Monday, August 2, 2010

Phillips: Hinchey’s Federal Park Proposal Will Do Harm

I just submitted this piece to Mike Marnell's Lincoln Eagle.

Kingston, August 2. In a press conference held on the courthouse steps on Wall Street, congressional candidate George Phillips outlined problems with incumbent Congressman Maurice Hinchey’s federal park proposal for the Hudson Valley. “Turning the Hudson Valley into a federal park would cause further economic decline here,” Phillips said. Phillips noted that the region’s economy is suffering and that the additional regulation and bureaucracy that the United States Parks Service would impose would cost even more jobs than have been lost during Mr. Hinchey’s tenure in office since 1992. Since then, employment in Ulster County has grown at one fifth of the national rate. Perhaps the best part of the economic picture in Ulster County is the inaccurate one that the Democratic media has painted concerning the “pork” that Mr. Hinchey has won. Although Hinchey has obtained pork, he has harmed the economy more generally, with a net economic loss to the region because of his incumbency. “Saying that Mr. Hinchey has been helpful to the economy here when employment growth in Ulster County has been a small fraction of the national average is silly,” Phillips noted in an extended interview at Dunkin’ Donuts after his press conference.

Even the Democratic Party media’s misleading depiction of the effects of Mr. Hinchey’s activities has been faltering. Phillips pointed out that on July 4 the New York Times reported on ethical malfeasance on Hinchey’s part. To avoid a congressional ban on earmarks to for-profit firms, Mr. Hinchey and his associates set up a shell corporation called the Solar Energy Consortium that received $30 million and is now improperly funneling the money to for-profit firms.

“But don’t believe for a minute that despite Mr. Hinchey’s ethical problems there is enough pork to undo the damage that he has done to the local economy,” Phillips noted. The county’s economy has declined since Mr. Hinchey assumed office in the early 1990s. The reason is a set of environmental regulations that Mr. Hinchey advocated called the “greenway.” Mr. Hinchey supports limiting economic growth in Ulster County, except for grants to his political supporters, and the outcome has been slower employment growth than elsewhere in the country. Now that the banking crisis has further limited growth, population is likely to exit the region. “Only wealthy summer residents from New York City can afford to live here because of Mr. Hinchey’s incumbency,” congressional candidate Phillips observed.

Mr. Phillips adds that almost every single pork project that Mr. Hinchey has obtained has involved “money being put into the Congressman’s own pockets or those of his cronies and donors.” Moreover, “Pork cannot compensate for the economically depressing regulation and high taxes that Mr. Hinchey has consistently supported.”

Phillips offers an alternative vision for the region: “less government, lower taxes and a new focus on ethics.”

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