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The Pork Page
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Your tax dollars are going down the drain
 

This page deals with money set aside for political purposes, for a small and specific part of the country, to benefit only a few people at everyone else's expense.  Another page, called Money Down the Drain, deals with cases where tax dollars have been wasted through government inefficiency and recklessness at the national level.

The problem of wasteful spending and "earmarks" is especially difficult to solve because members of both political parties are equally eager to spend tax dollars on worthless and unnecessary "pet projects."  In this regard, there is no difference between the two political parties.

There is now a new page (here) for the discussion of government money spent on professional sports teams and stadiums, which are some of the most inexcusable corporate welfare projects.

Farm subsidies are another variety of corporate welfare.

There is also a page about Cutting the Federal Budget To Prevent U.S. Bankruptcy:  A series of excellent articles by Jim Grichar about a long list of federal agencies that should be trimmed or eliminated.

Somewhere on this site there is also a Government Waste Page, which lists a number of excellent places to cut federal spending.

Also take a look at the Huge list of government agencies.  There is a bureau and a bureaucrat for every imaginable function of our overgrown government.  And each one has a deputy and a secretary.

This strikes some people as anti-American, but it really is not:  I believe It's Time to Scrap NASA.  NASA spends about $18 billion a year and doesn't really do anything.  Is your life really any better because there is an international space station?  NASA is a pork barrel project that only benefits Houston and Cape Canaveral.

In order to make this page load a little faster, the Pork Page has been chopped (that's a pun), and certain subtopics are now discussed on this page.  Subtopics on the spinoff page include:
The Federal Funding Accountability and Transparency Act of 2006.
The Big Dig in Boston.
Senator Lott's Railroad Line — The Railroad to Nowhere.
Sweetheart deal for Boeing.
The National Endowment for the Arts.
Amtrak.
The V-22 Osprey.

Lately there has been a lot of discussion about public funding of NPR and PBS as well.

Other specific examples of pork projects are listed on a page of their own.  The page you're reading now is about the problem of congressional favors and pet projects in general.

Pork products in the Emergency Economic Stabilization Act of 2008 and the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009



 Introduction:   If you take home less than your gross pay, it is only because someone has siphoned money out of your paycheck.  The federal government takes money from you under threat of imprisonment, including "contributions" to Social Security, which you will probably never see again, and Medicare taxes, which are not counted as income tax, and FICA, which is just another income tax.  After your income is taxed, you still have to pay state and local sales taxes, gasoline tax, and numerous other taxes on everyday purchases.  (State and federal taxes, on average, are 43 cents per gallon of gasoline.*)

In many cases, your money ends up in the hands of someone else who is too lazy to work.  Or it may end up in any of a hundred unnecessary government agencies, some of which are listed here and here.  Or you may end up buying a new stadium for a professional sports franchise.  Wasted tax money is one of the easiest topics on this web site to write about, because it's not difficult to find places to trim the federal (or state) budget.  Getting a politician interested in solutions is another matter.  Once you read the information on this page, it's up to you to apply pressure to your Congressman to put the brakes on unnecessary spending.

Republicans (theoretically) (used to) believe the money you earn is yours and that government in a free society has the right to take only as much as is needed to perform those limited functions, which are appropriate to it.  Democrats believe government has a right to use your money as it sees fit to fund welfare programs, to redistribute wealth and return to you only that portion of your money which is absolutely necessary.*.

This material came from akdart.com, Copyright 2011.pork barrel spending intended to perpetuate the re-election of incumbent politicians.  I can't help but believe that term limits in the U.S. House and Senate would put a stop to much of this.  The items listed below are but a few examples.



Citizens Against Government Waste is an excellent source of information about government waste.  Until recently I had so much of their information on this page that it ballooned into quite an enormous production.  To make this page load faster, the CAGW material has been moved here.  If the topic of wasteful spending is important to you — and I hope it is — please check out the CAGW page as well as this one.



Congress' defense bill is littered with nonsense.  Just in time for Christmas, a massive $577 billion defense-authorization bill headed for a vote in the Senate next week is packed with goodies that have nothing to do with national security.  One provision pushes forward a National Women's History Museum in Washington, DC — long advocated by Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-Manhattan).  Also tucked in the bill are pet projects that would establish a Harriet Tubman national historic park in Auburn, NY, and study the creation of federal historic sites in Queens, Brooklyn and Manhattan.

Page 1,324 of 1,648-Page Defense Bill Mandates 'Legislative Plan' for National Women's History Museum.  If you scroll all the way to page 1,318 of the 1,648-page National Defense Authorization Bill that the House Republican leadership posted online at 10:32 p.m. on Tuesday night [12/2/2014] you will find the beginning of the section that creates a federal commission to develop a plan to build a National Women's History Museum.  On page 1,324, the bill mandates that this commission "shall" give Congress a "legislative plan of action" to contruct the museum.  The plan for the museum commission has been criticized by conservative women's groups and leaders who believe it will be tilted toward a feminist, pro-abortion vision of American women — and that it will promote such figures as eugenicist Margaret Sanger and cost-free-contraception health-insurance entitlement advocate Sandra Fluke.

Mississippi Political Elites Can't Believe Voters Turning Against 'King Of Pork' Cochran.  One liberal professor in particular is perplexed by the concept.  "It's the strangest thing I've ever seen," Professor Marty Wiseman tells the [New York] Times.  "It defies logic or reason for somebody to not only run on cutting off the supply of federal money to Mississippi, but to actually be winning the race."

Thad Cochran runs in Mississippi as king of corporate welfare.  When the Republican Party deviates from its limited-government talk, it's almost always at the bidding of Big Business.  And in these cases Mississippi Sen. Thad Cochran almost always sides with Big Business.  Cochran, the six-term Mississippi senator, has suddenly become the underdog in his re-election.  The Republican primary has gone to a runoff after Cochran and conservative challenger Chris McDaniel both finished with 49 percent of the vote.

Thad Cochran: 'I Think Earmarks Have Gotten A Bad Name'.  Sen. Thad Cochran (R-MS) suggested to National Public Radio (NPR) he would like to bring earmarks back to Congress.  "I think earmarks have gotten a bad name," Cochran told the national radio outlet for a piece it published on the race between Cochran and state Sen. Chris McDaniel for the GOP nomination for the seat.  Cochran said if Congress isn't allow to earmark spending, then federal agencies have more authority over how to spend the money.

Republicans try to sneak corporate welfare agency OPIC through the House.  Republican leaders are trying quietly to reauthorize a corporate welfare agency this week, using a few opaque words slipped into a bill providing foreign aid to Africa.  The Overseas Private Investment Corp. is a federal agency that subsidizes U.S. companies investing in foreign countries — such as Ritz-Carlton building a hotel in Turkey.  OPIC provides a taxpayer backstop for the banks and the developers in case anything goes wrong.

Reviving earmarks is the last thing Congress should do.  Three unexpected stories have appeared in the news recently concerning the earmark ban approved by Congress in 2010 following a long campaign led by Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Okla. In the first, under a headline proclaiming that "pork is back on the table in Mississippi," National Journal's Alex Roarty reported that "a pair of Republican candidates — Sen. Thad Cochran and former Democratic congressman-turned-GOP challenger Gene Taylor — are embracing the now-banned practice sometimes labeled pork-barrel spending, using it not only to bolster their own campaigns but to cudgel their foes."

Even Under GOP Control, Congress Signals Unwillingness to Stop Spending.  Actions speak louder than words, and Congress' actions over 113th session demonstrate a bipartisan unwillingness to get runaway federal spending under control.  An early indication was Congress's actions on the Hurricane Sandy bill, a bloated, $50 billion pork-barrel spending bill that was ostensibly intended to help northeastern states recover from the storm.  Due to its dubious emergency designation, spending in the bill didn't count against the spending caps put in place by the 2010 Budget Control Act.  Consequently, opportunistic Members of Congress from both political parties seized the chance to attach tens of billions of dollars in pet-project spending to the bill, using it as a vehicle to side-step the caps.

The Privileged People.  During the "fiscal cliff" negotiations that Congress and the media made sound so tough — as if every last penny were pinched — Congress still managed to slip in plenty of special deals for cronies.  NASCAR got $70 million for new racetracks.  Algae growers got $60 million.  Hollywood film producers got a $430 million tax break.  When America's going broke, how do moviemakers get a special break?  By lobbying for it.

Meet the pork-filled $956 Billion Farm Bill.  The federal government pays for a $15 million 'wool trust fund,' runs a $170 million program to protect catfish growers from overseas competition, sets aside $3 million to promote Christmas trees, funds another $2 million to help farmers sell more sheep, and plunks down $100 million researching how to get Americans to buy more maple syrup.

Omnibus spending bill stuffed with Pentagon pork.  Celebrated as a bipartisan victory, the omnibus bill Congress approved Thursday is yet another example of lawmakers' propensity for overspending.  The massive $1.1 trillion spending package funnels more money that it should to defense and other domestic projects.  Following the outline set by the Ryan-Murray plan, the bill spends above the levels set by the 2011 sequester and wastes loads of money on special interests.  Although the proposal increases spending across the board, the big winners of this bipartisan spending orgy are the Pentagon and the military-industrial complex.  Thanks to Congress' willingness to renege on its commitment to cut spending through sequestration, the Department of Defense won't be subjected to the cuts that had been planned for the next two years.

No more funding for official portrait paintings.  Congress' spending bill funds the National Endowment for the Arts, but one art project finally is getting cut off:  the official portrait paintings of presidents, Cabinet secretaries and high-ranking members of Congress.  For the first time, the bill bans taxpayer money from financing official portrait paintings, many of which can't even be viewed by the public.  That is one of a number of "policy riders" that negotiators attached to the massive bill, most designed to tweak Obama administration policies on items including coal and incandescent light bulbs.

Sugarplum time.  The expired breaks are a bag of sugar plums offered as a reward to the industries with the most persuasive lobbyists.  They include $12 billion over a decade in credits for windmills, a $2 billion annual subsidy for things like two- and three-wheeled plug-in electric "e-bikes," and $75 million in incentives for Hollywood producers to film in the United States instead of Canada and other tax-friendlier foreign locales.  The giveaways include $50 million in accelerated depreciation to speed construction of NASCAR racetracks, a rum excise-tax rebate for Puerto Rico that dates from 1917 and a $250 deduction for teachers who pay for school supplies out of their pockets.

Group accuses McConnell of putting 'Kentucky Kickback' in bill.  A conservative group is accusing Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) of including an earmark for a water project in the deal to end the government shutdown and raise the debt ceiling.  The Senate Conservatives Fund tagged the provision the "Kentucky Kickback," and said it would benefit the Olmsted Locks and Dam, which is under construction on the Ohio River between Kentucky and Illinois.  "In exchange for funding ObamaCare and raising the debt limit, Mitch McConnell has secured a $2 billion earmark," the group wrote in a statement.  "This is an insult to all the Kentucky families who don't want to pay for ObamaCare and don't want to shoulder any more debt."

McConnell-Reid Deal Includes $2 Billion Earmark for Kentucky Project.  A proposal to end the government shutdown and avoid default orchestrated by Republican Leader Mitch McConnell and Democratic Leader Harry Reid includes a $2 billion earmark for a Kentucky project.  Language in a draft of the McConnell-Reid deal (see page 13, section 123) provided to WFPL News shows a provision that increases funding for the massive Olmsted Dam Lock in Louisville from $775 million to nearly $2.9 billion.  The dam is considered an important project for the state and region in regards to water traffic along the Ohio River.

Budget deal includes $174K payout to widow of millionaire senator.  Buried inside the budget deal brokered by Mitch McConnell and Harry Reid:  a payout to the millionaire widow of the late Democratic senator Frank Lautenberg. [...] USA Today reported last month that the proposed one-time payment to Bonnie Englebardt is equivalent to a full year's salary for a senator.  It's a long tradition of Congress to make such expenditures to widows.

Surprises tucked in Senate debt bill.  The legislation released by the Senate late Wednesday to reopen the government contains several surprises.  The bill includes extra funds to fix flooded roads in Colorado, a $3 million appropriation for a civil liberties oversight board and a one-time payment to the widow of Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D-N.J.), who died over the summer.  It also includes an increase in authorization for spending on construction on the lower Ohio River in Illinois and Kentucky.  The bill increases it to $2.918 billion.

Pelosi on pork project: 'What difference does it make?'  House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi Thursday [10/17/2013] said she can't answer for why pork-barrel items snuck into the debt and spending bill that passed Congress late Thursday, but said the press should stop focusing on that and instead look at the broader debt fight.

