Raese’s Companies Relied on Government Contracts in West Virginia

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Monday, October 25, 2010 at 9:57 am

With the Senate race in West Virginia between sitting Gov. Joe Manchin (D) and businessman John Raese in a virtual dead heat going into the final week, Manchin’s camp is touting an article in Sunday’s Charleston Gazette which calculates that Raese’s corporation, Greer Industries, benefited from about $32 million in state contracts and $2.4 million in federal contracts between 2000 and 2009.

There’s nothing inherently untoward about the manner in which Greer, a Morgantown-based network of businesses that deal in limestone, steel and asphalt, among other interests, won the contracts, but in a race steeped with rhetoric about the role of government spending, the Manchin camp hopes it will highlight the hypocrisy of its opponent, who recently told the Associated Press that he “can’t think of very many times when a government agency has helped me.”

Just last week, the candidates debated about the role of federal earmarks, which Raese derided but Manchin said were crucial for West Virginia’s infrastructure needs in rural areas where the private sector is unwilling to invest. Indeed, West Virginia is displaying the same schizophrenic attitude towards earmarks and government spending as the rest of the country — only it’s magnified by the conflicting pulls of the sharp conservative turn in the electorate and the worsening economic conditions in a poor state that relies on government help — and it’s proving a tough issue for both candidates to stake out positions as a result.

Raese’s grand pronouncements against state spending resonate with voters fed up with or worried about federal government spending, but they also leave him vulnerable to the claims that his broad opposition would have an impact on a number of projects that are easy to point to in West Virginia. And while government spending is looking pretty bad to voters in abstract, it still can look a lot like jobs when presented to them as a factory or public works project in their district.

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21 Comments

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R Anderson
Comment posted October 25, 2010 @ 2:40 pm

Relied on Government contracts? I don't think so. Completing work on a government project isn't a handout, it's providing a service that the government needs. I don't think Raese has suggested that the government get out of the interstate highway business- this isn't corporate welfare or stimulus or bail-out it is payment for services. The government just happens to be the customer.


Mark
Comment posted October 25, 2010 @ 2:52 pm

R Anderson, you're trying to have it both ways there. Yes, the government often decides (presumably with the taxpayers and voters behind it) to DO things to benefit the people of a state or country. Like when Ike (that socialist) built the interstate highway system. It ends up paying local businesses to carry it out. This is the kind of thing the tea partiers want to stop cold – not realizing that they are DRIVING on the results of those “big government” projects to get to their anti-government rallies.

And you're criticizing bailouts while you're okay with outlays-for-service. Kind of curious there. Do you realize that the “bank bailout”, aka TARP, is now almost paid back completely to the taxpayers, who will likely be making a *profit* on it? How in the world is that “expensive” then? People need to simmer down and think rationally about these things. (And meanwhile avoid driving on “big government” highways until they can appreciate that they were taxpayer funded and have been an enormous facilitator for our economy and boon to our way of life.)


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[...] Of course, Raese is not the only ant-government spending candidate to profit from government spending. For example, Alaska GOP Senate nominee Joe Miller took Medicaid benefits that he thinks are unconstitutional, while Kentucky GOP Senate nominee Rand Paul has called for reducing nearly every bit of federal spending except for Medicare payments because “physicians” — like Paul — “should be allowed to make a comfortable living.” (HT: Jesse Zwick) [...]


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thefold-Chris
Comment posted October 26, 2010 @ 12:18 am

Mark, good reply to Anderson and I don't refute anything you say. I just think you are kind of missing Anderson's point.

He's saying that working on government provided projects is different than people, well, who don't work and get government money. You know the poor welfare lazy people who vote Democratic. Where Anderson goes off course, in my opinion, is his semantical approach to the role of government.

Government no doubt “helped” Raese work. The government also clearly “helped” Raese make millions. This is still government acting as service provider. Whether or not someone works for the money or not, the larger point is the role of government and how it applies to the 21st century.

Anderson isn't trying to have it both ways, he's trying to have it one way– his way. Government's role is fine as long as it benefits those that vote Republican. If it isn't, then it's a social program that needs to be defunded, repealed, abolished or ruled unconstitutional.

What Raese is suggesting, and Anderson is supporting, is that government impedes more than it helps. $32 million later, it's easy for Raese to say such. Yet the role of government, where it is an economic stimulation exists whether Raese or Anderson admit to it or not. In fact, Raese is a perfect example of it.


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Rocking Johnny
Comment posted October 26, 2010 @ 3:01 am

If Mr. Raese earned an average of $ 3.4 million a year from gov't contracts, he earned it fairly in a competitive bid market. Did he get favorable tax breaks for locating a plant in a depressed area? Did he get a waiver on employee payroll taxes? Did he have a lawsuit dismissed by a “friendly” judge or dodge an EEOC complaint from an employee? I'd consider that to be “government help”. He helped the government by providing what they needed – fair and even exchange.

Is it a coincidence that West Virginia got enormous cash inputs for years from the Feds courtesy of Sen. Byrd yet remains a poor state? Does dependency on Big Daddy help or hurt? What is the real message people want to hear from their politicians? How do they want to see the money spent? Maybe the TARP bailout is paid back, but the taxpayer support of Fannie and Freddy is going to be with us a long time. And does anyone think the GM IPO is going to look like Google's?

There is a need for this debate over the role of Government, between honest and candid advocates of both sides, because we cannot have it all. I think it is instructive that after two years of a government working for what people supposedly want they are turning out in droves to say no way.


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Pingback posted October 26, 2010 @ 5:05 pm

[...] Of course, Raese is not the only ant-government spending candidate to profit from government spending. For example, Alaska GOP Senate nominee Joe Miller took Medicaid benefits that he thinks are unconstitutional, while Kentucky GOP Senate nominee Rand Paul has called for reducing nearly every bit of federal spending except for Medicare payments because “physicians” — like Paul — “should be allowed to make a comfortable living.” (HT: Jesse Zwick) [...]


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