Plentiful pork

Published 12:00 am Saturday, August 6, 2005

Tax and spend.

How many times have we heard so called &uot;conservatives&uot; use that phrase to blast their &uot;liberal&uot; opponents? During every election, the Grand Old Party bombards their opponents with accusations of wasting the taxpayers’ money and many times they are right.

Now that we have a Republican in the White House and Republican majorities in the House and the Senate, the taxpayers can rest easy because our tax dollars are in frugal hands. Right?

Washington lawmakers kicked fiscal responsibility to the curb this summer and passed a massive transportation bill and a massive energy bill.

This Congress can’t seem to stop gorging itself on pork.

The figures are so large when it comes to these types of national spending bills it boggles the mind. Maybe Congress believes the American people will confuse the &uot;b&uot; in billions for an &uot;m&uot; in millions or hope they don’t appreciate the difference.

The transportation bill Congress sent to the President totals $286.5 billion and may grow to $295 billion. Heck, what’s another 8.5 billion.

&uot;Egregious and remarkable,&uot; responded Republican Senator John McCain when describing his feelings about the bill to the Washington Post.

McCain was one of only four senators to oppose the bill.

&uot;My favorite is the $2.3 million for landscaping on the Ronald Reagan Freeway in California, McCain joked.

&uot;If you look at fiscal conservatism these days, it’s in a sorry state,&uot; added Republican Representative Jeff Flake from Arizona. &uot;Republicans don’t even pretend anymore.&uot;

Flake was one of only eight House members to vote against the transportation bill.

The biggest beneficiaries tend to be the most powerful politicians.

House Speaker and Republican Dennis Hastert landed $277 million in road projects for his Illinois district. $277 million in Federal highway money for one congressional district! What are they building, a road to Mars?

No surprise Republican Majority Leader Tom Delay’s district in Texas will receive $550 million from the energy bill. The money is earmarked for ultra-deep water and on-shore petroleum drilling research.

Delay, the most feared person in Congress and probably the second most powerful man in the country, pretty much gets whatever he wants.

My personal &uot;favorite&uot; has to be the $233 million for the Gravine Access project in Ketchikan, Alaska. This project will connect a tiny village to an island of 50 inhabitants and we can thank Transportation Committee Chairman Don Young, a Republican from Alaska for that one.

I did the math and it comes to $4.66 million per person on the island. Personally, I would take the $4.66 million and stay on the island.

Alaska, the third-least populated state, received the fourth largest amount of highway funds totaling $941 million and Young scored $231 million for a bridge near Anchorage to be named &uot;Don Young’s Way&uot;.

The President sets spending limits for Congress and not only do they ignore him, but they exceed his limits by billions of dollars.

Someone remind the President he has a special power known as the veto; I think he has forgotten.

The Democrats were not to be outdone in the spending frenzy.

Congressman James Oberstar from Minnesota, the top Democrat on the Transportation Committee, brought home 57 large pieces of bacon totaling $121 million for his district. Some of the projects included $560,000 for the Paul Bunyon State Trail.

North Carolina received over $5 billion and my old hometown of Wilson received nearly $7 million dollars for a northern loop. I still haven’t figured why they want to divert people around the town.

Lawmakers sent out press releases bragging of their accomplishments before the bill even passed.

So while the Democrats are the party of tax and spend, the Republicans have become the party of cut taxes and then spend. Who cares about the next generation of Americans who will actually have to pay for this nonsense?

My favorite quote from this mess had to be from Senator Tom Coburn, a Republican from Oklahoma, when speaking to reporters.

&uot;You have to be courageous to not spend money and we don’t have many people who have that courage.&uot;