$174,000 to a Senator's Widow and Other Surprises in the Fiscal Compromise Bill.  There are some interesting nuggets inserted into the bill designed to re-open the government and avert a default, which the U.S. Congress passed Wednesday night.  As pork goes, these are low-level on the outrage scale, such as a death benefit for Sen. Frank Lautenberg's widow — a line item buried on page 20 of the 35-page bill.

A Kentucky kick-back?  Mitch McConnell is taking criticism for a provision in the Senate compromise bill that allocates [actually raises the cap for what can be allocated later] almost $3 billion for a project the Minority Leader previously has backed for a dam and lock project on the Ohio River.  The dam project reportedly would benefit Kentucky as well as Tennessee and Illinois.  As Eliana Johnson reports, this provision has been characterized as the "Kentucky kickback."

Shutdown Deal Includes Pork-Barrel Spending.  The compromise deal to reopen the government and avert a default on the nation's debt, set to be approved by both houses of Congress Wednesday evening, is not without pork.  It includes nearly $2.8 billion for dam project previously backed by Senate miority leader Mitch McConnell and a $174,000 payment to Bonnie Englebardt Lautenberg, the widow of late New Jersey senator Frank Lautenberg.

The Editor says...
The cream puff for Senator Lautenberg's widow (who could apparently get by without it) is the second-worst kind of pork barrel spending, because it benefits only one person.  The worst kind, of course, would be spending that benefits nobody.

Olmsted Dam Supporters Defend $3 Billion for Kentucky Project in McConnell-Reid Deal.  Pushing back against criticisms that's it's a "kickback" for Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell, business leaders in Western Kentucky are defending efforts to pay for the Olmsted Dam and Lock in the bill ending the government shutdown.  The language in the McConnell-Reid deal increased the funding cap on the project from $775 million to $2.9 billion, which conservative critics blasted as a so-called "Kentucky Kickback" earmark.

Goodies Make Bad Budget Deal Even Worse.  The budget deal failed to stop the train wreck that is ObamaCare, ignored the nation's entitlement crisis and kicked the debt can down the road.  But lawmakers did manage to take care of their own.

'What difference does it make?' Pelosi says of extra spending in shutdown deal.  Americans shouldn't think much about the various appropriations in the bill to reopen government, according to House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., even though she wished the spending measures weren't in the bill.  "This was consistent with what would be in a continuing resolution," Pelosi told reporters when asked about extra measures such as a death benefit for the widow of the late Sen. Frank Lautenberg, D-N.J., and earmarked spending for a Kentucky dam.

Senate Democrats block reopening of NIH, national parks.  Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid on Thursday [10/3/2013] blocked a House bill providing funding to reopen national parks amid the government shutdown, saying he would not allow the GOP to pick and choose from among favored programs and insisting the only way out is to pass all spending at the same time.  Republicans tried to get an agreement in the Senate to restore the parks money along with funding for the National Institutes of Health, the military reserves and National Guard, and veterans affairs, but Democrats objected to each of those agreements in turn.

The Editor says...
Big omnibus bills are the most effective way to conceal and pass pork-barrel projects through Congress.  The only purpose for the all-or-nothing strategy is obfuscation.  The Republicans' approach is the authorization of one inocuous item at a time, which would be an easy way for both parties to agree on programs that everybody likes.  At some point, however, the Democrats would have to vote on specific budget items that not everybody favors, like PBS, a bridge to nowhere, Obamaphones, or lifetime food stamp benefits.  If those votes were to take place, we would all have a list of who's in favor and who's opposed to specific wasteful programs, and the entrenched establishment politicians in both parties can't withstand that kind of scrutiny.

The National Science Foundation: Under the Microscope.  Very few of the proposals submitted for NSF financial support represented transformative scientific research according to most grant reviewers surveyed.  Taxpayers may also question the value of many of the projects NSF actually chose to fund, such as:  How to ride a bike; When did dogs became man's best friend; If political views are genetically pre-determined; How to improve the quality of wine; Do boys like to play with trucks and girls like to play with dolls; How rumors get started; If parents choose trendy baby names; How much housework does a husband create for a wife; and When is the best time to buy a ticket to a sold out sporting event.

Casino Crony Kickback: Reid, Heller Slip Las Vegas Tourism Handout into Immigration Bill.  Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) and Sen. Dean Heller (R-NV) have inserted a provision that amounts to little more than a handout to Las Vegas casinos into the repackaged immigration reform bill, Breitbart News has learned.  This provision, a brazen example of crony capitalism, was inserted into the immigration law enforcement section of the bill despite the fact that it has nothing whatsoever to do with "immigration" or "law enforcement."

Why is a conservative group opposing spending cuts?  President Obama's budget this week proposed $50 billion in new infrastructure funding.  [...] Republicans have always been unreliable on reducing federal spending.  GOP politicians will crow about bloated budgets and dangerous deficits but then load spending bills with parochial pork.  Republican talk of spending cuts almost always leaves the defense budget sacrosanct, with highway spending also receiving special treatment.

Obscene Government Waste:
  •   Rep. Tom Coburn (R-OK) is a leading budget hawk who identified programs to fund a space ship to another solar system, funds for advancements in beef jerky from France, and $6 billion for research to find out what lessons about democracy and decision-making can be learned — from fish!
  •   While you're trying to figure out how to pay your 2012 taxes, give a thought to the National Science Foundation $350,000 grant to Perdue University researchers on how to improve your golf game.
  •   Not to be outspent, the National Institutes of Health gave a $940,000 grant to researchers who found that the production of pheromones in — wait for it — fruit flies, declines over time.  Turns out that male fruit flies were more attracted to younger female fruit flies.

Investing in Bad Science.  The federal government expends vast amounts of money on "research" of innumerable kinds.  Many of these expenditures are unwise and unwarranted, falling into the category of pork or overlapping with work that would otherwise be performed by private-sector entities.  Public funding for scientific research should largely be limited to basic scientific discoveries or proof-of-principle experiments — which would reasonably be defined as public goods — rather than efforts to extend science into marketable technologies or products.

New York Fires Auditor Who Found Abuse of Federal Hurricane Sandy Funds.  No good deed goes unpunished in New York as the state has abruptly cut off a contract with the independent auditor who found that the city and state had been wasting federal money meant to be spent on Hurricane Sandy recovery efforts.  Thomas Sadowski, the fired consultant, told the Times Union that he was escorted out of the building when he visited the New York Office of Emergency Management shortly after he filed his report on November 17.

The 'Sandy Relief' Bill Passes.  It's a $50.7 billion bill with $17 billion in actual Sandy relief.  Two thirds of the money in that bill has [nothing] to do with Hurricane Sandy.

Pork in the Hurricane Sandy bailout bill:
Sandy Republicans Pig Out.  For instance, $17 billion was for "Community Development Block Grants," boondoggle spending that usually benefits political activists rather than average citizens.  Alaska fishermen several thousand miles away from Hurricane Sandy would have gotten $150 million.  There was $8 million for cars and equipment for the Departments of Homeland Security and Justice.  The Veterans Administration would collect $207 million for its Manhattan Medical Center.  There was $2 million to repair a roof at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington and $58.8 million for private forest restoration.  Almost $11 billion was targeted for future public transportation construction and maintenance.

Prolific Pork In U.S. Senate Bill To Aid Victims of Hurricane Sandy Is Shameful.  Highlights include:
  •   $8 million to buy cars and equipment for the Homeland Security and Justice departments.
  •   $10.78 billion for public transportation, most of which is allocated to future construction and improvements, not disaster relief.
  •   $17 billion for wasteful Community Development Block Grants (CDBG), a program that has become notorious for its use as a backdoor earmark program.
  •   $197 million "to… protect coastal ecosystems and habitat impacted by Hurricane Sandy."
  •   $41 million to fix up eight military bases, including Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.
  •   $4 million for repairs at Kennedy Space Center in Florida (because Florida is so close to New Jersey, right?)

Who Would Dare Veto the Sandy Bill?  In the late 19th century we had a president empowered by the same Constitution we have now, who felt its limitations mattered.  Today's politicians, judges, academia and mainstream media are unashamed to openly defy the Constitution, circumvent it, or declare it outdated and irrelevant — while at the same time seeking to publicly shame those who strive to adhere to it, or at the very least hesitate to spend what our treasury doesn't hold.

Should Your Children Pay for My Rollercoaster?  The criticism of the Sandy Bill to date has been about the pork the Senate larded into it:  the $150 million for fisheries as far away as Alaska; the $2 million for unrelated repairs at the Smithsonian; the $50 million in subsidies for tree planting on private properties; the $336 million for AMTRAK without any real plan for how the money will be spent.  What we should be questioning, however, is the money spent on direct Sandy relief, especially since we don't actually have the money to spend.

Compromise with a Side of Pork.  Republicans expressed dismay at the amount of excessive spending in the fiscal cliff deal that Congress passed Tuesday evening.  "The Senate loaded this up with pork," said Rep. Darrell Issa (R., Calif.) Wednesday during an appearance on the Laura Ingraham show.  "This bill was filled with both tax extenders and spending."  The spending included an extension of unemployment insurance while the tax breaks include subsidies for electric scooters and wind turbines.

Congress Piles the Pork into Hurricane Sandy Relief.  The millions of dollars for projects unrelated to recovery from Hurricane Sandy included in the Sandy relief act is the latest in a long line of examples of politicians using emergency spending bills to fund pet projects.  "You're at the end of the Congress, and there's always an interest in attaching anything you can to bills that are going through the Capitol Hill station," said Steve Ellis, vice president of Taxpayers for Common Sense.  "This is one of the last trains going through the station."

Some Hurricane Sandy aid diverted to Gulf Coast in D.C. deal to gain Senate votes.  A bill to provide $60.4 billion in disaster aid to Northeast states ravaged by Hurricane Sandy has been quietly amended to divert some of the money to Gulf Coast states recovering from a much smaller storm.  Democrats made the changes last week to win the support of enough Republicans to guarantee Senate passage, sources told the Daily News.

Pork for Christmas.  All eyes are on the fiscal-cliff negotiations to trim the $1 trillion-plus budget deficit.  Running alongside but largely out of public view is a $60.4 billion emergency spending bill to provide relief to the victims of superstorm Sandy.  Trouble is, the "Sandy" bill is laden with billions of dollars of spending stowaways wholly unrelated to the hurricane.  Did anyone really think earmarks would stay buried?

Senator 'Pleased' to Include $200 Million in Pork Projects in 'Sandy Bill'.  Senator Mark Begich, a Democrat from Alaska, is "pleased" to include more than $200 million in pork spending in the Sandy legislation, a bill meant to help those affected by Hurricane Sandy. [...] Conservative groups have encouraged elected officials to vote against the bill because of the pork projects.

How Obama's $60.4 billion Hurricane Sandy aid bill is stuffed with pork for NASA, museums, Alaska fisheries and more.  President Obama's proposed $60.4 billion federal aid for victims of Hurricane Sandy has been revealed stuffed with millions in spending for museums and NASA with portions sent as far from the Northeast's destruction as Alaska.  Now dubbed the 'Sandy scam' by its critics, only a portion of the federal funding goes directly to states and victims hardest hit by superstorm Sandy in New Jersey, New York and Connecticut.

NASA to send new rover to Mars in 2020.  Most missions to Mars have failed, although there have been a handful of successful projects, including the Pathfinder, which landed in 1997 and the Spirit, which landed in 2004 and roamed the surface for six years before contact was lost.  The $2.5 billion nuclear-powered Curiosity is designed to hunt for soil-based signatures of life on the Earth's nearest neighbor and send back data to prepare for a future human mission.

The Editor says...
How many Martian probes do we really need?  There have been multiple robotic probes sent to Mars already, and they have all landed in exactly the most favorable spots to "find evidence of life" or to "pave the way for manned missions" to Mars, etc., and they have all found nothing but sterile dirt.  Every Mars mission is called a success, even if nothing is found.  The Martian probe business is a classic example of multi-billion-dollar pork that benefits almost no one in this country.

Green War.  The Department of Defense has launched more green energy initiatives than any other federal agency and many are duplicative and wasteful, according to a report released Thursday [11/15/2012] by Sen. Tom Coburn (R., Okla.).  The Coburn report details nearly $68 billion in defense spending that appears to have little to do with national defense and instead focuses on issues ranging from beef jerky to studies of flying dinosaurs.  Included in the report is $700 million in green energy initiatives.

Reid blocks government funding bill to aid in Montana Senate race.  Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) is holding up the final vote on a spending measure that will prevent a government shutdown unless Republicans agree to vote on a massive package of bills designed to help a Montana senator in a tough reelection fight.

