Reid's cowboy poetry event stirs budget angst
March 9th, 2011
07:35 AM ET
7 years ago

Reid's cowboy poetry event stirs budget angst

Washington (CNN) - Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid took to the Senate floor on Tuesday to decry what he called a "mean-spirited" Republican plan to drastically cut government spending, arguing the bill would eliminate important programs such as job training, health clinics and ... an annual cowboy poetry festival in his home state of Nevada.

"These programs create jobs," Reid said. "The National Endowment of the Humanities is the reason we have in northern Nevada every January a cowboy poetry festival. Had that program not been around, the tens of thousands of people who come there every year would not exist."

Reid went on to say that the GOP plan to cut $61 billion in government spending is "reckless" and "irresponsible," but in choosing to highlight an obscure art festival, Reid provided easy political fodder for Republicans, who are accusing their Democratic counterparts of failing to propose "realistic ways to tighten our belts," as Sen. Jim DeMint, R-South Carolina, put it in his own Senate floor speech shortly after Reid.

"It's amazing that the Democratic leader has called Republicans 'mean-spirited' because they're proposing to cut funding for a cowboy poetry festival," DeMint said. "A cowboy poetry festival. Now, I love poetry and cowboys as much as anyone else, but we're looking at bankrupting our nation, destroying the future that was given to us by our predecessors. And we can't even get close to a realistic debate on how we can stop this rampage towards bankruptcy in America?"

The Senate was expected to hold a vote on the GOP plan - as well as on a countermeasure put forth by Democrats - on Tuesday, but Senate leaders announced late in the day that the votes will now take place Wednesday afternoon.

The Republican plan has already passed in the GOP-led House, but both parties have struggled to gain enough support in the Senate for either budget proposal to move forward.

Filed under: Harry Reid • Senate
soundoff (31 Responses)
  1. Andy

    It is mean spirited, aimed at minorities, people who chose public transportation, the poor, needey, and people who actually need help. There are thousands of programs that work, and tens of thousands of people who make those programs work, you really want to put a few million more people out of work? Please Harry et al, block this ridiculous farce by extreme right wing racist people to put a land mine in the road of our nation's progress.

    – A

    March 9, 2011 07:49 am at 7:49 am |
  2. Clwyd

    Republicans have a mean spirit and worse, except for their own which are the rich, corporations, big oil, big Wall Street and big Insurance.

    March 9, 2011 07:52 am at 7:52 am |
  3. Dale

    Harry Reid is sure taking the Budget crisis seriously but we have to protect the Cowboy Poetry Festival above all else to save the jobs it creates. He makes as much sense as Charlie Sheen and Nevada should be ashamed they re-elected such a bufoon.

    March 9, 2011 07:59 am at 7:59 am |
  4. Frank

    Do you see the point now? Everyone has their little spending projects they love. It is an extremely hard job to make cuts that everyone in this country is going to like. We need to start cutting and not stopping until the budget is balanced and the debt is zero. Yes, it is going to be difficult. Yes, many people are going to scream. Unions are going to protest and continue name calling. BUT it must be done. It will take courage. It will take leadership. Sadly, we don't have a lot of this in Washington or at the State level. The President's budget for 2012 is a joke. Come on! Put your pants on and get to work.

    March 9, 2011 08:07 am at 8:07 am |
  5. Dominican mama 4 Obama

    You know Harry, I wanted you to win in Nevada NOT because I thought you had your priorities straight, but because tht lunatic Sharron Angle could not be allowed to get much further politically. The woman is certifiably nuts. But this kind of b.s. insertion about your little cowboy poetry circle in the midst of a possible government shut-down, and with your state's unemployment hovering at 14% is really hard to swallow.
    Is this your LAST term in office? Because you're acting like you couldn't give two $hits about how you sound to the rest of America.
    Freaking cowboy poetry!!! Pull yourself together man!!!!

