Porking Iraqby Jason Pye
Behind all their lofty rhetoric about the Iraq war and bringing home the troops, members of the House and Senate were busy tacking on $20 billion and $18.5 billion respectively in unrelated spending to President Bushâ€™s $103 billion request. (He intends to veto the bill.)
Despite their campaign talk about earmark reform last fall, the new Democratic leadership shamelessly used pork to buy votes â€” before the vote, Representatives Collin Peterson of Minnesota and Peter DeFazio of Oregon acknowledged that add-ons for their districts would influence their decisions.
The heavyweights also led by example: the Senate majority leader, Harry Reid of Nevada, added $20 million to eradicate Mormon crickets, and David Obey of Wisconsin, the House Appropriations Committee chairman, came away with $283 million for the Milk Income Loss Contract Program.
Schatz also includeds a handy PDF of all the different pork projects included in both versions of the appropriations bill.
My favorites from the list are…
- $2 million for the Ugandan peace process (Senate)
- $5 million for breeding, rearing and transporting of live fish (House)
- $13 million for Ewe lamb replacement and pretension (Senate)
- $20 million for Mormon cricket eradication in Nevada (Senate)
- $24 million for Sugar beat production in Minnesota (Senate)
- $25 million for Spinach growers in California (House)
- $74 million for Peanut storage here in Georgia (House)
- $100 million for the Democratic and Republican National Conventions (Senate)
- $214 million for Kosovo assistance (Senate)
- $283 million Milk Income Loss Contract program (House)
This is how our tax dollars are spent by Congress. But God bless Tom Coburn (R-OK) and Jim DeMint (R-SC), who tried to get some of these wasteful earmarks stripped from the budget. Coburn sponsored a variety of amendments to get the pork stripped out. DeMint took to the floor of the Senate and urged fiscal responsibility.
Then there is George W. Bush. He has complained that the bill has too much pork, which it does…there is no denying that, but do not stand there at a press conference and complain about it after the spending spree Republicans had during your administration.