Sugar Daddy in Chief.  [Scroll down]  And Obama has repeatedly over the past several months used his executive authority to reward certain key constituencies, a process sometimes referred to as "vote buying."  Here are five prominent examples:  [#1]  $12 million in transportation funding for Ohio.  Several days before a scheduled campaign event in Ohio last week, the Obama administration announced the release of more than $450 million in unspent high funds to various states as part of the widely mocked "We Can't Wait" campaign.  Ohio is set to receive more than $12 million for transportation and infrastructure projects.

Obama uses green pork to push the swing states:
Nuclear's Dilemma: Few Jobs, Just Energy.  Last week, Environmental Entrepreneurs, a trade group, announced that wind and solar projects around the country had created 34,409 new jobs around the country in the second quarter of 2012, with high concentrations in California, Michigan, Ohio, Florida, and Colorado.

A carefully timed pork barrel project:
White House holds 'We Can't Wait' funds for almost four years.  The administration has waited three years and seven months to implement a new "We Can't Wait" project that redirects unspent appropriations to fund new construction projects.  The wait delayed the spending announcement until 11 weeks prior to the November election.  The announcement is part of the administration's "We Can't Wait" effort, which highlights the president's authority to change spending, law enforcement priorities and regulations, independent of Congress and the courts.

Obama OKs old earmark for highway projects.  The Obama administration will free up $473 million in unspent "idle earmarks" to allow states to spend the money on highway projects immediately, Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood said Friday [8/17/2012].  The unspent money comes from congressional pet projects that were written into four spending bills from 2003 to 2006.  But the money was never spent — either because of an error in writing the bill, because the project could be completed without it, or because the earmark wasn't big enough.

Obama redirects $470M in 'idle' earmark funds to highway projects.  The Obama administration said Friday that it would use $470 million in unused money earmarked by members of previous Congresses to pay for new transportation projects.  The White House said the money comes from appropriations bills that were passed by lawmakers from 2003 to 2006.  Since taking over the House in 2010, Republicans have banned earmarks, and have touted the fact that the recently approved $105 billion transportation bill did not include any.

HUD Gives Taxpayer Funds to Rich Indian Tribes.  Last week the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) announced its giveaway of taxpayer monies — calling them "competitive grants" — in the amount of $56 million to "tribal communities" around the country, saying that the funds will be used to "develop viable communities including rehabilitating housing or building new homes or to purchase land to support new housing construction."

CAGW's 2012 Pig Book  includes discussion of earmarks such as
$8,000,000 for Global HIV/AIDS prevention
$5,000,000 for the Starbase Youth Program
$3,000,000 for aquatic plant control
$38,522,000 for the high intensity drug trafficking areas program
$48,500,000 for the National Domestic Preparedness Consortium
$3,388,000 for national fish hatchery system operations
$114,770,000 for the United Nations Democracy Fund
$5,870,000 for the East-West Center in Hawaii
$5,009,000 for the International Fisheries Commission
$9,980,000 for assistance to small shipyards
$6,000,000 for a small community air service development program

A $90,000 federal grant — that's a lot of spinach.
First algae, now spinach to be green energy source.  President Obama recently touted algae as a potential source of energy, and now the Environmental Protection Agency has invested in converting spinach into an energy source.  The EPA awarded a $90,000 grant over the weekend to Vanderbilt University students "who designed a biohybrid solar panel that substitutes a protein from spinach for expensive silicon wafers that are energy intensive to produce, and is capable of producing electricity."

Obama Sends Millions of US Dollars to Kenya — Where His Socialist "Cousin" Is Prime Minister.  While visiting Kenya as a guest of the government Obama campaigned for socialist Raila Odinga, who claims he is Obama's cousin.  Odinga's opponents said Odinga was using Obama "as his stooge."

Kenya Sees Spike in Obama Administration-Funded Projects.  Kenyan businesses lately are increasingly becoming recipients of U.S. government largesse, as the Obama Administration, among pursuing other endeavors, aims to expand "livestock-related economic opportunities" in that nation.  Although this and other recently released presolicitation notices for unrelated programs serve as advance alerts to potential vendors — and therefore do not offer cost estimates and other details — a review of U.S. government contracting actions nonetheless indicates a spike of activity in Kenya in a variety of sectors.

No sugarcoating this giveaway.  When lawmakers with a stake in Big Sugar talk about the federal program that props up their pet industry, they invariably sugarcoat the bitter facts.  Consider this wad of marshmallow from U.S. Sen. Kent Conrad, the North Dakota Democrat whose state is a big sugar-beet producer:  "There is no cost to the government at all from the sugar program."  Why, yes, the government bears no cost.  But American consumers do.

Alternative Energy Industry Raking in Iowa Subsidies.  The alternative energy industry has found a reliable benefactor in the form of the Iowa legislature, which between 2003 and 2010 gave most of the state's economic development subsidies to biofuels firms.

Earmarks to Return if GOP Porkers Get Their Way.  Proving they've learned nothing from lessons of the past, some House Republicans are pushing to bring back the wide-scale use of earmarks to Congress.  These pigs in elephants' clothing want to end a three-year moratorium on earmarks and start trading pork projects for votes in order to pass legislation, even though their big spending, earmarking ways during the George W. Bush era cost them dozens of elections.

Sen. Levin tries to legislate a parking place.  The same month that Michigan Democratic Sen. Carl Levin bought his first electric car, he sponsored legislation to establish battery recharge stations in the Capitol complex's parking areas.  The bill would give the Architect of the Capitol (AOC) the authority to provide recharging stations for electric vehicles in Senate parking lots.  Levin introduced the bill in April of last year, the same month he purchased his Chevy Volt.

WaPo: 33 Members of Congress Earmarked $300 Million For Projects That Benefited Their Own Private Property.  Borrowing a page from Breitbart editor Peter Schweizer's investigation of how elected officials funnel taxpayer dollars to projects that increase the value of properties they own, the Washington Post has conducted a study revealing that 33 members of Congress earmarked more than $300 million for projects within two miles of land they own.

Lying About the Stimulus:  [James] Pethokoukis lists 11 main points that tell us all we need to know about the economic stimulus package that the Democrat-controlled Congress passed at Obama's behest.  Chief among them is this:  the nearly trillion-dollar expenditure package was primarily about implementing Obama's political agenda, not fixing a damaged economy.  The Summers memo is clear evidence that much of the rhetoric put forward by the administration and allies was patent hogwash.

Shrimp on a Treadmill.  How well can a shrimp perform on a treadmill?  It's a question that has puzzled mankind for ages.  Fortunately, some researchers at the College of Charleston, South Carolina, are in the process of answering it — at a cost to U.S. taxpayers of a mere $682,570 (and counting).

McCaskill-led earmark probe finds $834 million in requests.  A six-month study of this year's defense authorization bill has identified 115 spending proposals as earmarks worth $834 million, including 20 by Republican freshmen who campaigned against the pet projects, according to a copy of the report provided to The Washington Post.

Congress still passes earmarks to build bridges to nowhere.  If you thought the furor a few years ago over the "Bridge to Nowhere" in Alaska prompted Congress to kill earmarks, think again.  The 2010 budget approved by Congress and signed by the president contained nearly 10,000 congressional earmarks worth $15.9 billion, according to Taxpayers for Common Sense.

This smells like pork to me...
$1B homeowner program mainly benefited 3 states.  A $1 billion federal program to help distressed homeowners in much of the country mainly helped people in just three states and very few in some others, government data show.  Almost half the homeowners aided by the Emergency Homeowners' Loan Program are in Pennsylvania, Maryland and Connecticut, based on preliminary figures from the Department of Housing and Urban Development.

Look at What the Government Has Done with Your Money.  The feds have gambled with your money again, and they've lost it again; this time with a company called Beacon Power.  You've probably never heard of this company.  Candidly, before the announcement of its bankruptcy filing this week, neither had I.  Just as you probably had never heard of Solyndra before its bankruptcy, neither had I.  But your government has heard of both.

Senate Vote Saves Spending for Squirrel Sanctuaries.  A sanctuary for white squirrels, an antique bicycle museum and a giant roadside coffee pot are some of the projects that can still be funded with gas-tax dollars meant for highway construction after the Senate defeated a measure to strip such spending.  The amendment was offered by Sen. John McCain (R.-Ariz.) on Wednesday [10/19/2011] to a massive spending bill, but was tabled 59 to 39.  The measure would have lifted a federal requirement that 10% of highway funding to states be used for beautification or historical projects.

Las Vegas secures $5.5 million for Mob Museum construction.  About $10.6 million in historic tax credit equity — including $5.5 [sic] for construction costs — is expected to be brought in over the next five years to help pay for the $42 million Mob Museum in downtown Las Vegas.

FAA romance led to $970 million contract award, increase in ATC errors.  A recent spike in air traffic control errors is likely attributable to a change in the Federal Aviation Administration's chosen contractor for training air traffic controllers, The Daily Caller has learned.  That change was likely the result of a government contracting shuffle orchestrated by an FAA official and her lover — a former FAA official who worked for Raytheon at the time the contract was awarded.  Raytheon won the contract, worth nearly $1 billion.  Potentially deadly aircraft incidents attributable to control tower mistakes have increased dramatically in recent years.

Solar gold.  I am convinced that the green jobs that Barack Obama promised were simply a politically correct conduit to funnel taxpayer cash to the politically connected.

More about so-called green jobs.

Political Power.  The political left is always complaining about them — those undeserved subsidies for the hated oil companies.  But when it comes to government subsidies, the renewable energy companies are king.

Big Green rolls off its logs.  For Big Green, the archetypal "omnibus public lands bill" has been the ideal vehicle — a game that savvy Democrats play with freshman Republicans to "vote for dozens of my no-oil-or-gas wilderness bills and I'll vote for two of your 'name a mountain after some obscure native son' bills."  Even better for Big Green, an omnibus bill is so long and complicated that key staffers are known to have never read the whole thing.

Fraud and Waste at the Clyburn University Transportation Center (To Nowhere).  Has South Carolina State University taken millions in federally earmarked money and used it to create a slush fund bearing a powerful congressman's name?  If you read between the lines of a shocking report released by the South Carolina legislature's Legislative Audit Council, that appears to be exactly what is happening.  The report concerns an entity called the James E. Clyburn University Transportation Center.

Looming gap in weather satellites threatens forecasting.  Congressional budget cutting will delay the launch of a key weather satellite and hinder tracking of killer hurricanes, tornadoes and other severe weather, officials warn.  The satellite, which had been scheduled to launch in 2016, will be postponed 18 months because of spending cuts and delays.  The threat during that gap is that National Weather Service forecasts will become fuzzier, with the paths of hurricanes and tornadoes even less predictable.

The Editor says...
I find it very hard to believe that all weather forecasts are affected by any single satellite.  All this fuss is about a satellite that won't be launched for at least another five years.  (Weren't weather forecasts made before the advent of satellites?)  This is obviously baseless alarmism designed to keep the money flowing to somebody's pet project.  But if weather satellites are really essential, maybe we should spend less money taking pictures of Mars and Mercury.

Philly to New York trains to become nation's fastest.  Amtrak was awarded $450 million on Monday [5/9/2011] for major improvements that will make Philadelphia-to-New-York trains the fastest in the country.  The money was part of $2 billion for high-speed rail projects awarded Monday by the U.S. Department of Transportation, after the new governor of Florida rejected the money earlier this year.

More about high speed rail.

Washington's "Ten Most Wanted Corrupt Politicians" for 2010.  According to ABC News:  "In two years, [Kentucky Representative Hal] Rogers pushed through 135 earmarks worth $246 million.  He's brought tens of millions of dollars into his hometown of Somerset, Ky., so much so that the town has been dubbed 'Mr. Rogers' neighborhood.'"  Among the most egregious earmarks was a $17 million grant Rogers obtained for an "Airport to Nowhere," a Kentucky airport with "so little traffic that the last commercial airline pulled out in February (2010)."  But the most serious charge against Rogers involves an earmark he obtained that could benefit one of his own family members.

Dems rush to save cowboy poetry and other boondoggles.  Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., is a world-class whiner, but he outdid himself this week.  If Republicans' "mean-spirited" budget cuts go through, a "cowboy poetry festival" in his state would disappear, and "the tens of thousands of people who come there every year would not exist."  Reid's comments demonstrate the utter lack of seriousness about cutting federal spending displayed by Reid and most of his Democratic colleagues in the Senate.

In House debate, pet projects euthanized.  After more than 100 votes in four days, the lesson from last week's spending debate in the House is that nobody's pet projects are safe anymore.

