Democratic legislative leaders used animal analogies in a news conference Wednesday while asserting they still be a force to reckon with during rule of the new Republican “super majorities.” From Chas Sisk: “A grizzly bear can take a porcupine out anytime he wants to, but usually he goes around it,” said Rep. Mike Turner, D-Old Hickory, the House Democratic Caucus chairman. “We’re not just going to sit there and roll over, and when something needs to be done for the people of Tennessee, we’re going defend those values and we’re going to defend our position.”
“I like wolverine better than porcupine,” Democratic Leader Craig Fitzhugh, D-Ripley, interjected.
“Well, now honey badger is kind of popular too,” Turner replied.
U.S. Rep. Scott DesJarlais , participating in a congressional Republican gimmick wherein citizens are invited to choose among suggested federal budget cuts, had drawn some attention by putting the U.S. Forestry Service program that includes Smokey the Bear on a list of three proposed cuts. (A prior post HERE),
According to the “Youcut” leader, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, the Smokey cut didn’t make the cut for recommended slashing. Cantors post on the winning cut – incentive payments for states signing up food stamp recipients – is posted on Cantor’s website. DesJarlais’ website has a link to Cantor’s post…. But no other comment. (DesJarlais is given credit on the Cantor website.)
Presumably, this means that Smokey is safe (as observed by Chas Sisk)…. At least for now.
News release from Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee:
Despite wildfires in Tennessee that have already burned more than 9,000 acres this year and a 2010 fire that burned nearly 1,000 acres in his own district, Congressman Scott DesJarlais (TN-04) wants to eliminate the Smokey Bear campaign, which could force the government to spend more money fighting fires as the number of human-caused forest fires increase.
“It takes a special kind of politician to attack Smokey Bear,” said Adam Hodge of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee. “Instead of asking billionaires to pay a little bit more or oil companies to give up their subsidies, Congressman DesJarlais wants to eliminate a program that helps reduce the number of forest fires in Tennessee. There are better ways to reduce the deficit than by following Congressman DesJarlais’ extreme ideology and attacking Smokey Bear.” Background
DesJarlais’ Proposal to Eliminate Smokey the Bear Could Actually Increase Federal Spending to Fight Fires. “Representative Scott DesJarlais wants to eliminate funding for the U.S. Forest Service (USFS)’s conservation education program, a leader in Smokey Bear’s iconic, decades-long campaign to prevent wildfires […] The proposal would likely increase spending to combat wildfires and would hurt communities that rely on the public’s understanding of the value of forest products and ecosystem services […] In 2010, 36,108 human-caused wildfires burned in the southern region of the United States, an area represented in part by Rep. DesJarlais. Seeing as firefighting costs the government about $700 per acre, federal spending would be higher without Smokey Bear’s powerful message.” [Forest Foundation, 12/2/11]
Fire Season Often Brings Devastating Effects to East Tennessee. “November may only be just over a week old, but already the area has been plagued by two small brush fires, warning shots in what Division of Forestry officials hope won’t become a constant salve this fall fire season. That has Forestry officials making a concerted effort to warn local residents about the potential dangers of the stretch from Oct. 15 to Dec. 15 that often brings devastating conflagrations to East Tennessee […] [The] chemistry of risk factors sent Forestry employees scrambling to more than 1,300 blazes that claimed nearly 16,500 acres last year.” [Mountain Press, 11/9/2011]
DesJarlais Voted Against a Bipartisan Fully Offset Amendment to Restore Funding to Firefighters. “Under H.R. 1 — House legislation to continue funding the federal government – the Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response (SAFER) grant program would have been completely eliminated, and the Assistance to Firefighters (FIRE Act) grants would have been cut by more than 20 percent. Recognizing the threat to fire fighter safety, Representative Bill Pascrell (D-NJ) offered an amendment to restore funding for the two programs. The amendment passed February 16 with a large bipartisan majority.” [International Association of Fire Fighters Press Release, 2/16/11; Pascrell of New Jersey Amendment #223 to H.R. 1, Vote #60, 2/16/11]
Fires Hit Campbell County Last Year. “Two wildfires in Campbell County consumed 700 acres, half of the reported acreage burned Tuesday across East Tennessee. Eighteen fires burning 1,400 acres were reported as weather conditions continue to be dry with high winds elevating the danger.” [Knoxville News, 4/7/10]
Over 825 Wildfires Have Been Recorded Since January in Tennessee. “Since January, state Forestry Division officials have recorded 825 wildfires in Tennessee that burned more than 9,000 acres of forestland.” According to the Tennessee Department of Agriculture, the Department utilized Smokey Bear to help their fire prevention program. [State of Tennessee Press Release, 9/2/11; Tennessee Department of Agriculture, accessed 12/5/11]
DesJarlais Said Millionaires and Billionaires Already Pay the Lion’s Share of Taxes. In September 2011, DesJarlais said that the millionaires and billionaires already pay enough taxes. “Shouldering the burden on the job creators — the people he refers to as millionaires and billionaires — they’re already paying the lion’s share of taxes, and taxing them more is going to hurt jobs, not help create them.” [WBIR, 9/8/11]
Previous post HERE.
From an American Forest Foundation news release : Representative Scott DesJarlais (R-TN) wants to eliminate funding for the U.S. Forest Service (USFS)’s conservation education program, a leader in Smokey Bear’s iconic, decades-long campaign to prevent wildfires.
Smokey Bear is one of the most recognizable figures in the United States, ranking alongside of Mickey Mouse and Santa Claus. In fact, 3 out of 4 adults are able to recall Smokey’s message of “Only You Can Prevent Wildfires” without prompting.
Rep. DesJarlais proposed the drastic reductions in YouCut, an online voting program that features issues each week that members of the House of Representatives think should be eliminated from the federal budget. These proposed cuts would not reduce federal spending. To the contrary, the proposal would likely increase spending to combat wildfires and would hurt communities that rely on the public’s understanding of the value of forest products and ecosystem services.
Now is not the time to slash resources to an education program that includes hazard assessment planning and wildfire preparedness. In 2010, 36,108 human-caused wildfires burned in the southern region of the United States, an area represented in part by Rep. DesJarlais. Seeing as firefighting costs the government about $700 per acre, federal spending would be higher without Smokey Bear’s powerful message.
Desjarlais recently issued a news release on his participation in Youcut, a House Republican effort wherein citiizens are invited to pick which federal programs should be cut from the budget. The DesJarlais release lists chopping the “environmental literacy” programs as one of three cuts for people to choose from.
From the release: While students may benefit from some of the outdoors activities these programs provide, using taxpayer dollars to generate issue-oriented advocacy among school children and college students is inappropriate.