Hoyer's Big BRAC Lie - Southern Maryland Headline News

Hoyer's Big BRAC Lie

Commentary by Ron Miller

St. Mary's County can generally be counted on to deliver for the Republican Party at the top of the ticket, something it has done since 2000. Even the Democrats who get a majority of the votes in St. Mary's County, with one notable exception, are generally center-right, reflecting the character of the county and its people.

The notable exception, however, is Mechanicsville resident, U.S. Congressman and House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, who is moderate only in his own mind or in mainstream press reports whose authors have been bamboozled into positioning him as a contrast to the more liberal factions of his party.

The Americans for Democratic Action, the quintessential liberal advocacy group, has been ranking members of Congress since 1947 based on their adherence to liberal policies. Hoyer has a lifetime rating of around 88% and a 90% rating in the 2008 session, just like Maryland's U.S. Senator Barbara Mikulski, who no one has ever accused of being moderate. A typical moderate would have rankings in the 40th to 60th percentile. You do the math.

One of the ways in which Hoyer burnishes his faux moderate credentials is through his support of the Patuxent River Naval Air Station, the economic engine of St. Mary's County. Every time the Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) Commission convenes to decide closures and realignments of military bases, Hoyer frightens the people of St. Mary's County with tales of impending doom regarding the status of "Pax River" and, when the final report is issued without Pax River on the list, he stands at the podium to take in the community's praise for saving their beloved base once again. It's a great story - and the biggest crock in southern Maryland politics.

The BRAC process was introduced in 1989 to eliminate the influence of politics in base closure and realignment decisions. It was clear that as the Cold War came to an end, we had too many military installations and we needed to reduce our overall capacity to save operations and maintenance dollars and modify the force to fit changing mission profiles. The BRAC Commission accepts a list of recommendations from the Pentagon, visits bases targeted for closure or realignment and takes testimony from the affected communities. The commission can add or remove facilities from the list, and their final recommendation goes to the President who must approve or disapprove the list in its entirety. If he approves, the list goes to Congress which has 45 days to disapprove the list in its entirety. Without a resolution of disapproval, the BRAC Commission's recommendations are final.

I know people who understand and were directly involved in the BRAC process here in Maryland, and they are irritated that Hoyer postures himself as the savior of Pax River when the process doesn't allow for the kind of influence he claims to exert. They will tell you that Pax River is viable because it is militarily significant and retainable on its own merits. Essentially, Hoyer is taking credit for something that's already in the bag. It's like claiming a rescue after the hard work has already been done.

I have in my possession a study, "The Impact of Political Factors on Military Base Closures," by economics professors from Mercer University, George Mason University and Benoit College that concludes:

"Our main finding is that politics does not seem to have any significant effect on base closings."

The bottom line is that Steny Hoyer uses the Pax River scare as a smokescreen to keep the people of St. Mary's County dependent on him. That way, he can go about his merry way voting for the legalized murder of unborn children, to include partial-birth abortions, a $787 billion stimulus package that did nothing to keep Maryland from record unemployment, a cap-and-trade bill that will raise our already high energy costs even higher, and a health care bill that honest analysts predict won't cut costs or cover most of the uninsured but will add over $1 trillion to the record-breaking Obama deficits. That's a pretty high price to pay for believing a lie.

Here's hoping in 2010 that the good people of St. Mary's County and, to a lesser extent, Charles County because of the Naval Surface Warfare Center at Indian Head, will realize that Hoyer not only doesn't vote their values but he's taking them for a ride - or a cruise, to use a nautical term.

Ron Miller, of Huntingtown, is a conservative blogger and activist, former and future candidate for the Maryland Senate, and communications director for the Calvert County Republican Party. Ron is a regular contributor to RegularFolksUnited.com, RedCounty.com, and ProLifeUnity.com. You can also follow Ron on his website TeamRonMiller.com, as well as Twitter and Facebook.

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