Kirk Announces First "Silver Fleece" Award for Government Waste.  Today, U.S. Senator Mark Kirk (R-IL) unveiled the first winner of the "Silver Fleece" Award for government waste profiled in "Wastebook on Facebook," a joint initiative of Senators Kirk and Tom Coburn (R-OK).  On Wastebook, thousands across the country voted to give the Silver Fleece award to a grant by the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) of $998,000 to provide poetry for signs in zoos.

Obama's Solar Nightmare:  [Scroll down]  How else have the Democrats been trying to change our power industry?  By the old-fashioned way:  changing the rules of the game and then using our tax dollars to enrich green schemers.  The grand champion of spending boosts by Barack Obama and the Democratic Congress has been a 1014% boost in spending for the "Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy Program."  Then there is something called the Green Jobs Labor Fund — which did not even exist prior to 2009 and has received hundreds of millions of dollars.  But wait... there is more.  Much of the stimulus money also went toward funding green schemes, and one of the major beneficiaries have been solar power promoters.  These are, in the words of Washington Post columnist Robert Samuelson, "pipe dreams."  Many of the promoters and hucksters behind these "ventures" have chummy relationships with Democrats...

A High-Speed Rail Mirage.  [Scroll down]  Most of Obama's plan should really be called "moderate-speed rail," as it would upgrade existing freight lines to run passenger trains at top speeds of 110 mph.  At around $5 million per mile, the total cost would come close to $50 billion.  Not satisfied with moderate-speed trains, California says it wants half of all federal funds so it can build brand-new 220-mph rail lines.  But it's unlikely other states will settle for the slower trains if California gets the faster ones.  Building fast trains nationwide would cost at least $500 billion.

Can streetcars save America's cities?  The Obama administration recently offered some U.S. cities a piece of a $130 million federal fund for streetcar projects aimed at reducing traffic congestion, cutting pollution and reliance on foreign oil, and creating jobs.  Transit systems in Dallas, St. Louis, Cincinnati and Charlotte, North Carolina, are slated to share grants from the Federal Transit Administration's Urban Circulator program. ... But not everyone is a fan of streetcars.  "This is a waste of money," said Ron Utt of The Heritage Foundation.  "Streetcars certainly create jobs, but they are a poor investment and create little lasting value," he said.

More about mass transit projects.

Senators Vote to Ban Earmarks - Then Grab Them.  Twenty-five senators, most Republicans, who recently voted to ban homestate projects are claiming hundreds of earmarks in an almost $1.3 trillion bill to fund most federal programs and agencies until next year.

'Change Has Come to the Senate' After Collapse of Massive Spending Bill.  "We just saw something extraordinary on the floor of the United States Senate," Sen. John McCain said Thursday night [12/16/2010] after Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) — lacking enough votes — gave up on a trillion-dollar, 1,924-page omnibus spending bill that included $8 billion in pork barrel spending.  Reid's decision to pull the bill caught some senators by surprise — including the new Republican senator from Illinois, who now occupies the seat once held by Barack Obama.

Omnibus Bill Earmarks: The Database.  Sen. Tom Coburn's office has posted the entire list of earmarks in the Senate's $1.1 trillion omnibus spending bill.  All 6,715 line items are here — items like a cool million for broadband expansion in Vermont.  $400,000 to create a "research park" in Florida.  Millions in foreclosure modifications in several states.  $200,000 for "streetscaping" in North Castle, NY.  $500,000 for "streetscaping" in Indiana.  $100,000 for "construction of a trail" in Pennsylvania.  $250,000 for a lake trail in Texas.  All of this and more, totaling about $8 billion, is in the database linked on this page.

The database link is on this page:
Working Database of All Earmarks Included in the Omnibus Spending Bill.  The end-of-the-year Omnibus Appropriations bill includes approximately $8.3 billion and 6,714 earmarks.

The Omnibus Falls:  How Republicans defeated a $1.1 trillion bill.  As he stepped into a Capitol elevator late Thursday [12/16/2010], bundled up in preparation for the winter winds, Sen. Mitch McConnell cracked a thin smile.  For the low-key leader of Senate Republicans, good spirits were certainly in order.  Minutes before, his cross-aisle counterpart, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, had sounded a death knell for the much-maligned $1.1 trillion omnibus spending package — the pork-packed keystone of the Democratic lame-duck agenda.

DC feeding frenzy.  The weeks since Election Day have provided nauseating confirmation of Mark Twain's observation:  "There is no distinctly native American criminal class except Congress."  Exhibit A is the "omnibus" spending bill Harry Reid is trying to push through the Senate.  This monstrosity contains about 6,500 earmarks — special provisions inserted on behalf of lobbyists to benefit special interests.  The lobbyists get big fees, the interest groups get handouts and the politicians get rewarded with contributions from both.  It's a win-win-win for everyone — except the taxpayers who finance this carousel of corruption.

$48 billion earmark stalks spending bill.  Earmarking practices are far from gone on Capitol Hill despite the debate over the recent earmark ban proposal.  The Wall Street Journal is reporting a particularly massive piece of pork that appears to be part of the omnibus package lawmakers are sparring about in Washington.

Reid Pulls Controversial $1.2 Trillion Spending Bill in Favor of Short-Term Budget Fix.  Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, bowing to Republican opposition to a 1,924-page $1.2 trillion spending measure packed with earmarks, withdrew the bill and said he would work with Republican leaders on a smaller, short-term budget fix to avoid a looming government shutdown.

Departing Senators Larding Up On Pork For The Trip Home.  Some lawmakers were fired by voters this year while others gave notice, but that hasn't stopped the departing public servants from charging up a storm on the nation's credit card.  With Congress angling to finish the lame-duck session this week, a major piece of unfinished business is a $1.27 trillion omnibus appropriations bill.

From Peanut Research to Pig Waste, Pork-Laden Spending Bill Called a 'Monstrosity'.  In a stinging speech on the Senate floor, Sen. John McCain listed some of earmarks incorporated into a bill which he said had been "written by a handful of senators who happen to be members of the Appropriations Committee."  The bill reached his office just after noon on Tuesday [12/14/2010].  Totaling nearly $8.3 billion, he said, the earmarks include $349,000 for swine waste management in North Carolina; $413,000 for peanut research in Alabama; $235,000 for noxious weed management in Nevada; and $300,000 for the Polynesian Voyaging Society in Hawaii.

Obama Must Veto Omnibus Spending Bill.  The omnibus spending bill for fiscal year 2011, which Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid dropped on his colleagues yesterday, is more than 1,900 pages long, costs more than $1 trillion, and consists of some 6,600 earmarks.  The entire GOP leadership has come out strongly against the omnibus bill — on substance (it's terribly wasteful and profligate) and process (a lame-duck session of Congress should not be passing legislation of this dimension, which is clearly at odds with what most Americans voted for during the 2010 midterm election).

One Last Disgrace.  The 1,924-page omnibus spending bill unveiled yesterday [12/14/2010] by Senate Democrats is the legislative equivalent of a middle finger, one that reminds us of how richly the Democrats deserved the shellacking visited upon them on Election Day.  Rather than pass a simple "continuing resolution" to fund government operations through early 2011, Harry Reid & Co. decided to ignore the backlash against fiscal profligacy and let their pork barons run wild.

President Obama's $8 Billion Earmark Rerun: Lesson Not Learned?  The Obama administration today [12/15/2010] told Congress to pass an omnibus spending bill containing $8 billion in earmark projects, even though just a few days ago the president said one of the lessons he learned from the 2010 midterm elections was to take more seriously the public's disapproval of — and his pledge to oppose — earmarks.

Out-of-this-World Pork in the Beehive State.  Senator Orrin Hatch (R-UT) seems to have no qualms about either strong-arming federal agencies to supply pork to his state, or to vociferously take pride in such actions.  In a meeting at NASA headquarters a week and a half ago with other members of the Utah delegation (including his junior colleague, the departing, ousted-by-tea-partiers Senator Bob Bennett), he reportedly bullied NASA Administrator Charles Bolden and his deputy, Lori Garver, to ensure that any new rockets the space agency designed are built to congressional specifications.

Writing in corruption.  Lisa Murkowski proved this past week that she has learned nothing from the message of the midterm elections.  The main issues that drove people to the polls and created a Republican landslide were the beliefs that our nation is on the wrong track and that government spending has gotten completely out of control.  Within weeks of the election, Alaska Sens. Lisa Murkowski and Mark Begich voted to retain the wasteful and corrupting earmarks they cherish.  The new House majority, and even President Obama, have committed to banning earmarks.

The Prince of Pork.  Harold Rogers of Kentucky does not seem like an obvious choice to head the House Appropriations Committee in the new Tea Party-energized Republican Congress.  He's known as "The Prince of Pork," and not because of regular attendance at the local pit barbecue.  He has over $250 million in earmarks sewn into his royal robes from just the last two years.  This is not a profile likely to please the Tea Party faithful.

Legislative 'Christmas trees:' Earmarks by another name.  Earmarks epitomize to many Americans the corrupt culture that has brought Congress to its lowest level of public esteem in modern history.  But professional politicians in both parties are now treating the country to a vivid demonstration of an equally disreputable illustration of what is wrong with Washington — turning the tax cut compromise between President Obama and congressional Republicans into a "Christmas tree."

Legislative 'Christmas trees:'  Earmarks by another name.  Earmarks epitomize to many Americans the corrupt culture that has brought Congress to its lowest level of public esteem in modern history.  But professional politicians in both parties are now treating the country to a vivid demonstration of an equally disreputable illustration of what is wrong with Washington — turning the tax cut compromise between President Obama and congressional Republicans into a "Christmas tree."

The Day The Earmarks Stood Still.  A group of GOP senators has announced they will propose an earmark moratorium for the 112th Congress at next week's Senate Republican Conference meeting. ... "Americans want Congress to shut down the earmark favor factory, and next week I believe House and Senate Republicans will unite to stop pork barrel spending," said Senator DeMint.  "Instead of spending time chasing money for pet projects, lawmakers will be able to focus on balancing the budget, reforming the tax code and repealing the costly health care takeover."

Earmark Myths and Realities.  It's true that earmarks themselves represent a tiny portion of the budget, but a small rudder can help steer a big ship, which is why I've long described earmarks as the gateway drug to spending addiction in Washington.

Bringing Down the Queen of Pork.  The Patty Murray-Dino Rossi matchup is in many ways an archetype of the 2010 midterms:  Murray, the entrenched incumbent, versus Rossi, the outsider promising to change Washington's course.  But while many of her fellow Democrats have wavered, Murray has defended the president's agenda at every turn.  During the first debate, Murray said "not only did I read" the health-care-reform bill, "but I helped write it."  On spending, she insists the stimulus was necessary to save jobs, and perhaps most notably, she has been steadfast in her defense of earmarks, or "investments" as she likes to call them.

Earmark Moratorium Should Be GOP's Top Priority.  Congressional Republicans — including freshly minted senators and representatives — will be confronted with one of the most important votes of the year when they regroup on Capitol Hill just two weeks after Election Day.  It's not the issue of electing a speaker or minority leader.  It's whether or not to extend the GOP's earmark moratorium for the 112th Congress.

Coburn Report Shows Billions in Education Budget Spent on 'School House Pork'.  What do mariachi classes, wine studies and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame have in common?  They were all funded by federal Department of Education earmarks, according to an extensive new report released Thursday [9/30/2010] by Sen. Tom Coburn.  The Oklahoma Republican, in a study called "School House Pork," is urging the federal government to suspend these education "slush funds" after finding that lawmakers have secured 5,563 such earmarks, worth $2.3 billion over the past decade.

Harry Reid Slapped With Ethics Complaint.  At issue is over $100,000 of campaign contributions made by Nevada defense contractor Arcata Associates to both Reid and the Nevada Democrat Party.  The small Nevada defense firm recently had a program terminated by the Department of Defense which was subsequently reinstated via an earmark request by Reid.

The true cost of that canopy is high.  Following the death of Sen. Robert Byrd, Charleston Mayor Danny Jones felt it necessary to defend the federal funding of the canopy atop the Haddad Riverfront Park.  It was one of the final acts of pork-barrel politics by the senator and one of the few that were not named in his honor.

Buying pork with a credit card:
Pennsylvania will borrow up to $600 million to pay for pet building projects.  The new $28 billion state budget was part of a deal that would boost state borrowing by as much as $600 million to pay for construction projects such as new public buildings to be named after U.S. Sen. Arlen Specter and late U.S. Rep. John Murtha.

