07.17.2012 1

Time to end government sponsorship of sporting events

Our National DebtBy Adam Bitely — If you’ve watched a NASCAR race you have probably noticed the National Guard sponsoring Jeff Gordon and Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s racecars. But did you know that the National Guard has spent over $136 million sponsoring Earnhardt alone since 2008?

At a time when government spending is a divisive issue in Washington D.C., two members of Congress from opposing parties have found something they can agree on—government should not sponsor sporting events.

Rep. Jack Kingston (R-GA) and Rep. Betty McCollum (D-MN) have co-sponsored an amendment that would ban the military from sponsoring sporting events. Rep. Kingston’s office estimates that it would save roughly $80 million a year.

The amendment offered by Kingston and McCollum is attached to the Defense Appropriations bill that is expected to be considered in the House later this week. Any member of Congress that is serious about cutting government spending should have no problem supporting this measure. Just consider the following.

In 2012, the National Guard credits the NASCAR sponsorship resulting in 24,800 individuals expressing interest in joining. Of those 24,800, only 20 were qualified to join. And of those 20, no one joined. Not a single person.

Just last week the Army announced that it was ending its sponsorship of NASCAR due to poor results. The advertising was not resulting in new recruits.

As Rep. McCollum put it, “The Pentagon’s NASCAR sponsorship program is an outrageous waste of taxpayer money and Defense Secretary Leon Panetta should terminate these sponsorship programs immediately.  Spending $26 million on a NASCAR racing team – in the name of national security – for zero recruits tells me the Pentagon can painlessly absorb some serious budget cuts.”

Dale Earnhardt Jr. isn’t happy that his racing team might be cut off from this government largesse. He suggested that Rep.’s Kingston and McCollum do more research into the matter.

As Earnhardt put it, “I would encourage them to do more homework, get more facts, understand the situation a little more. I know just talking to the (National) Guard … they can’t express to me enough about how much this program helps their recruiting. They are committed to the belief it has a profound effect on their recruiting and their ability to recruit.”

Apparently Earnhardt hasn’t done much research into the matter or he would know that no one has actually joined the National Guard after spending well over $100 million of taxpayer money on sponsoring him and his car.

Government sponsoring sporting events is not a partisan issue. Operations like NASCAR are profitable without the government subsidizing a racing team. If politicians that promise to rein in out-of-control spending are serious, stopping $80 million in military spending to sponsor sporting events should be an easy vote.

Adam Bitely is the Editor-in-Chief of NetRightDaily.com. You can follow him on Twitter at @AdamBitely.

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