    March 9, 2011 08:11 am at 8:11 am |
  6. Tony in Maine

    I agree with Reid that the cuts demanded by the Tea Party – er Republicans – are mean spirited and quite unnecessary if the patrons of the right wing were asked to pay their share of the dues we owe for living in the US. Of course, they aren't, and the Bush Wars are still be used to transfer the wealth of our country from the taxpayers who do to Halliburton et al.

    BTW Harry, I'm betting the tens of thousands of poets and poetry lovers would still exist, but probably not gather in Nevada as they do now.

    DeMint is irrelevant and should be ignored.

    March 9, 2011 08:23 am at 8:23 am |
  7. Phil

    Somehow I believe the Cowboys will show up even without Federal Aid.

    March 9, 2011 08:24 am at 8:24 am |
  8. Chad from Tampa

    How did this guy get re-elected?? Oh yeah, the unions.......

    March 9, 2011 08:26 am at 8:26 am |
  9. The Real Tom Paine

    "....destroying the future that was given to us by our predecessors." What kind of babble is is that? The future is not given to you, it unfolds due to the choices we make. If Mr. DeMint truly belives that, then why did he push for the tax cuts? Does the debt incurred by massive tax cuts ensure that the Koch brothers see their vision of America, one ruled by a self-appointed plutocracy where there are no consequences, no rules, no recourse for the average person? Does Mr. DeMint really see this festival as a threat to the financial stability of the governemnt and the country, or does he just want more dollars to flow back to SC to ensure it remains at or near the bottom in everything that matters? A realistic debate on reducing the debt does not involve cutting funding for poetry festivals, but in reforming the tax code and closing the loopholes that allow billionaires and their multinationals to declare themselves small businesses or individuals. It involves cutting defense and entitlements. Demint won't do that, since a huge amount of defense spending goes to prop up his state, but he will go after the NEA and NPR, since thats an easy taget for his Flat-Earth followers.

    March 9, 2011 08:48 am at 8:48 am |
  10. JJ

    Where are the jobs???? Why am I paying ove $4 a gallon for gas???? GET TO WORK YOU MORONS!!!!!!!!!!!!

    March 9, 2011 08:49 am at 8:49 am |
  11. Bill

    A cowboy poetry festival? And this is the LEADER of the Senate who should be figuring out how to reduce the deficit? No wonder we are so screwed up.

    March 9, 2011 08:52 am at 8:52 am |
  12. NameJean Zeller

    How sad that the people in charge are content to spend their time vilifying and mocking his comments simply because he chose to highlight a program that is very important to the economy of Nevada. Cowboy Poetry may sound like an easy mark for ridicule. In reality, it is an endeavor that has brought employment opportunities, boosted the economy of a small town in Nevada, and brought thousand of tourists AND THEIR MONEY to Elko, Nevada. Politics as usual. How sad.

    March 9, 2011 09:01 am at 9:01 am |
  13. Bill

    "...the tens of thousands of people who come there every year would not exist."? The people would not exist? Wow! Those Republicans must be really mean spirited if they can wipe the existence of those people off the face of the earth. LOL. Or maybe I should quit my job if the government is willing to pay me to write poetry too? That is a good use of my tax dollars. LOL

    March 9, 2011 09:04 am at 9:04 am |
  14. mitchscove

    Funny. After embezzling $105B in taxpayer money by scattering mandatory spending throughout ObamaCare, he's worried about the Cowboy Poetry Festival. Reid's statements are more cynical than Obama's $10B in proposed budget cuts. I certainly hope the House reconsiders their meager budget cuts - adding the $105B in waste to the list.

    March 9, 2011 09:29 am at 9:29 am |
  15. gerblat

    The budget is over four trillion dollars and we are not agreeing upon 61 billion dollars in cuts. Let's see, one thousand billion in a trillion...61 billion is 0.61 % of one quarter of spending?
    The Republicans suggestion isn't even enough to make more then a token gesture towards correcting this bloated, run away spending spree.
    With all due respect for Senator Reid, I think pet projects are in the "Nice to have" category. We need to focus on the "Have to haves" to save this country from the pending spending hangover all this Hope and Change has cost the people. They do after all, work for We the People, not they the Lobbyists or "Special Interests(Cowboy Poetry is certainly "Special") .It's come time to address the reality the total lack of fiscal responsibility has its repercussions.