Greed of the Public Servant.  The American body politic is rotten with the disease of OPM — Other People's Money.  Eighty years of members of Congress assuming that they know better how to spend the money you earn than you do has left the once self-sufficient Republic a dependent, bankrupt debtor.  The death of West Virginia Sen. Robert Byrd marked the high tide of the OPM era — leaving behind libraries, highways, post offices, and federal buildings named for Sen. Byrd, amidst a state economy still characterized by poverty.  Government can take your money and build monuments, but OPM cannot "stimulate" a growing economy.

Whose idea was this?
St. Cloud Has $5 Million Airport Terminal But No Place to Go.  St. Cloud Regional Airport (STC) touts lots of amenities on its website — a café, ATM, free wi-fi, free parking and a $5 million completely renovated terminal whose capacity went up dramatically from 30 to 200 travelers.  There's also a new $750,000 passenger boarding bridge secured with federal stimulus funds to keep travelers out of the elements while catching a flight.  One asset, however, the newly renovated airport notably lacks — commercial flights and passengers.

Robert Byrd's Highways to Nowhere.  Despite the $4 billion in pork that [Robert] Byrd served his constituents over the past 19 years alone — not to mention the untold billions before observers started keeping tabs — West Virginia remains the third poorest state in the country.

Stimulus II means more cash for Dems.  Unemployment among government workers last month was 3.4 percent, according to the Bureau of Labor statistics, meaning government workers are about three times less likely to be jobless than the general population.  From this disparity, Democrats have somehow concluded that what we really need is a greater disparity.  How else can anyone explain their plan for an additional $50 billion bailout to prevent further job losses among state and local government workers?

Voters may be fed up with pork.  When it comes to the congressional variety, members of the powerful appropriations committees are finding that holding the nation's purse strings — and the power the positions afford in doling out pork-barrel projects back home — are no guarantee these days for re-election.

Seven Reasons Government Has Become Completely Dysfunctional in America.  [Scroll down]  Earmarks have become a means of legalized bribery.  We get all upset about politicians who are tied in any way, shape, or form to Jack Abramoff — but what Abramoff did goes on every day of the week.  Where Abramoff blew it was by explicitly saying, "I'll get you this much money and you'll do this for me."  Yet, lobbyists do the exact same thing all the time, but they just don't say it out loud.  They give money to congressmen and expect to get earmarks in return.  They do, in fact, get the earmarks they paid for — and it's perfectly legal.

Watchdogs:  Temple for Ted Kennedy built with pork.  The amount of taxpayer money being funneled to a Dorchester shrine to the late Sen. Edward M. Kennedy has ballooned to $38 million and could rise to at least $68 million this year, infuriating watchdog groups who insist the project should be privately funded.

Looking At Democracy.  Every time I use the word "democracy" to describe the process by which Americans elect their representatives, someone leaps to their computer to inform me that America is a "republic" and not a democracy.  I am well aware of this, but it does not change the process.  It got me thinking about Alexis de Tocqueville's trip throughout America in 1831-1832. ... Presciently, Tocqueville wrote, "The American Republic will endure until the day Congress discovers that it can bribe the public with the public's money."  That day has arrived.

How Much Are You Paying for Earmarks?  The first step to recovery is admitting you have a problem.  Will anyone in Congress concede it has an addiction? ... Let's take a look at some specific examples.  Millions of taxpayer dollars were set aside for textile research in North Carolina.  Hundreds of thousands of dollars went for tattoo removal in California and almost a million more for fish management in Alabama.

H.R.1: The House's Pig Pen.  The pork-laden American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 passed by Democrats in the House is a huge pig pen.  [Excerpts from the items requested by the Department of Agriculture:]  $5,838,000,000 — Rural Development Programs, Rural Community Advancement Program; $22,129,000,000 — Rural Housing Service, Rural Housing Insurance Fund Program Account; $2,825,000,000 — Rural Utilities Service, Distance Learning, Telemedicine, and Broadband Program; ...

A Conservative Manifesto:  What today's conservatives need is a manifesto, a list of those characteristics and policies that define what a conservative is.  Simply being against taxes is not enough.  I know of too many in my own party who use that simplistic measurement and then blithely vote to continue stealing from the taxpayer for no other cause than their own enrichment.

Change, loose change, spare change, and crooks:  [Scroll down]  Last week, the House ethics committee released a 305-page report on its investigation into seven congressmen — Norm Dicks (D-Wash.), Marcy Kaptur (D-Ohio), James Moran (D-Va.), Todd Tiahrt (R-Kan.), Peter Visclosky (D-Ind.), Bill Young (R-Fla.), and the late John Murtha (D-Pa.) — suspected of trading earmarks for campaign contributions.  In 2008, these congressmen provided various interests $112 million worth of federal funding and received over $350,000 back in campaign contributions.

Cornhusker Kickback II:  All things considered, the people of Nebraska let it be known that they preferred not to sell their birthright for a mess of pottage such as Obamacare.  If the Obamacare legislation makes it to Obama, it is supposed to be minus the Cornhusker Kickback.  Now Rowan Scarborough reports that the Obama administration has delivered another budget plum to Nelson and the state of Nebraska, adding more than a half-billion dollars for a new veterans hospital in Omaha.

Stinking up Congress:  At least once a week, and sometimes daily, the office of Sen. Tom Coburn, Oklahoma Republican, issues its "Pork Report" to highlight outrageous government waste.  The very fact that such a report can continue week after week, hundreds of millions of dollars after other hundreds of millions, is evidence in itself that spending abuses are almost endless.

Earmark Nation.  When earlier this week President Obama signed a $410 billion spending bill to keep the government running through the fall, every account of the event noted the 800-pound contradiction in the room.  Mr. Obama had campaigned against earmarks, even saying he would cut them back to levels before 1994, the start of the Gingrich-GOP interregnum.  Now here was Obama as president signing a bill soaked in earmarks.

Pork-barrel spending increases in 2009.  The cost of earmarks increased this year despite lawmakers' claims they're working to reduce pork-barrel spending.  Earmarks, which are inserted in appropriations bills by members in order to fund specific projects, added up to $19.9 billion in 2009, according to an analysis by the Taxpayers for Common Sense and Center for Responsive Politics.  Earmarks in 2008 spending bills were worth $18.3 billion.

Millions in Stimulus Spending Being Doled Out for Questionable Jobs.  [Scroll down]  Take the Napa Valley Wine Train.  The county received $54 million to build a railroad bridge, relocate a half-mile of track and build a flood wall to protect a wine train passenger station.  The no-bid contract went to a minority-owned business operated by an Eskimo tribe outside Anchorage.  The company then hired a real construction company for a fraction of what they were paid by the government to actually do the work.  The tribe's CEO has no construction experience.

Wine Train Stimulus Scam Gets Even Uglier.  The notion that the government was squandering millions of taxpayer dollars to prop up a private tourist attraction seemed to epitomize everything that was wrong with pork-barrel politics masquerading as sober economic policy.  I mean, while we're subsidizing tourist traps, why not give a couple hundred million to Disneyland to build a new "Pirates of the Potomac" ride?

Republicans lead earmark list.  The top earmarkers in both the House and Senate are Republicans, even after the GOP has spent much of the past year making fiscal restraint and runaway government spending the centerpiece of its political message.  Rep. Bill Young (R-Fla.) and Sen. Thad Cochran (R-Miss.) — both atop defense spending panels — led their respective bodies in securing earmarks, according to an analysis by the nonprofit Taxpayers for Common Sense.

No dip in earmark spending despite White House push for transparency.  Transparency requirements pushed for by the Obama administration have not changed the total spending on earmarks for 2010, according to a study by a group critical of the practice.  The amount of money directed by lawmakers in 2010 to specific projects back in their districts adds up to $15.9 billion, according to the analysis by Taxpayers for Common Sense.  Earmarks in 2009 added up to a total of $19.9 billion.

If you think our debt's bad now ...  On day one of his vow to take "meaningful steps to rein in our debt," Barack Obama asked Congress to freeze portions of discretionary domestic spending. ... On Day Two, taking a break from the rigors of austerity, he was in Tampa, Fla., promising $8 billion for high-speed rail projects there and in a dozen other places.  Four days later, he released a $3.8 trillion fiscal year 2011 budget that would add another $1.3 trillion to the national debt.

Off the rails.  The federal government is running annual budget deficits of $1.5 trillion, and the state of Florida is having to cut spending by billions of dollars every year to stay out of the red.  Yet both are willing to commit billions that they don't have to fund high-speed rail service between Orlando and Tampa.  Talk about fiscal discipline jumping the tracks.  This is the equivalent of buying a 50-inch plasma TV while your home is in foreclosure.

Florida Lawmakers OK Massive Rail Deal.  The most expensive rail deal in U.S. history has become law in Florida.  Critics charge the price was vastly inflated.  After failing twice before, a plan that will link several central Florida communities and clear the way for new commuter and high-speed rail systems in the state won approval during a six-day special session of the Florida legislature.  Governor Charlie Crist (R) signed the bill into law soon after its passage in December.  It allows the state to purchase 61.5 miles of track from the freight railroad CSX for $432 million.  CSX will then lease the track from the state.

Obama's Expensive Train Set:  There's just one thing wrong with Barack Obama's $8 billion economic stimulus plan to build high speed railroad lines he claims will create lots of jobs, move millions of people, curb traffic, clean the air and make intercity travel more cost-efficient and fast.  It won't.  It will create relatively few high paying jobs because the companies who build high speed trains are mostly in Europe and Asia.

Obama boosts funds for historically black colleges.  The leaders of the nation's historically black colleges and universities breathed a sigh of relief this week when they learned that President Barack Obama's fiscal 2011 budget includes a $30 million funding increase for their financially struggling schools.

Change We Can Believe In.  [Let's] Outlaw the naming of federal projects after any living politicians.  Don't laugh.  Without their names on highway stretches, bridges, and "centers", most of these projects would not be built. ... What is the logic behind the notion that we immortalize a senator or congresswoman who uses someone else's money to build a bridge, or lobbies for an earmark for his district, or, at best, simply does his job?

New Report Exposes Special Interests Tied to Cap-and-Trade Bill.  "Classic pork-barrel politics pushed this flawed legislation over the finish line."  Earmarks totaling $5.45 billion went to the districts of four Democratic Representatives: Bobby Rush (D.-Ill.), $1 billion, Alan Grayson (D.-Fla.), $50 million, Mary Kaptur (D.-Ohio), $3.5 billion, and Frank Kratovil (D-Md.), $1 billion.  Minority Leader John Boehner (R.-Ohio) referred to his fellow Ohioan's earmark as pork.

More about the cap and trade boondoggle.

$11 billion in disclosed earmarks expected in fiscal year 2010.  Congress is on pace to spend $11 billion on disclosed earmarks in fiscal year 2010, according to Taxpayers for Common Sense.  That's about $4 billion less than last year's cost of earmarks, which fund projects at the specific request of lawmakers.  Disclosed earmarks totaled nearly $15 billion in fiscal year 2009, the groups said.

U.S. troop funds diverted to pet projects.  Senators diverted $2.6 billion in funds in a defense spending bill to pet projects largely at the expense of accounts that pay for fuel, ammunition and training for U.S. troops, including those fighting wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, according to an analysis.  Among the 778 such projects, known as earmarks, packed into the bill:  $25 million for a new World War II museum at the University of New Orleans and $20 million to launch an educational institute named after the late Sen. Edward M. Kennedy, Massachusetts Democrat.

Porky defense bill headed for Senate vote.  The Congressional agenda is packed with health care, energy and financial regulatory reform issues, but lawmakers have found plenty of time to stuff earmarks into the defense spending bill, according to the number crunchers at Taxpayers for Common Sense.  The watchdog group analyzed the 2010 defense appropriations bill that will soon make an appearance on the Senate floor and found 778 earmarks totaling $2.65 billion, with many of the big-ticket items credited to members of the appropriations committee, which is typical.

The Bankrupt Party of Porkulus.  Let there be no doubt:  Democrats are the party with two ideas:  borrow and spend. ... The same underhanded, transparency-defying, earmark-stuffing process that marked the porkulus beast is dominating every other pricey piece of legislation hurtling through the Democrat-led Congress. ... The friends and patrons of Obama may be making out like bandits.  But for everyone else, the Democrats' ideological bankruptcy comes at a nauseatingly steep price.

Obama's Toxic Assets:  Ethics may yet become an issue with the Obama Administration which, like the Clinton Administration, came to Washington promising an administration of unparalleled ethical purity.  The $410 billion omnibus spending bill is a cornucopia for graft.  The $787 billion stimulus bill is yet another cornucopia for graft.  Then there is the problem recently editorialized upon by the Wall Street Journal.  It appears that the Treasury Department's plan for toxic-asset purchases is going to be limited to a handful of four or five huge companies bidding on the toxic assets and managing them.

