unprecedented pace to implement the MINER Act,” does he think that has been a waste of taxpayers’ money?
If you don’t want to go to YouTube and watch MSHA’s Faraci yourself, here’s the full text of his statement:
Hi, I am Matthew Faraci and I’m here supporting John McCain because, more than anything else I guess, my favorite thing about John McCain is that he wants to cut spending and keep government spending under control. There’s a lot of waste. People’s tax dollars being thrown out the window and that bothers me and it’s always bothered me and John McCain is one of the few people who’s been consistent on that issue. He’s always talked about that issue and I think he’ll actually do something about it, and Tom Coburn, he’ll hold his feet to the fire as he said, and that’s why, one of the reasons, that I am proudly supporting John McCain.
You know, I’m really sick of political candidates of all stripes, and their lackeys railing about government spending and how they are going to cut federal programs, but they never have the balls to say exactly what programs they want to ditch. The fact is, the biggest category of discretionary spending is defense, which accounts for 20.5% of the total 2008 outlay by the federal government.* The U.S spends more on defense than the rest of the world’s nations combined. Yet, few current politicians are willing to commit to slashing our defense budget. We’ve spent $60 BILLION alone on a missile defense program that our Joint Chiefs of Staff don’t even want! Talk about throwing taxpayers’ money out the window.
Instead, political operatives seem to be always looking to score points as fiscal powerhouses by targeting very small, but valuable programs. These include programs like the Labor Department’s $10 million Susan Harwood grants (0.02% of missile defense spending) which provides modest size grants ($70K – $250K) to organizations providing safety training to workers, or the Dept of Education’s $3 million Thurgood Marshall Legal Opportunity Program (0.005% of missile defense spending), which help low-income or disadvantaged college students prepare for and complete law school. I think that the popular exercise of new Presidents of a “top-to-bottom review” of every program is a time-consuming waste of federal agency resources. It’s also a handy DIVERSION from the debate we should be having about our nation’s excessive defense budget. What kind of cost-benefit analysis has been done to demonstrate that our spending, which is more than twice that of ALL of the European nations’ combined, makes us twice as secure??
I digress. Back to Mr. Faraci. It’s a free country and he’s free to share his views. But I get a little irked at people who blather on about too much government spending and too many government programs, but they don’t seem to have any problem collecting their paychecks and their generous health insurance, retirement benefits and paid vacation, from the exact government spending that they rail against.
Hey, if you don’t like government spending and think its a waste of money, let somebody else have your job. I’m sure there are dozens of talented individuals who would love to have Mr. Faraci’s well-paying job, and who believe that a federal regulatory/enforcement program to protect mine workers from potential abuses of the market system is money well spent. Such money would also be well spent by returning MSHA’s public affairs office to its original public-service mission, managed and manned by ALL career federal employees, who understood the role of the press in a democracy, recognized the public’s right-to-know, and appreciated the press (large and small) as a means to get information to the public—the miners and their families that MSHA is being paid to serve.
Updated 9/29/08 5:00 pm. A number of TPH readers forwarded a link to a second YouTube video of Mr. Faraci, this one a rant about Senator Barack Obama, and taped at the RNC Convention in St. Paul, MN.
I also apologize for missing an even more nefarious part of the political spin on MSHA’s FY’09 budget. As reported in February 2008 by the Charleston Gazette’s Ken Ward, the proposed MSHA budget actually reflected a DECREASE in funding for coal mine enforcement. Senator Robert C. Byrd (D-WV) was outraged at the news:
“It is absolutely absurd that the President is attempting to cut MSHA’s budget while Congress is trying to help the agency back on its feet–absolutely absurd.”
Ken Ward examined the actual budget documents and noted a 6.5% decrease (about $10 million) for the coal mine safety part of MSHA’s program. He also reported some of the misleading ways that MSHA’s Richard Stickler and spokesman Matthew Faraci tried to spin the budget details.
“An MSHA slideshow indicated that Bush budget proposals for MSHA and increased every year since the President took office in 2001. But, when the budget proposals are adjusted for inflation and compared to actual spending levels enacted by Congress, Bush actually proposed cuts in the agency’s budget every year between 2002 and 2006, according to a House Labor Committee report.”
*Non-discretionay spending includes Social Security payments (mostly for retirees) which accounts for 21% of FY’08 outlays, and Medicare (for seniors) and Medicaid (for poor children, their mothers, and poor disabled) account for 20% of FY’08 outlays.