Posted: 9:43 am Wednesday, March 5th, 2014

Port of Savannah snub complicates debuts of Jason Carter, Michelle Nunn 

By Jim Galloway, Greg Bluestein and Daniel Malloy

030514 vp biden

Vice President Joe Biden meets Georgians who have benefited from the Affordable Care Act at Mary Mac’s Tea Room in Atlanta on Tuesday. Earlier, Biden attended a private fund raiser for U.S. Senate candidate Michelle Nunn. Brant Sanderlin, bsanderlin@ajc.com

A White House budget snub of Georgia’s effort to dredge the Port of Savannah has jumped up just in time to complicate the qualifying ceremonies of Democrats Jason Carter, expected to sign up today for governor, and Michelle Nunn, whose Senate turn comes Thursday.

And the bipartisan effort behind the deepening of the port, expected to cost beyond $600 million, now seems so 2013.

Your daily jolt on politics from the AJC's Political insider blogThe background word from White House sources is that this is not a budget problem, but an authorization problem that can be fixed by passage of the Water Resources Development Act, now in a House-Senate conference committee.

But in the state Capitol, Republicans are wondering if President Barack Obama intends to hold up federal funding until after the May 20 primary, when Nunn might be by his side. Or if Obama is slapping around Gov. Nathan Deal for his rejection of the Affordable Care Act and not expanding Medicaid.

“Yes, I think there are some hardcore politics involved,” said U.S. Rep. Jack Kingston of Savannah, one of several Republican candidates for the Senate, this morning in an interview with Martha Zoller and Tim Bryant on WGAU (1340AM).

Kingston also had a taunt for Nunn, who was raising money with Vice President Joe “Hell or High Water” Biden on Tuesday: “Did she even bring it up? Does she even know where the Port of Savannah is? Or was she and Biden so busy raising money they didn’t worry about the 352,000 jobs related to the Port of Savannah?”

But Kingston also supplied Nunn with ammunition that she might use to reply. In the old days, a Congress that didn’t agree with White House priorities simply loaded its own projects into the budget, in a bit of horse-trading.

But Republicans, particularly in the House, have placed such bargaining out of bounds – a self-imposed box on their own influence. Said Kingston:

“Because, under the House rules, this is an earmark. And so for us to place something in the budget which is not in the budget already – it’s not allowed. And this is considered an earmark if it doesn’t come out of the White House.”

***

When he qualified at the state Capitol this morning, Senate candidate David Perdue dodged the issue of whether the earmark ban is too restrictive, saying instead that Washington fails to prioritize projects that could have the biggest economic impact. Said Perdue:

 “It’s just one thing after another. And my frustration is the conversations we’ve had in Washington are drifting with it. There’s been no sense of urgency. We’re on third base, but it’s tough to get somebody home from third base.”

He said lawmakers look at this type of project as a “one-off” rather than a strategic priority.

“The money is there,” he said, before taking a swipe at Kingston. “It’s five feet. We’ve been digging that port since Oglethorpe. I just hold accountable the people who have been in office. It’s not just the Democrats, it’s not just the president. It’s the Republicans too.”

***

The Savannah snub and Vice President Joe Biden’s presence in Atlanta on Monday prompted an earlier-than-planned first shot by Georgia Victory, the Super PAC established to help keep Saxby Chambliss’ seat in Republican hands.

This was the missive, in part, we received last night from GV staffer Leslie Shedd, who only last Friday was flacking for U.S. Rep. Lynn Westmoreland:

Just a few months ago in December 2013, Nunn stressed the importance of the Savannah port project and put her full support behind it saying, “We need to ensure that the port is fully funded.”  Yet today, we see that her priority isn’t the Savannah port or the Georgia economy – it’s picking up fundraising checks courtesy of Joe Biden and his liberal friends.

***

Meanwhile, Gov. Nathan Deal’s decision to thumb his nose at Washington and plumb the depths of Savannah’s port with state money instead of federal dollars is almost assured to set up an election-year legal battle between the state and Washington.

The move helps him win political points with residents in Savannah and with powerful business interests in metro Atlanta, who have led the charge to deepen the port to make way for the bigger ships that will soon rumble through an expanded Panama Canal.