And Now For Something Completely Crazy.  The news is coming so thick and fast these days that it's hard to keep up.  The Supreme Court, socialized medicine, cap and trade, record deficits, foreign policy fecklessness — it's easy to lose track of smaller issues with all that is going on.  Still, H.R. 1018 shouldn't be allowed to pass unnoticed.  H.R. 1018 is the "Restore Our American Mustangs Act."  It can fairly be described as a welfare program for horses.

Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison is CAGW's October Porker of the Month.  Citizens Against Government Waste (CAGW) today named Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-Texas) its October Porker of the Month.  The four-term senator from Texas is loading up her goodie bag just before Halloween as she prepares to leave the Senate to run for governor.  While claiming to be a fiscal conservative, Sen. Hutchison requested 149 projects worth $1.6 billion for authorization and appropriations bills for fiscal year 2010.

Obama expected to talk rail in Tampa.  President Barack Obama, in a visit to Tampa next week, is expected to announce federal funding for one of the biggest transportation projects in state history:  up to $2.6 billion for a high-speed rail system linking Tampa Bay to Orlando.

House Approves $410 Billion Spending Bill.  The Democratic-controlled House approved $410 billion legislation Wednesday that boosted domestic programs, bristled with earmarks and chipped away at policies left behind by the Bush administration.  The vote was 245-178, largely along party lines.

Earmarks:  Online hide and go seek.  Scores of House members are hiding their earmark requests in obscure corners of their official websites — sticking to the letter of their new rule while shunning its spirit.  The lawmakers are interpreting an ambiguous rule liberally, disclosing their requests as required on their official congressional webpages but avoiding any prominent display.

96 senators post their earmarks online.  One of the unsung heroes in the nation's capital is Bill Allison of the Sunlight Foundation.  Bill is a former investigative reporter and has for the past three years at Sunlight been a leader in the trans-partisan movement for greater transparency and accountability in government.

Public Land Mismanagement and Fiscal Irresponsibility.  Every year, U.S. taxpayers spend billions of dollars on public land management, but the way in which these funds are allocated — through the congressional budgeting process — ensures the Forest Service, Bureau of Land Management and National Park Service respond to the will of politicians.  The result is what has been called "park barrel politics," which persists while the National Park Service maintains an estimated $9 billion backlog of construction and maintenance projects.

Obama decries earmarks, then signs a law with 9,000 of them.  As a candidate, Barack Obama once said that a president has to be able to do more than one thing at a time.  Wednesday he proved it, though not in the way he had in mind.  He criticized pork barrel spending in the form of "earmarks," urging changes in the way that Congress adopts the spending proposals.  Then he signed a spending bill that contains nearly 9,000 of them, some that members of his own staff shoved in last year when they were still members of Congress.

Dem ties help 'pork park' pass.  Call it the Pork Park: Congress this week passed a bill creating a national historic park in Paterson, N.J., ensuring years of funding for the downtrodden area despite objections by the National Park Service that the park does not deserve federal dollars.  The 40-acre Paterson Great Falls National Historic Park was one of scores of parks and conservation projects that the House approved Wednesday [3/25/2009] as part of the $8 billion omnibus public lands bill.  President Obama is expected to sign the measure soon.

Broken Earmark Promises.  Wednesday — behind closed doors — President Barack Obama signed his 2009 Omnibus spending package, calling it an "imperfect" bill.  With 8,570 disclosed earmarks worth $7.7 billion "imperfect" is an understatement.  It's bad enough that our president was in an irresponsible rush to spend hundreds of billions with his "stimulus" package ($787 billion), and soon $350 million in the second half of the TARP funds, $32 billion — at least — for his new SCHIP program, and now $410 billion in his "imperfect" omnibus bill, but on top of that, he's been dishonest.

Barney Frank Named 'Porker of the Month' by Government Watchdog.  Rep. Barney Frank (D-Mass.), chairman of the House Financial Services Committee, has been named "Porker of the Month" by Citizens Against Government Waste (CAGW) because of his criticism of bonuses for AIG employees while Frank himself has supported bailouts for failing banks and lenders.

More Pork, Anybody?  There is no exact definition of what an earmark is.  Or even what pork is.  Obama has no objection to pork.  Just as long as it serves the public good.  Which is why in Obama's $787 billion stimulus bill there was plenty of money for a magnetic levitation train between Disneyland and Las Vegas.  This would do a lot of people who like to gamble while wearing mouse ears a lot of good.  Which is the trouble with pork and even earmarks.  Everybody who wants the dough claims it does somebody some good.

Earmark Madness.  Barack Obama was so fed up hearing about the evil earmarks in the $410 billion omnibus spending bill that the president signed it in private.  "Some things are signed in public," said irrepressible White House humorist Robert Gibbs, "and some aren't."  What's to be embarrassed about?

Earmarks and the Federal Budget.  Earmarks are generally associated with "pork-barrel" spending.  Appropriations that are earmarked can be wasteful, excessive, and unconstitutional.  However, as the stimulus and TARP legislation surely demonstrate, appropriations that are not earmarked can also be wasteful, excessive, and unconstitutional.

Robert Byrd's 'Road to Nowhere'.  It is just one of the many pork barrel projects around America that's sucking up your hard-earned taxpayer dollars.  Ainsley Earhardt takes us to West Virginia's Corridor H for a closer look at the road that leads to where?  Nowhere.

BHO Giving Up?  The Wall Street Journal today reported President Barack Obama has decided to give up fighting for "change" in Washington, instead acquiescing to the demands of the Democrat controlled Congress.  During his campaign, BHO promised to curb earmarks.  He promised to end the use of presidential signing statements — a president's way of rejecting parts of a bill without entirely vetoing it — something President George W Bush did very often.  WSJ reports he even promised to open an investigation of Bush's 1,200 signing statements.  But, today, BHO decided to break both promises when he signed the omnibus spending bill into law.  The bill contains more than 8,500 pork barrel earmarks worth over $7.7 billion in tax dollars.

West Virginia Watchdog exposes another Mollohan earmark scam.  West Virginia Watchdog Steve Allen Adams has uncovered another wrinkle in Rep. Alan Mollohan's earmark-based fiefdom — companies that rent office space in the office park named after the Democrat congressman not only have to write that monthly check, they also pay hefty campaign donations to you know who.

Giant Omnibus Bill Includes $7.7 Billion in Earmarks for Bugs, Pigs, Parking — and La Raza.  Termite research, walrus rehabilitation and pig manure are among the more than 8,570 of earmarks in the omnibus spending package currently before the Senate.  Critics charge the bill is stuffed full of so many pork barrel projects — $7.7 billion worth — that President Barack Obama should veto it.

Congress being dishonest with Omnibus, earmarks.  The nation's largest taxpayer group says both political parties in Washington are engaged in a "conspiracy of silence" over what they're actually doing to the Omnibus budget bill.  Meantime, the spending spree is continuing in Washington.

Top 20 Earmarking Senators in the $410 Billion Spending Bill.  Who is the biggest earmarker of them all?  According to Taxpayers for Common Sense, Sen. Robert Byrd, D-W.Va., takes the cake, with 60 earmarks worth $123 million in the latest spending bill before the Senate.  But he's hardly alone.  The budget watchdog group has released its latest list breaking down the earmarks, lawmaker-by-lawmaker, in the $410 billion bill set to come up for a vote by the end of the day.  The bill would fund the government through the end of the fiscal year, with an 8.5 percent increase over last year and billions of dollars in pet projects.

Reform Lite:  Obama goes soft on pork.  Pulled between his campaign rhetoric and his own party's congressional barons, President Barack Obama largely sided with his Hill allies in unveiling an earmark proposal Wednesday [3/11/2009] that shies away from any strict crackdown on the practice.  Obama proposed further transparency for the spending goodies prized by many members of Congress — but stopped far short of the kind of serious limits reformers wanted.

Obama tiptoes into battle on earmarks.  President Barack Obama announced new steps Wednesday to rein in pork barrel spending by Congress, but his failure to specify real cuts could come back to haunt him in the larger fight over his ambitious budget plans this spring.  "Nobody's going to believe it's real until they see an example," Rep. Jim Cooper (D-Tenn.) said, urging Obama to follow up soon with specific rescissions singling out wasteful projects to be terminated.

California has enough pork to be in hog heaven.  A massive spending bill expected to be approved by Congress this week is filled with more than 8,500 earmarks — those pet projects that lawmakers love — costing $7.7 billion.  Despite the tough economy, mounting federal budget deficit and pledges by President Obama and members of both parties to crack down on the practice, a number of lawmakers have defended their earmarks as important to the nation's economic recovery.

Two Obama Cabinet Members Added Earmarks to Omnibus Spending Bill.  Two of President Obama's Cabinet members authored a variety of earmarks in the $410 billion omnibus spending bill the House is poised to pass Wednesday to keep the government running through Oct. 1.  Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood and Labor Secretary Hilda Solis were both House members when appropriators began to forge this legislation last year.  However, a stalemate between President Bush and congressional Democrats forced the sides to punt the rest of the spending provisions until now.

Anatomy of an Earmark.  You can't be a Republican on Capitol Hill these days without talking about the 8,000 earmarks in the massive omnibus spending bill.  With somewhere between $5 billion and $8 billion in special spending projects, the bill contains so much questionable spending that no outsider — actually no insider, either — can keep track of it all.

Obama to Sign Spending Bill With Earmarks.  President Barack Obama will sign a $410 billion government-spending bill, even though it includes thousands of the spending "earmarks" that he had criticized on the campaign trail, a top White House aide said.  White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel, speaking on CBS's "Face the Nation" Sunday [3/1/2009], said the president wasn't happy with the 9,000-or-so earmarks that lawmakers added to the legislation.  But "this is last year's business," Mr. Emanuel said, adding that Mr. Obama would sign the bill, once it is approved by Congress.

Democrats try to brand earmarks as good.  Capitol Hill's top Democrats are making a full-throated effort to rebrand earmarks as good government, not a dirty word synonymous with pork-barrel hijinks.  With President Obama's vow to clamp down on earmarks putting pressure on lawmakers to change their ways, congressional leaders have set out to educate voters about why they think Congress should direct dollars to districts or states for specific pet projects.

Obama to release new rules on earmarks.  President Obama, who has been criticized for his plans to sign a pork-laden $410 billion omnibus spending package moving through Congress this week, will release new rules for earmarks prior to signing the bill, the White House said Monday [3/2/2009].

The Editor says...
Rules mean nothing to Mr. Obama.  He waives his own rules whenever they become inconvenient.  (Details on this page.)

'Bridge to nowhere' OK'd for Everglades.  A provision buried inside Congress' giant spending bill would overturn a federal court order, discard part of environmental law and reject an Indian tribe's plea, forcing the government to build a bridge in Everglades National Park that a federal judge has declared "a complete waste of taxpayer dollars."

Obama beats early retreat on promise to fight pork.  Despite campaign promises to take a machete to lawmakers' pet projects, President Barack Obama is quietly caving to funding nearly 8,000 of them this year, drawing a stern rebuke Monday from his Republican challenger in last fall's election.  Arizona Sen. John McCain said it is "insulting to the American people" for Obama's budget director to indicate over the weekend that the president will sign a $410 billion spending bill with what Republicans critics say is nearly $5.5 billion in pet projects known as earmarks.

What are "the People" Thinking As 546 Political Pigs Destroy their Nation?  310 million Americans have allowed 546 political pigs in Washington DC to completely destroy the greatest nation ever known to mankind.  The people didn't destroy the nation themselves, even though they will be the ones who will have to pick up the pieces and start all over, once it all comes unhinged... But they have allowed it.

Senate keeps pet projects in spending bill.  The Senate voted overwhelmingly to preserve thousands of earmarks in a $410 billion spending bill on Tuesday, brushing aside Sen. John McCain's claim that President Barack Obama and Congress are merely conducting business as usual in a time of economic hardship.  McCain's attempt to strip out an estimated 8,500 earmarks failed on a vote of 63-32.

Congress' Porky Pols Pig Out On Fine Swine.  Congress went on a pork-a-palooza yesterday, approving a massive spending bill with big bucks for Hawaiian canoe trips, research into pig smells, and tattoo removal — all while the nation faces an economic crisis.  Among the recipients of federal largesse is the Polynesian Voyaging Society of Honolulu, which got a $238,000 "earmark" in the bill.

A Budget Process Hijacked by Selfish Interests.  Yesterday was Budget Day in Washington, that glorious day each February when the federal city comes alive as the political agenda for the coming year is set.  Suddenly everyone — members of Congress, federal employees, contractors, lobbyists, the think tanks and associations — begins to mobilize for and against the thousands of policy decisions and proposals embedded in the president's fiscal plan.

