Choking on pork: Our misspent tax
By Cal Thomas; Christian Examiner: May
The House in late March narrowly passed a $2.4
trillion budget resolution, setting the stage for a confrontation with the
Senate over proposed curbs on further tax cuts.
What should be the issue is not how much of our money Congress
will allow us to keep, but how much of our money we will allow Congress to
spend. Instead of debating curbs on tax cuts, members of Congress should impose
spending curbs on themselves.
Citizens Against Government Waste (CAGW)
has released its annual Pig Book. It lists enough pork projects in the current
fiscal year to harden the arteries of every taxpayer.
the gamut from ridiculous to outrageous. Why must taxpayers shell out $100,000
to renovate an historic Coca-Cola building in Macon, Ga., when the soft drink
company made millions last year and could fund the project itself? When we have
a $521 billion deficit and a $7.1 trillion national debt, why is Congress
playing Santa Claus by spending $200,000 for "recreational improvements" in
North Pole, Alaska?
CAGW reports that pork projects this year again
set new records, totaling 10,672 projects in 13 appropriations bills. That's an
increase over last year's 9,362 projects. Eliminating needless and wasteful
spending would put a serious dent in the national debt. But Congress, in the
only bipartisan activity left in Washington, continues to act like Paris Hilton,
who spends inherited money she never made.
CAGW reports Alaska leads
the nation in pork projects, amounting to $801 per capita. Runners-up
Hawaii ($392 per capita) and the District of Columbia, which
recently discovered lead in its drinking water to add to all of its other Third
World-type problems ($321per capita). Both Alaska and Hawaii are represented by
powerful Senate appropriators, Republican Sen. Ted Stevens from Alaska and
Democrat Daniel Inouye from Hawaii, who regularly bring home slabs of taxpayer
In the introduction to the Pig Book, CAGW's David E. Williams
and John, Middleton write, “Until Congress enacts serious and
meaningful budget reform, there could be another record level of pork in fiscal
2005. Tax dollars should be focused on protecting the nation, instead of being
used to protect the incumbency of members of Congress."
The profile of pork is this: It is a
project that is usually the work of an individual member of Congress and is not
requested by the president; it is not specifically authorized; it is not
competitively awarded; it is not the subject of congressional hearings; it
greatly exceeds the president's budget request or funding for the previous year,
and it serves only a local or special interest.
Such as: $9,929,000
for projects in Iowa, home of Democratic senator and Agriculture Subcommittee
appropriator Tom Harkin and Republican House Agriculture Appropriations
subcommittee member Tom Latham. Included are $293,000 for hoop barns (cq) and
$270,000 for livestock waste. What about congressional waste?
Robert Byrd, a Democrat from West Virginia and the king of pork, got $4,337,000
for the establishment of a Geographic Information Center for Excellence in
cooperation with West Virginia University and $160,000 for poultry litter
The First Tee program in St. Augustine, Fla., is receiving
$2 million (in fiscal 2003 it received $500,000). According to the group's Web
site, “First Tee is an initiative of the World Golf Foundation. The focus is to
give young people of all backgrounds an opportunity to develop through golf and
character education life-enhancing values such as honesty, integrity and
sportsmanship.” My father took me to the golf course and instilled these
character traits in me without it costing the federal government a
Defense and Homeland Security are attracting new pork projects
that have nothing to do with fighting terrorists at home or abroad. Included is
$1 million added by the House for the Young Patriots Program. According to the
Defense Appropriations Conference Report, this money will help to "expand the
Young Patriots Program to include a video which promotes the significance of
National Patriotic Holidays. When the federal government is involved, it's
always about expansion, never reduction.
Whatever the purported
benefits of these projects, taxpayers should not be forced to pay for them
without their consent. Read much more about this wasteful spending at
www.cagw.org. Too much pork can make us sick. Bipartisan misspending won't stop
until we limit the terms of those picking our pockets or force Congress to go on
a diet. It's our money. Do we care enough to protest?
hosts “After Hours” on Fox News Channel Saturdays at 11 p.m. ET. Readers may
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