Congressman Chabot leaving Cincinnatians voiceless in D.C.

Congressman Steve Chabot (R) campaigned on a promise of focusing on improving Cincinnati’s job climate and bringing jobs back to the region. An exclusive UrbanCincy analysis dives into representative Chabot’s Congressional record since rejoining the House of Representatives in 2010.

Since returning to Washington, D.C. in 2010 Congressman Chabot has sponsored 13 bills, nine of which received the support of co-sponsors. The majority of the bills sponsored by Congressman Chabot are rated by GovTrack as having very little chance of passage due to their polarizing nature. The four bills sponsored by Congressman Chabot that have no co-sponsor include his two largest legislative proposals to date – the Stop Wasting American Tax Dollars Act and the Section 8 Reform, Responsibility, and Accountability Act of 2012.

The Banks [LEFT] development and Smale Riverfront Park [RIGHT] received critical federal investment that paid for the construction of its parking garages and public infrastructure. Photographs by Randy Simes for UrbanCincy.

Stop Wasting American Tax Dollars Act:
House Bill 1345 was introduced on April 4, 2011 and has gone nowhere. The intent of the bill, according to the Library of Congress, was to “rescind any unobligated discretionary appropriations awarded to a state or locality by the federal government that are voluntarily returned to it.”

In a nutshell, Congressman Chabot’s proposal was an effort to accomplish want Republicans wanted to do with money refused by state’s like Ohio over the past several years. In particular, this would have allowed Ohio’s $400 million high-speed rail giveaway to go back to the federal government and be used to pay down the deficit.

The bill, however, would not have qualified for funds voluntarily returned by the Department of Defense or the Department of Homeland Security.

The intent of Congressman Chabot’s bill would have impacted the $53 billion high-speed rail program introduced by the Department of Transportation in 2009. For comparison, the Department of Defense and Department of Homeland Security had a combined 2012 budget of $599 billion, or approximately 1,030 percent greater than that of the entire high-speed rail program originally envisioned by the Obama administration.

Section 8 Reform, Responsibility, and Accountability Act of 2012:
Congressman Chabot’s controversial House Bill 4145 was introduced on March 6, 2012, and aimed to amend the United States Housing Act of 1937. According to the Library of Congress, the bill would have “prohibited Section 8 rental assistance, including tenant- and project-based assistance, from being provided to any family that includes a convicted felon or illegal alien.”

Furthermore, the bill would have placed a five-year limitation on Section 8 rental assistance, and would have prohibited any assistance for any family with family members 18 years of age or older who were not performing at least 20 hours of work activities per week.

A third substantive legislative effort was made by Congressman Chabot in the form of House Bill 6178, Economic Growth and Development Act. The bill received bi-partisan co-sponsors and has been referred to the House Committee on Foreign Affairs.

According to the Library of Congress, H.R. 6178 directs the President to establish an interagency mechanism to coordinate United States development programs and private sector investment activities, among other things.

The Brent Spence Bridge project will require millions of dollars of federal assistance to become reality.

Depending on what comes out of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, H.R. 6178 may turn out to be the only bill sponsored by Congressman Chabot that has any chance at creating jobs. Whether these jobs would impact Cincinnatians would be another matter.

Congressman Chabot has repeatedly scolded President Barack Obama (D) and Democratic members of Congress since being reelected in 2010 about not doing enough to spur the economy. According to his own record, however, Congressman Chabot has done nothing himself to improve economic conditions or create jobs for Cincinnatians.

“Our economy remains stagnant and unemployment is unacceptably high,” Congressman Chabot writes on his campaign website. ”This Administration has proliferated a hostile environmental that is sustaining that stagnation and high unemployment numbers…we must end the uncertainty small businesses face and start pushing common-sense policies to spur innovation, development and job creation.”

Based on Chabot’s own record, there is no telling what these “common-sense policies” might be, but we do know they will not come in the form of direct federal investment. That would be because Congressman Chabot’s staunch position on not accepting any federal earmarks places Cincinnati at a unique disadvantage to the rest of the country when it comes to receiving critical federal investment that immediately creates local jobs and energizes the local economy.

Such projects that have received such federal help over the past several years include infrastructure at The Banks, Smale Riverfront Park, Cincinnati Streetcar, Cincinnati-Northern Kentucky International Airport, Interstate 75, Waldvogel Viaduct, Ohio River Trail, and the Millcreek Greenway.

Of course, none of these projects were funded through any help of Congressman Chabot. And as representative Chabot panders to voters about redirecting funds from the Cincinnati Streetcar to the Brent Spence Bridge project, he himself has made no effort whatsoever to help win much-needed federal funding for the $3 billion project.

  • I’m wondering if he’ll shave his head if the BSB project is fully funded?

  • Don_Thompson

    Unfortunately this is true for most politicians, R or D in most regions of the country. Especially at the federal level. I don’t feel as if our government represents us or is looking out for our best interests. I think we as a people need to educate ourselves better and start voting better people into office. It seems as if the few good ones we do get get squeezed by the big players and the money influence to play ball or else. It sickens me to think of how great Cincinnati or this country could be if instead of spending $599 billion on bombs and weapons we spent it on projects like the BSB or streetcar or high speed rail. For the cost of a few missiles fired into the side of a mountain in Afghanistan we could have a complete streetcar that reaches uptown and beyond.