Mayor Daley Seizes Land for Unfunded Project.  Chicago Mayor Richard Daley has kicked hundreds of families out of their homes and relocated a cemetery full of buried bodies to build a whopping $15 billion airport expansion Chicago residents oppose, airlines don't want and he doesn't have the money to build.  The kicker is that Daley stands a solid chance of getting a good chunk of the boondoggle funded in Washington's forthcoming stimulus bill under Barack Obama's pledge to dramatically increase infrastructure spending.

Stimulus plan could shape course of Barack Obama's presidency.  Though no stimulus bill has yet been drafted, Republicans are wary of some of the proposals put forward by groups that are talking to Obama's transition team.  They cite a report by the U.S. Conference of Mayors listing myriad projects cast as vehicles to create jobs and boost the economy.  Those include a dog park in Hercules, Calif.; a bike path in San Diego; and a $1.5-million push to curb prostitution in Dayton, Ohio.

Bridges to Everywhere.  President-elect Obama's transition team is promising that its $700 billion, or $850 billion, or $1 trillion, or whatever it now is "stimulus" won't include pork-barrel spending.  They must not have talked to the nation's mayors, who recently responded to Mr. Obama's request to compile their priority list of "shovel-ready" projects.  By all accounts, the $73 billion wish list may be the largest collection of parochial spending projects in American history.

Paving Projects Won't Boost Economy.  President-elect Obama has announced plans for a new stimulus package containing $500 billion to $700 billion worth of public works projects. ... America's governors already are scrambling to compose lists of "shovel-ready" projects so no bridge or highway is left behind.

Obama's Secretary of Earmarks.  Barack Obama wasn't kidding about the audacity of hope.  In tapping Republican Illinois Congressman Ray LaHood to head the Transportation Department last week, he got more Beltway hosannas for bipartisanship.  At the same time he managed to choose one of the biggest spenders in Congress, of either party, and just the fellow to push $850 billion in "stimulus" out the door.  As a long-time and stalwart Member of the House Appropriations Committee, Mr. LaHood facilitated the incontinent spending that helped Republicans lose their majority in 2006.

LaHood Sponsored Millions in Earmarks.  The former Republican congressman chosen by President-elect Barack Obama to direct billions in federal highway spending has been an unapologetic advocate of earmarks, a practice Obama now opposes, and has used his influence to win funding for projects pushed by some of his largest campaign contributors.

Senator flags $1.3 billion as gov't waste.  As the budget deficit soared, infrastructure crumbled and the economy tanked, the federal government this year spent $300,000 for a California skateboarding park, $188,000 to research Maine lobsters and $3.2 million on a spy blimp the military doesn't want, according to a new report by the Senate's self-styled spending scourge.  The report, to be released today by Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Okla., lists more than $1.3 billion of what it calls wasteful projects in 2008.

Santa Claus Government.  Last Monday, the U.S. Conference of Mayors sent its list of wishes to the political equivalent of Santa Claus:  Congress. ... The mayors claim the economy will be stimulated if their wishes are granted.  What do they want?  The National Taxpayers Union (NTU) has analyzed the 72-page list. ... [The projects include] 15 projects with the term "stadium" in them, including a $150 million Metromover extension to the Florida Marlins' baseball stadium; and 81 projects mentioning "landscaping" and/or beautification efforts.  Kristina Rasmussen, NTU's director of government affairs, offers more analysis of the mayors' report on NTU's blog:  "Total cost of the wish list is $73,163,299,303."

On earmarks, nobody wants to admit who's your daddy.  Earmarks like the infamous $223 million "Bridge to Nowhere" in Alaska are getting lots of public attention these days but The Examiner recently found that uncovering simple facts about them can be nearly impossible.  When we asked questions about three earmarks worth millions of dollars given to local recipients, nobody seemed to know how the earmarks started or which member of Congress was responsible for them.

New book:
Downsizing the Federal Government  by Chris Edwards, who is director of tax policy at the Cato Institute.  He holds an MA in economics from George Mason University in Virginia.

2005 Congressional Pig Book Summary.  The federal government's expanding waistline (a record $427 billion deficit) has resulted from too many members of Congress believing that the United States Treasury is their own personal ATM.  Our elected officials have let themselves go whole hog while letting down every hard-working American taxpayer.  The 2005 Congressional Pig Book is the latest installment of Citizens Against Government Waste's (CAGW) 15-year exposé of pork-barrel spending.  This year's list includes $3,270,000 for the Capitol Visitor Center; $100,000 for the Tiger Woods Foundation; and $75,000 for Onondaga County for the Greater Syracuse Sports Hall of Fame.

Table:   Pork Per Capita by State.

The dried-up veto pen:  Last week, I was asked to testify before the Senate Democratic Policy Committee. … I explained I am not particularly a deficit hawk, nor do the size of the Bush tax cuts bother me.  What really bothers me is the orgy of spending by Republicans.  It is just appalling that the recent highway bill had 5,000 "earmarks" in it, almost without exception, utterly unjustified pork barrel projects.

A History of Earmarks (or rather, the lack thereof).  Just take a look at the history of the Defense Appropriations Bill:  Taxpayers for Common Sense calculated that the 1970 Defense Appropriations Bill had a dozen earmarks; the 1980 bill had 62 earmarks; and by 2005, the defense bill had skyrocketed to 2,671 earmarks.  The most recent bill spends money on anything from the eradication of brown tree snakes in Guam, to a virtual reality spray paint simulator system in Pine City, Minnesota.  (And remember, this is the Defense Appropriations Bill.  What do snakes and spray paint have to do with maintaining our nation's security?)

Earmark Spending Makes a Comeback.  More than a year after Congress pledged to curb pork barrel funding known as earmarks, lawmakers are gearing up for another spending binge, directing billions toward organizations and companies in their home districts.  Earmark spending in the House's defense authorization bill alone soared 29 percent last month, from $7.7 billion last year to $9.9 billion now, according to data compiled by Taxpayers for Common Sense, a nonpartisan watchdog group in the District.

The Weight of Government:  In the chaos of defeat Republicans and conservatives feel most ashamed about the profligate spending.  How was it that the conservative President Bush and the Republican Congress of 2001-2006 could have so increased the weight of government on the backs of the American people -- including that most shameful spending of all, earmarks?  The answer is simple.  Republican politicians know that the American people don't really want to cut government.

It's Priceless.  Government budgets, after all, are only projections of what is supposed to happen, not a hard and fast record of what has in fact happened.  And seldom will the public or the media do anything so mean-spirited as go back and compare what the budget said would happen with what actually happened.  Moreover, politicians can put certain large expenditures "off budget" for any number of noble-sounding reasons.  And if you have long experience in using political rhetoric, nothing is easier than coming up with noble-sounding reasons.

Pelosi:  Just Forget the Word 'Earmark'.  The more than 32,000 earmarks requested in the Homeland Security spending bill have roiled the House this week, and now Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D.-Calif.) wants the word 'earmark' to just go away.  In a Tuesday press conference about appropriation bills, Pelosi said, "Why don't we leave here today forgetting the word earmark?"  She said they should be called "legislative directives" instead.

The Do-Nothing Congress:  [Scroll down] The Do-Nothing Congress also promised to correct the very real problem of hidden legislative earmarks.  But how was this done?  By changing legislative procedure so that these earmarks do not even show up in subcommittee reports, but are rather hidden even more deeply in conference committee reports of appropriation bills.  That makes the problem of abuse by earmark worse, not better.

Congress forgets ban on pet projects.  Get out the trough, it's feeding time.  Congress has decided that an election year with recession written all over it is not the time to be giving up those job-producing "pork" projects bemoaned by both parties' presidential candidates.

Earmarks After Dark:  Remember those Congressional pledges of earmark reform?  Democrats are hoping you don't, as they try to pull a fast one and evade President Bush's pledge to block these special-interest spending projects slipped into legislation without scrutiny.

$6.6 billion in special projects rides on federal spending bill.  A $630 billion spending bill nearing final approval in Congress includes $6.6 billion for thousands of lawmakers' pet projects, including $51.5 million requested by Democratic vice presidential nominee Joe Biden when both presidential candidates have sworn off seeking any money.  Taxpayers for Common Sense analyzed the 2,321 special-interest items called "earmarks" in the spending bill.

Holds and Hotlines:  The Senate should not routinely pass legislation that spends millions or billions of taxpayer dollars without any debate or opportunities for Senators to offer amendments.  Under this current practice, the lack of a phone call from a staffer constitutes unanimous consent of the 100 members of the Senate. … Most bills that are introduced expand the power, authority and cost of the federal government.

Only ABC Highlights Dem Gluttony on Pork Spending.  Of the three morning shows, only ABC's "Good Morning America" highlighted the implications of a new report on pork barrel spending by the group Citizens Against Government Waste [CAGW].  GMA was the sole network morning program to mention that Democrats broke their campaign promise to cut such pork projects in half.

Distrust Fund:  It's almost a D.C. truism that anytime Congress creates a "trust fund" for a certain policy issue, the money flowing into the fund will be diverted to something else.  Government trust funds are set up with special taxes and fees so that they will be less subject to normal budget constraints.  That makes them desirable for future Congresses to divert their proceeds to spend on pork.  Payroll tax money in the Social Security Trust Fund has for decades been emptied out to fund general government programs.

Bill jeered as omnibus earmark full of pork.  The Senate will soon consider legislation with an impressive-sounding name — Advancing America's Priorities Act.  But the bill being pushed by Democratic leaders includes lots of lawmakers' pet priorities, such as a commission on the "Star-Spangled Banner" and the War of 1812, $1.5 billion for the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority and $5 million for a museum in Poland.  The legislation lumps nearly 40 separate bills into one and authorizes numerous "earmarks," the targeted spending for projects that Democrats often ridiculed as pork-barrel when they swept into power 18 months ago.

Dr. No strikes again.  Senate Democratic leader Harry Reid tried to shove an $11.3 billion pork-barrel bill past the Republicans last week but was gunned down by Oklahoman Tom Coburn and 39 of his friends.  It was an embarrassing defeat for Mr. Reid, who never met a spending bill he didn't like, and a sweet victory for Mr. Coburn and his fellow Republicans who are trying to regain the trust of the GOP's disillusioned base as the party of fiscal discipline.

An Obamanomics Preview.  The latest ["stimulus"] plan is even worse than the spring round of $100 billion or so in tax rebate checks.  At least rebates allowed taxpayers to spend their own money.  Under this stimulus the government will tax or borrow $150 billion to $300 billion in order to spend the money on social and pork-barrel programs.  The latest draft would direct dollars to food stamps, another expansion in unemployment insurance, home heating subsidies, more aid to states and cities, and "infrastructure" like roads, bridges and public transit.  Because of Davis-Bacon wage requirements on these brick and mortar projects, a portion of the dollars would coincidentally flow to the Democrats' biggest campaign contributors:  unions.  Call it a political "rebate" check.

The Obamessiah Of Pickpocket Politics.  There is no such thing as a free public feeding trough.  Every penny in that trough came from the pockets of fellow Americans who earned them and politicians, who pick those pockets as an expedient means of gaining personal political power, are nothing more than thieves for hire.

Pork For Christmas (For Some People).  Earmarks amount to kickbacks for groups and projects within individual Congressional districts and are well-known for their wastefulness.  They are often, though not always, intended to reward local campaign donors or personal friends.  This year new rules in the House of Representatives would prohibit the addition of earmarks added to a bill in conference, but because the Omnibus spending bill is being treated as an amendment from the Senate, it is exempt from those rules.

Bullies, Muggers, Sneak Thieves, and Con Men.  Government sneak thieves … specialize in legislative riders, budgetary add-ons and earmarks, logrolling, omnibus "Christmas tree" bills, and other gimmicks designed to conceal the size, the beneficiaries, and sometimes even the existence of their theft.  At the end of the day, the taxpayers find there's nothing left in the till, but they have little or no idea where all of their money went.

What has the Democratic congress done?  After taking back the Congress, the Dems made many lofty promises, such as killing "earmark" legislation and ending "pork barrel" politics.  Instead, we got a Congress that was incapable of passing a reasonable budget and instead passed an "Omnibus" bill that supposedly funds the federal government for the next few months.  But the new Democratic Congress actually exceeded the old GOP Congress in earmark spending.