But it also risks a protracted and costly legal fight with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, who would still need to sign off on the project. And legal action could always backfire, forcing the project through new hurdles that could delay the timeline.

It seems he’ll have the weight of much of the business community behind him. If you needed any proof, consider this statement that came from the Georgia Chamber late last night that commended Deal for “pledging that Georgia will continue to move ahead with this this critical project.”

***

Expect the port decision also to become a dividing line in the race to replace Rep. Jack Kingston of Savannah. Five Republicans have already signed up to run for Kingston’s seat, and Democratic chair DuBose Porter said he expects a solid Democratic candidate to join the race.

Yesterday, we heard from Dr. Bob Johnson, who previewed an attack Savannah residents will hear plenty in the coming months:

“This flies in the face of statements from his own Vice President, who just last year stood in our town and said our port would be fully  funded. Obama through this budget has made it clear that he is a small minded politician playing red-state, blue-state politics.”

***

Huffington Post has a lengthy Q&A with Democrat Jason Carter, who is expected to qualify in the governor’s race today. Aside from asking his take on a Washington Nationals phenom –yeah, we were scratching our heads about that, too — Carter offered this take on the GOP line of attack he’s facing:

“What we have seen so far is the same playbook they’ve always rolled out for years and years, which is, he’s going to raise your taxes, which is not true. I’ve been as fiscally conservative as anybody in the legislature. They’re going to say that I’m a national Democrat. And also, not true.”

***

One thing that the furor over the Port of Savannah helped cover up: The U.S. House overwhelmingly approved changes to the flood insurance program last night, a fight that pits wealthy coastal landowners against conservative groups. From USA Today:

“Supporters of the measure, including Gulf Coast lawmakers, said the increases were making it impossible for many people to keep their homes or sell them. Critics, however, say taxpayers will be left to foot the bill for the financially troubled insurance program.

“The premium increases were required under a 2012 law known as Biggert-Waters that was designed to designed to make the government’s flood insurance program financially solvent by bringing rates in line with true flooding risks…

“The House measure also would repeal a provision in the Biggert-Waters law that increases premiums — up to the full-risk rate over five years — when the Federal Emergency Management Agency adopts new flood maps.”

For Georgia, coastal Republican Rep. Jack Kingston was a “yes,” while his U.S. Senate primary foes Phil Gingrey and Paul Broun voted “no.” The only other Georgia Republican in favor was Lawrenceville’s Rob Woodall.

24 comments
Baumer_1
Baumer_1

Guess what everyone? The President can't make and pass a budget on his own! What!? Gasp?!


Look it up, Obama is right. This is an authorization issue.  


Regardless, even if it wasn't, if I were the the President I would do anything and everything to screw red-states over.  They think the federal government excessively spends and they want more autonomy...prove you can handle it!  You can't have it both ways.  

Jke
Jke

Is it possible for you all to debate ideas, or is this just a place where everyone calls everyone else a name and spews harsh, personalized condemnation upon those who disagree with you? The gentlemen who write this give you an inside perspective.  Most likely none of you are connected enough to otherwise get this information any where else.  You take a valuable resource you could use to enlighten yourselves, and others around you, and instead you act like children in the school yard, making up silly insulting names. 


Apparently the 8+ of you who do nothing but insult one another have run the mature people off.  Hopefully, very soon you'll run out of childish material and go somewhere else.  Unfortunately that is a false hope, as you all feed on each others' negativity.  The rest of us will continue to enjoy reading journalism and ignore this part of this blog.          

Bernie31
Bernie31

President Obama is singing that Rap song that Shack did for Kobe......Shocking!

Bernie31
Bernie31

The Goobers are SHOCKED!      No Kidding.....

uh....huh.

Eustis
Eustis

If Nunn and carter were in office, we wouldn't be having this discussion.

Elect them and get the port project funded.

Likewise
Likewise

So SmartAleck believes in socialist government spending to create jobs!  Who's the Commie now?

