Since the 1980s, Citizens Against Government Waste (CAGW) has done an excellent job of bringing obnoxious pork barrel spending to our attention, but it looks like they have some serious competition these days. Republican Senators are beating CAGW to the punch by issuing press releases promoting their own pork.
Within 24 hours of voting on the TTHUD appropriations bill, Republican Senators rushed to issued press releases proudly taking credit for allocating our money to their earmarked projects. No effort is being made to cut spending in order to finance the federal money needed for hurricanes Katrina and Rita.
Senators Frist and Alexander issued a joint press release touting eight projects totaling more than $20 million, including:
$750,000 for the City of Clinton to renovate the Green McAdoo Cultural Center.
Senator Hatch’s press release itemized almost $21 million in earmarks. In his press release he comments on $600,000 for the Provo Community Arts Center by quoting himself:
“Utah County has sought for years to have a high-quality arts center to host community and national theater and performing arts,” Hatch said. “This funding will help start making this dream a reality: a permanent home for the arts in Provo.”
At least we finally have an explanation as to why Republicans don’t want to stop funding the National Endowment for the Arts. They need plenty of federally subsidized art to fill their federally subsidized art centers.
Senator Bond issued seven press releases regarding his gluttonous $37 million spending spree.
In a joint press release, Senators Chambliss and Isakson boast about more than $71 million of earmarked pork.
The press release from Senators Enzi and Thomas brags about “capturing” $4.6 million for Wyoming.
After Senator Burns itemizes his $8.76 million of earmarks, he reminds us that there is more than just pork in the bill:
Included in the bill is $1.45 billion for Amtrak, $250 million above last year’s appropriation…. “I’m happy to see the Senate designate more to Amtrak than we did last year,” said Burns. “As this process moves along I’ll be working hand in hand with my colleagues in both houses of Congress to make sure Amtrak has the resources it needs to continue servicing the American people in a self-sufficient and effective manner.”
A self-sufficient and effective manner? Isn’t that the exact opposite of making sure that Congress gives Amtrak the resources it needs? By the way, “resources” is a euphemism for our hard earned tax dollars.
Senator Craig issued a press release that highlighted $14.9 million of earmarks he scored. He links back to a July 21, 2005, press release that describes how $1 million for the Lewis and Clark Bicentennial Project Planning and Implementation will be spent. According to Senator Craig:
The bulk of funds in this request will be used to assist communities and non-profit organizations in preparing for the bicentennial in a wide diversity of ways, including construction of development of informational kiosks, community trails, interpretive signage, improved parking, and other infrastructure improvements related to the bicentennial.
Lewis and Clark were great explorers, but it is doubtful that even they could have discovered the Constitutional authority for Congress to spend our money this way.
Senator Shelby let loose with five press releases totaling more than $27 million in earmarks plus another $50 million for the Tuscaloosa Federal Building. Included in this pork is $250,000 for a child care facility at the Greenville YMCA and $500,000 to buy vans for the Alabama Area Agencies on Aging. The Republican Senator from Alabama isn’t interested in redirecting Alabama pork dollars to help with Alabama hurricane recovery.
Senator Talent issued five press releases. One of them explains why it is a good idea to spend $250,000 to revitalize urban baseball fields. Another, justifies $250,000 for a Winston Churchill memorial:
The Winston Churchill Memorial and Library houses a magnificent collection of documents and exhibits showcasing Churchill’s historic visit to Westminster College,” said Sen. Talent. “The Memorial is a cultural treasure in mid-Missouri. Renovating the library and museum is a very crucial step in preserving the integrity of this historic site.”
Churchill might have stayed home if he knew we would still be paying for his visit all these years later.
With Republicans like these, who needs Democrats? These Senators seem to think the main reason Republicans elected them is so they can spend money. They are oblivious to the fact that they have absolutely no Constitutional authority to spend our money this way.
TTHUD will now go to the conference committee where both parties will try to add more spending to it. After the final bill is voted on by both chambers of Congress it will go to President Bush for his signature. Those of us who would like to see our tax dollars reprioritized because of the hurricanes have a very slim chance of succeeding. If we sit back and do nothing, we have no chance.