WHO AMONG US DOESN’T LOVE TAXPAYER-FINANCED NASCAR ADS?…. With the House voting on several hundred amendments to its spending bill for the current fiscal year, there were plenty of odd votes late in the week. The vote to save millions of taxpayer dollars currently going to car-racing sponsorship is probably worth noting.
The House has voted to let the Pentagon continue using taxpayer dollars to sponsor NASCAR race teams.
By a 281-148 vote, lawmakers rejected an effort by Minnesota Democratic Rep. Betty McCollum that would have ended the practice. McCollum aides said the Army is spending $7 million on a sponsorship this year, and the Air Force and National Guard are spending additional money.
McCollum said the military spends the funds to place decals on race cars and for a few driver appearances. The armed forces hope the sponsorships will help them attract recruits.
Now, there’s no real evidence to suggest the multi-million-dollar decals have the intended effect. In fact, the Navy and Marine Corps used to pay for NASCAR decals, but dropped them when officials concluded they were of little value.
But the politics of this turned out to be pretty interesting. For one thing, McCollum received threats of violence for trying to save the public funds.
As for the GOP, to hear House Republicans tell it, “we’re broke,” which means it’s time to take a buzz-saw to the budget. In this very bill, the GOP voted to slash education, job training, environmental protections, food safety, community health centers, nuclear security, energy efficiency programs, scientific research, FEMA, Planned Parenthood, the Securities and Exchange Commission, the Social Security Administration, and the Centers for Disease Control, among other things.
But when it came time to save taxpayers $7 million on a seemingly-pointless NASCAR ad, Republicans balked. In all, 30 GOP lawmakers broke ranks and voted with Democrats to save the money, but 209 Republicans voted to keep the NASCAR ad and kill McCollum’s amendment.
In other words, we’re broke, but leave NASCAR alone.
And Fox News, which also claims to love “austerity,” is thrilled.
David Frum’s summary rang true: “Government funding for NASCAR: Liberty. Government funding for NPR: Tyranny.”
Postscript: By the way, the phrase in the headline comes by way of the made-up John Kerry quote from 2004: “Who among us does not love NASCAR?” Kerry never said this, ever. Maureen Dowd made it up, and the media ran with it.