NOlongerRepublican
NOlongerRepublican

I find it quite hilarious that the stupid Repububbalicans who scream about cutting spending and deficits and taxes and all that mess are now so upset they didn't get their pork. You can't have it both ways morons. And just why would President Obama do ANYTHING to make Deal and his cronies look good? I have no doubt the President's team looked through all Deal has said and done to thwart the President's initiatives before making the decision about the port. Deal knows its all about politics. He made the bed, now the rest of Georgia gets to lie in it because they elected him.

SmartAleck
SmartAleck

As is EVERYTHING with this president, it is all about politics and expanding the Socialist-Fascist democRat party.  

This president doesn't give a rat's behind if there are thousands of jobs on the line.  He cares ONLY to expand his power.  

Obama's pathetic politicking and small-mindedness proves beyond doubt, he and his cronies (Nunn, Carter, Barrow) are not good for Georgia.

RoadScholar
RoadScholar

Many of the posts are accurate in that this state and its politicians have not supported our President. But let's face reality: Would you give them what they want right out of the chute in this budget year when a lot of negotiations will take place for other items in the Budget? Would you buy your kid a new car while you wait for your child to become responsible, get their license, and adhere to your home rules, which they have ignored for 5 years?

Likewise
Likewise

Republicans!  It's spend spend spend!

MiltonMan
MiltonMan

No mention of Obama's buddy Mayor Reed???  Reed has spent many hours and taxpayer's money to convince Obama to supply some funds.  If anything, it proves Mayor Reed is worth about as much of a pound of Georgia red clay.

MiltonMan
MiltonMan

All you need to know about Jason Carter:

(1) He is related to Jimmy Carter

(2) He want to penalize smart high students who have "evil, rich parents" by taking away HOPE from them.

(3) He represents the biggest landfill disguised as a county in this state - DeKalb

Ralph-43
Ralph-43

Why do you conclude that the Port of Savannah snub is directed at Jason Carter and Michelle Nunn?  They did not make the decision to reject federal funds for Medicaid Expansion.  This is clearly directed at the anti-tax Tea Baggers and neo-confederates who are trying to enrich themselves and harm everyone else who is paying taxes.  Flush these secessionists and start playing with the big boys - that Port will materialize in minutes. 

Bernie31
Bernie31

@Eustis - President Obama will not Give these Backwards Hillbilly GOOBERS NUTHIN. He knows their History. He knows it better than they do themselves. That in itself gives an edge of one over the other. Just wait for the cutting of those Federal Funds from Georgia area Hospitials.

We should ALL soon start to hear the Loud Screams of .....HELP! from every Hospital Adminstrator all over Georgia.

uh...huh.

AuntieChrist
AuntieChrist

@SmartAleck You didn't hear? The gummint don't create jobs. The invisible hand of the free market creates jobs.

honested
honested

@SmartAleck  

What long term jobs are on the line?

There won't be any additional freight just temporary destruction jobs.

Bernie31
Bernie31

@BravesFan456 - Give Georgia The Single Finger SALUTE! One that comes with a great deserving, Frankly, My Dear..I do Not give a Deep Water Savannah Port....:)

uh...huh.

CharlesHendrix
CharlesHendrix

@MiltonMan Your inability to properly spell the name of the man you are bashing is indicative of the lack of any knowledge you possess in the subject matter. 

AuntieChrist
AuntieChrist

@MiltonMan   He want to penalize smart high students.

If that smart student want to get high, he should be penalized.

honested
honested

@MiltonMan  

Every time you post you make me happy that the insane notion of 'milton county' is dead.

honested
honested

@Ralph-43  

A cleansing that requires examination of the last 12 years and realizing that the net gain for Georgia has been NOTHING.

The confederate mindset requires refusal to acknowledge a lost cause.

Bernie31
Bernie31

@honested @MiltonMan- A very SIck and mentally disurbed group of selfish,self righteous, and self important people you would ever want to meet. You cannot imagine the screams of laughter, whenever I see you coming to talk with me on any thing. Those like MiltonMan are the Shiny Goobers...

Trackbacks

  1. […] Gov. Nathan Deal and Democratic challenger Jason Carter both attended Monday’s festival in downtown Savannah, not far from the sprawling port that poses political challenges to both campaigns. […]