    • During the brief 2 years Steve Driehaus was in office, he pushed to get federal funding for the streetcar, the Banks garages, the Central Riverfront Park, 3C rail, and even the BSB. Even Republicans in Kentucky like the now retired Geoff Davis brought in funding for local projects in Northern Kentucky. Rep. Chabot has basically done nothing to bring jobs or economic development to any area of his congressional district since his return to office in 2010. As long as people don’t understand the system, they will never realize how much money we miss out on that goes to other regions of the country.

    • What sets Chabot apart from the rest is that he is one of the very few that is proud of not bringing any federal money back to his district. He’s taken that mindset even further recently by writing in anti-earmarks that would specifically prohibit federal legislation from providing funding for projects such as the Cincinnati Streetcar. It’s a real shame.

  • Matt

    What Chabot is reacting against is this ‘we gotta get ours’ mentality that pervades politics these days. What needs to happen is that the federal government needs to get out of the business of funding local projects and instead fund only projects of national importance (which would include the BSB). The cry that we need to get the tax money we pay back from Washington misses the point that Washington shouldn’t have it in the first place. It is not their job to collect and redistribute the wealth of the fifty states. If Washington spent less, and lowered our federal taxes, then perhaps state and local entities could raise their taxes and fund projects locally. What’s the difference? Local control as opposed to funding and dealing with the DC bureaucratic machine. Chabot puts his money where his mouth is, and I applaud that. It would be hypocritical to advocate for a smaller federal government while, at the same time, lining up to get your piece of the pie. Is our region hindered as a result? Perhaps. But if federal spending is not brought under control, we will all be hurting sooner or later.

    • The problem with that is that local governments have no means of funding $3 billion projects like the Brent Spence Bridge. Heck, local governments don’t even have the means to fund $100 million projects.

      They could, but it would require massive tax hikes at the local level of government all throughout the United States.

    • This is fine as an eventual, long-term goal. But in the shorter term,
      it’s a prisoner’s dilemma. Any one congressperson who declines to pursue
      earmarks for his or her district “punishes” (a loaded term, I know)
      said district relative to all others.

      To illustrate the point, imagine that it would be a great idea for a
      city to develop a particular project, say, a dam on a river that will
      cost $300 million. In order to pay for it, they’ll have to tax each
      resident of the city an additional $100 per year for the next 10 years.

      John Doe loves the project, and thinks it will be great for the city.
      (And suppose he’s absolutely right.) But no one else wants to pay the
      necessary taxes, and the measure gets defeated again and again at the
      ballot box and in city council. John Doe unilaterally mails an envelope
      full of $100 in cash to the city clerk, marked “for the dam,” each year
      for the next 10 years.

      Did he do the right thing? No, not really. Instead, he made no progress
      towards the construction of the dam, and in the process impoverished
      himself by $100 per year. If absolutely everyone in the city had done as
      John Doe did, the funding for the dam would’ve been complete. But
      that’s not the world in which John Doe lived.

      I would support earmark reform, but I don’t support earmark reform by
      Chabot’s means. He’s behaving like John Doe, above–achieving no part of
      his ultimate goal (reducing the net sum of earmarks distributed by
      Congress, since the funds refused to Cincinnati will be appropriated
      elsewhere), and harming his own interests (insofar as his district’s
      interests are his own interests).

      If earmark reform is going to happen, it probably won’t happen by 535
      individual, principled decisions. It will probably happen from a broad,
      independent agreement concerning earmarks. If that agreement concerning
      earmarks is a fantasy, fine. My only point has been to argue that in the
      mean time, individual, “principled” stands like Chabot’s don’t move us
      closer to that fantasy, and in fact they do damage to districts like

  • Zachary Schunn

    It’s always a shame when some politicians think they can “create jobs” by impoverishing the unemployed and forcing them to apply for work. Unlike what some believe, welfare isn’t extravagant enough to convince people not to get jobs by choice. No matter how hard 10 people try to find work, if there are only 4 jobs out there, 6 people are going to be left unemployed. Taking away their safety nets in the meantime only makes things worse. (I’m referring to Section 8 reform with these remarks, but similar policies have sparked my disgust.)

    The truth is that the unemployment rate is barely moving because budget cuts are leading to massive layoffs for govt. employees. And politicians like Chabot are only exacerbating the problem.

    Short-term, you can’t boost the economy without growth, either via public sector or private (by making more capital available). Long-term, the world economy is a closed-system whose growth is dependent upon population growth and increased efficiencies due to technology. The U.S. economy is specifically suffering now, I feel, because of a shrinking public sector, minimal investment in new technology, and a “spreading of the wealth” to the rest of the world.

    • You touch on a good point here. What many seem to think is that only private sector employment counts, but in reality a job is a job. Fire fighters, police officers, school teachers, and municipal employees all count. They’re all people, and each needs a paycheck.

      Obviously it would be great to have even more private sector growth, but government jobs are a required element of our society. That is unless we want to go down the path of no longer supporting public safety, education, or governmental operations in general.

  • Reminds me of the ideological Gov’s who refused Federal rail money. Just because you make a statement about Obama’s spending doesn’t mean the money isn’t just going to be spent elsewhere. Dumb

  • charles ross