    March 9, 2011 09:31 am at 9:31 am |
  16. susan

    Has this man completely lost his mind? I'm a Dem but this is insane. We are talking of spending cuts, and apparently he just doesn't get it.

    March 9, 2011 09:32 am at 9:32 am |
  17. S.B. Stein E.B. NJ

    This is a small example of what a member of Congress can do for his or her state/ community. The problem with this is that there was no dollar amount listed. The real problems are that many sectors of government can't fully account for the money that they get and spend like the Pentagon. The other problem is there are far too many outside organizations that do work for the government that is shotty and get paid when they don't deliver on time and in full or just skip paying their taxes and other violations (workplace safety rules among others).

    March 9, 2011 09:37 am at 9:37 am |
  18. BostonDan

    Well, I guess Harry doesn't see anything that the federal government shouldn't fund. "Cowboy Poetry Festival"? Yep, that's worth forcing everyone in the country to pay for. If it is so good, wouldn't it pay for itself?

    March 9, 2011 09:52 am at 9:52 am |
  19. Henry Miller, Libertarian

    So trying to save the country from bankruptcy is "mean-spirited."

    Only a Democrat could think that.

    And what's "reckless" and "irresponsible" is failing to cut ten times that $61 billion. We're broke. We're in such a deep pile of debt we won't be able to pay it off for decades,>/i> and every dollar of interest paid on that debt comes out of the pockets of the taxpayers. Every dollar of interest is a dollar utterly wasted in terms of improving the economy or the quality of anyone's life–most of those dollars of interest get sent to China to improve their economy and their lives.

    March 9, 2011 09:52 am at 9:52 am |
  20. Dennis

    Why should taxpayers pay for the cowboy poetry festival? I'm sure it's a great event but is it "tax worthy"?

    March 9, 2011 09:58 am at 9:58 am |
  21. Trish

    This country is in such a sad state, every member of congress, the senate and the administration should be removed from office. We have become a nation of irrational human beings. When I budget my household bills I have to account for every penny and if I can not pay my bills my services such as, gas, electric, etc. are turned off. When will all of these political idots understand this and stop spending money we do not have? Has anyone learned anything from the situation in Greece?

    March 9, 2011 10:03 am at 10:03 am |
  22. Ancient Texan

    What part of "we are broke and must cut spending" does this village idiot Reid not understand? Even He must know know that spending must be drastically cut. But then again the only numbers he understands is how many illegal casino workers it takes to steal an election.

    March 9, 2011 10:06 am at 10:06 am |
  23. MJ

    It's idiots like Reid who have put Government in the financial crisis we have. Our children and grandchildren will still be trying to pay off their debt due to reckless spending. Annual Cowboy Poetry Festival??? What is so scary, is that he really believes that our tax dollars should pay for this.

    March 9, 2011 10:08 am at 10:08 am |
  24. Kevin

    So is it Mr. Reid's considered opinion that my tax dollars (coming out of Illnois) should be redistributed to pay for a cowboy poetry festival in Nevada? And before people start slamming me for money that is coming into Illinois I want to make it clear that I disagree with those allocations as well.

    If the people of Nevada think it is important to have a cowboy festival, then by all means they should fund it and attend it. But they shouldn't expect the rest of the nation to provide the funding for it.

    March 9, 2011 10:10 am at 10:10 am |
  25. Sniffit

    It's admittedly an odd manner in which to go about making his point, but he still makes it. Of course, giant corporate entities like CNN who are carrying the GOP's water aren't exactly going to cotton much to explaining what he said if they can undermine his argument by playing superficial games with his words.

    March 9, 2011 10:12 am at 10:12 am |
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