Congress Pigs Out on Pork

The fiscal 2006 federal budget contains $29 billion worth of pork projects, according to “2006 Congressional Pig Book,” released by Citizens Against Government Waste this week.

“It is a 6.2%increase over fiscal year 2005,” said Tom Schatz, president of CAGW, at the book’s unveiling Wednesday.

As the book notes, this year’s pork projects include $13,500,000 for the World Toilet Summit in Ireland; $350,000 for 950 hanging baskets in Chicago this summer; $150,000 for the Bulgarian-Macedonian National Education and Cultural Center in Pittsburgh. These are just a few of the 9,963 pork projects financed by unaware taxpayers.

“Those are my citizens’ taxpayer dollars,” said Sen. John McCain (R.-Ariz.). McCain was present to announce the creation of a Fiscal Watch Team that will consist of seven members of the U.S. Senate.

"What we are overspending is the future of our children and grandchildren," said Sen. Tom Coburn (R.-Okla.).

Under Coburn’s leadership, Oklahoma moved from 16th place in CAGW’s infamous ranking of “Pork Per Capita by State” in 2005 to a respectable 48th in 2006. Alaska is first on the list again with $489 pork per capita by state (ppc) ratio followed by Hawaii ($378 ppc) and Washington, D.C. ($182 ppc). The biggest “losers” are Georgia ($12 ppc), Florida ($15 ppc) and Indiana ($16 ppc).

Being awarded for his “Dogged Perseverance in the Mad Pursuit of Pork” is Rep. Alan Mollohan (D.-W.Va.). The congressman brought home $ 2.2 million for the MountainMade Foundation, organization that he helped organize.

Two things distinguish “pork” from earnings: purpose and legislation process. Pork projects are oftentimes used as tools for re-election or as political favors to well-connected persons or businesses. Pork avoids legal budgetary procedures. Typically it is not specifically or competitively awarded, not requested by the President, not the subject of congressional hearings, but is requested by only one chamber of Congress or serves only one local or special interest.