Texas reaps $2.2 billion in earmarks.  Texas corralled $2.2 billion in special projects from the federal government this year, including $294,000 for a Houston zoo program and $22 million for an Army gymnasium near El Paso. … Earmarks are bipartisan.  Sen. Hutchison was the state's most successful proponent of such spending in 2007, bringing home $254 million in projects.  Every other Texas lawmaker in Congress except one, Rep. Jeb Hensarling, R-Dallas, sought them.

U.S. senator wants probe of Coconut Road earmark.  An Oklahoma senator plans is planning to propose legislation next week that would force a special congressional investigation to find out who set aside $10 million in a 2005 transportation bill — after it won final House and Senate passage — to study a possible highway interchange in Southwest Florida.

The Editor says...
How is it possible to add a $10 million spending project anonymously?  As long as any spending bill or amendment can be introduced anonymously, at any level of government, we're all in danger.

Sen. Coburn's Coconut Road Amendment:  The amendment would form a joint committee to investigate the secret $10 million earmark for Florida's Coconut Road.

GOP Senators Opt for Pork.  According to Taxpayers for Common Sense, the five-term [Sen. Thad] Cochran is the new congressional king of pork this year, with $774 million worth of earmarks in 12 spending bills.  He has dethroned his predecessor as the top GOP appropriator, Ted Stevens, a six-termer who is the senior Republican in the Senate and now ranks second, with $502 million in pork.

'Earmark' cash aids Democrat freshmen.  A year ago, Democrats won control of Congress in part by criticizing billions of dollars spent on pet projects.  Now, freshmen Democrats are benefiting from the same kind of spending, a USA TODAY analysis shows.  All 49 of the new Democratic lawmakers sponsored or co-sponsored at least one project — known as an "earmark" — inserted into the House and Senate spending bills, the analysis found.  Freshmen Democrats were the sole sponsors on projects worth $351 million, an average of $7.6 million.  Republicans got approval for projects worth $65 million, or $5 million each.

Everybody will know if it's pork.  The House adopts rules requiring lawmakers to disclose their earmarks.

The new earmark rules won't stop corruption.  Randy Cunningham, the former Republican representative from California who has retired to a prison work camp in Arizona, is dictating the congressional agenda now more than he ever did when he was in office. … Nearly every story about earmark reform, which is supposed to discourage legislators from using narrowly targeted spending to curry favor with donors and constituents, mentions Cunningham.

Congress Oinks its Way to a Spending Bill.  If character is what we do when we think nobody is looking, then congressional leaders responsible for the 3,500-plus-page Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2008 have a lot of explaining to do.  They should start by telling us why they posted their "omnibus spending bill" on the Internet only hours before voting on it and in a format that made searching the text laborious, at best.

James Madison to America:  This Is What We Warned You About.  James Madison wrote a pro-constitution editorial (known to history as Federalist 10), that described in prescient terms precisely why political factions are dangerous.  When there is liberty, he argued, some men will create more wealth than others.  Property and class factions are the result.  Members of these different economic classes are tempted to pass laws which help themselves at the expense of the overall public good.  Over time this excessive self-regard distorts the gift of reason and causes people to think and speak in ways that seem strange to the country at large.

Pork Barrel Stonewall:  The Democratic majority came to power in January promising to do a better job on earmarks.  They appeared to preserve our reforms and even take them a bit further.  I commended Democrats publicly for this action.  Unfortunately, the leadership reversed course.  Desperate to advance their agenda, they began trading earmarks for votes, dangling taxpayer-funded goodies in front of wavering members to win their support for leadership priorities.

A wink, a whisper and a pet project is funded.  As federal prosecutors try to dig deeper into the spending practices of New Jersey legislators, they might struggle to identify an elementary piece of any case — the paper trail.  Senators and Assembly members added more than $1.25 billion in last-minute spending to the state budget in the past five years, agreeing to let taxpayers fund pet projects that typically escape public disclosure or debate.

GOP will let Craig keep his earmarks.  Senate Republican leaders have backed off from pressuring Sen. Larry Craig (R-Idaho) to resign his seat, giving the beleaguered lawmaker a glimpse of hope that he may last in Congress long enough to save his career.

Flake still preaching against earmarks.  Although [Congressman Jeff] Flake did prevail against the Christmas-tree funding, he lost by wide margins on votes to cut other earmarks that would seem easy targets for budget hawks.  Take, for example, a $250,000 grant for a wine and culinary center in Prosser, Wash.  Or $100,000 for a hunting and fishing museum in Tionesta, Pa.  Or $628,843 to pay for grape genetics research at Cornell University.

Study:  For Sixth Straight Year, No One in Congress Had Voting Agenda to Cut Federal Spending.  Members of Congress voted to spend an average of more than $150 million of taxpayer funds for every hour they were in session during 2005 and 2006 — just one of many fascinating observations made in the non-partisan National Taxpayers Union Foundation's (NTUF's) latest VoteTally study.  Since 2001, not a single Senator or Representative has cast votes whose net effect would reduce the level of federal outlays.

Earmark Cover-Up:  Voters opted for change in Congress, but on earmarks it looks as if they'll only be getting more smoke and mirrors.  Democrats promised reform and instituted "a moratorium" on all earmarks until the system was cleaned up.  Now the appropriations committees are privately accepting pork-barrel requests again.

The King Of Pork — Part II.  "Earmarks" are better known as "pork."  Basically, they are paybacks to political cronies or ways to bring money to a politico's voters to make sure he or she is re-elected.  They are usually unrelated to the bill to which they are attached, but the porkers won't vote for the necessary parts of the bill unless their payback is included.  The worst part is that most pork is for unnecessary and unwanted projects.

Trimming the fat from pork-barrel politics.  The 109th Republican Congress, in one of its last acts before adjournment, responded to the demands of voters to end the pork-barrel spending madness — at least for now.  A pack of conservative Republican warriors, led by Sens. Jim DeMint of South Carolina, Tom Coburn of Oklahoma and Jeff Sessions of Alabama, blocked a giant, fat-filled omnibus spending bill that was stuffed with more than 10,000 waste-ridden, earmarked pork projects that would have cost $17 billion.



Pork products in the Emergency Economic Stabilization Act of 2008
and the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009


Recovery Act spent over 600 million dollars on climate change research.  The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA), better known as the stimulus act or stimulus package, was passed with the stated goal of helping our economy.  It was meant to create jobs and boost consumer spending.  Opponents of the nearly $1 trillion act pointed out that many of the provisions had nothing to do with helping the economy.

Bailout funds being spent in ways Congress never foresaw.  In short, what once was disparagingly referred to as bailout for Wall Street now looks like a broader bailout of all sorts of troubled businesses.  Some lawmakers and outside analysts question whether that's serving the public interest as intended — or whether it's becoming a taxpayer-financed giveaway to favored firms.

Chicago-to-Detroit high-speed rail 'positioned' to receive stimulus funds.  The Obama administration said Friday [3/20/2009] that a Chicago-to-Detroit high-speed rail plan is "well positioned" to receive federal stimulus funding, according to a state lawmaker.  Michigan House Speaker Pro Tem Pam Byrnes said the description came from Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood during a day of meetings at the White House on the stimulus plan.

Pay raise for judges tucked into bailout plan.  If the $14 billion bailout plan for U.S. automakers passes, it will help more than just Ford, Chrysler and General Motors.  Federal judges would get a pay raise, as well.  The raise — an annual cost of living adjustment, or COLA — would bring U.S. District court judges up to par with members of Congress, who will receive an almost $5,000 boost on Jan. 1.

Piggy Pols in Hog Heaven with Pork-Packed Pact.  Congressional deal-brookers yesterday slopped a mess of pork into the $700 billion financial rescue bill passed by the Senate last night — including a tax break for makers of kids' wooden arrows — in a bid to lure reluctant lawmakers into voting for the package.  Stuffed into the 451-page bill are more than $1.7 billion worth of targeted tax breaks to be doled out for a sty full of eyebrow-raising purposes over the next decade. ... Some of the pork-barrel measures buried in the financial rescue package had been contained in a bill that previously passed the Senate, but died in the House.

'I am the Speaker of the House'.  To hear her aides and associates tell it, Pelosi entered last week on her best bipartisan behavior, hoping that billions in tax cuts would be enough to lure six to 10 Republican House members to vote for the $819 billion stimulus plan.  To Republicans, it was a typical Pelosi pose  — and they accused her of ramming one of the biggest spending bills in history down their throats while scaling back President Barack Obama's tax-cut proposal to fund 40 years' worth of liberal wish-list items.

Public Transit Gets Stimulated.  Greens are lining up at the stimulus trough to fund a wish list of alternative-energy boondoggles.  But an old green favorite — public transit — is also looking to sneak a few million through the back door while the gettin' is good.  Sen. Harry Reid's Vegas-to-L.A. train has gotten the headlines, but with a staggering $8 billion in stimulus set aside for public transit, every pol with a pet rail program is looking to bring home the bacon.

Bailout bill gives tax break to NASCAR.  A tax break for NASCAR racetracks and other motor-sports facilities is among the "sweeteners" tucked inside a 450-page financial-services bailout bill to make the package more palatable to lawmakers.  The Senate-passed bill includes an array of so-called "tax extenders."

Bailout bill loops in green tech, IRS snooping.  Last week, the Bush administration proposed a three-page bill to bail out Wall Street to the tune of $700 billion.  It died in the U.S. House of Representatives earlier this week.  On Friday [10/3/2008], though, the House approved a far bigger, broader, and beefier version of the bill — which has ballooned to a remarkable 442 pages.

Tax Earmarks, Pork and Other Bailout Bill Horrors.
 -- "Wooden arrows designed for use by children"  This provision was put into the bill by Oregon Senators Smith and Wyden for the primary benefit of an Oregon arrow manufacturer … estimated to save arrow companies $200,000 annually.
 -- "Motorsports racing track facilities"  A Bloomberg article notes this "will save NASCAR track builders $109 million this year."
 -- Rum producers in Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands
 -- Investors in the District of Columbia or on Indian reservations.
The connection between that pork and freeing the credit market from the burden of sub-prime mortgages isn't quite clear.

Using panic to pass pork:  Here are some of the special-interest provisions that are now part of the Wall Street bailout legislation.  The bill started at 3 pages, grew to 106 pages, and is now 451 pages.
 •  Film and Television Productions (Sec. 502)
 •  Wooden Arrows designed for use by children (Sec. 503)
 •  6 page package of earmarks for litigants in the 1989 Exxon Valdez incident, Alaska (Sec. 504)
 •  Virgin Island and Puerto Rican Rum (Section 308)
 •  American Samoa (Sec. 309)
 •  Mine Rescue Teams (Sec. 310)
 •  Mine Safety Equipment (Sec. 311)
 •  Domestic Production Activities in Puerto Rico (Sec. 312)
 •  Indian Tribes (Sec. 314, 315)
 •  Railroads (Sec. 316)
 •  Auto Racing Tracks (317)
 •  District of Columbia (Sec. 322)
 •  Wool Research (Sec. 325)

Pork spending inside bailout bill:  Another measure inserted into the bill appears to be a bald-faced bid aimed at winning the support of Rep. Don Young (R-Alaska), who voted against the original version when it went down in flames in the House on Monday.  That provision — a $223 million package of tax benefits for fishermen and others whose livelihoods suffered as a result of the 1989 Exxon Valdez oil spill — has been the subject of fervent lobbying by Alaska's congressional delegation.

Bailout Bill Is Rife With Tasty Green Pork.  Clean technology companies of all sorts are cheering the green pork that legislators added to the $700-billion Wall Street bailout bill that passed Congress last week.  Extensions to tax credits for wind and solar power producers finally got their long-awaited passage, but a slate of more obscure provisions could help drive new interest in a diverse array of green businesses, including geothermal, solar thermal, tidal, and wave power, plug-in hybrid cars, and energy efficiency aids.

A Wonderful, Magical Green Bailout.  Much has been said and written in recent days about how "The liberal uses crises, real or manufactured, to expand the power of government at the expense of the individual and private property."  The current financial situation is surely no different.  What is striking is how brazen are the attempts we are seeing to attach pet schemes to the bailout's coattails.

Spoonful of pork may help bitter economic pill go down.  The Senate's financial rescue plan may have a better chance of passage because it's padded with pork that may be tasty enough to get reluctant House members to bite.  Most of the $110 billion in additions, such as a tax credit for research and development and an increase in insurance for bank accounts, would have broad economic impact.  The benefits of others, though, may not be so evident to most taxpayers.

Your TARP Money at work — Pork for Barney Frank.  We have been told we are in a horrible financial crisis that might bring down the banking system in America. ... Well, I've got good news and bad news.  The good news is that we have finally tracked down where some of the money is actually being spent.  The bad news is that Barney Frank who is playing politics as usual, porked $12 million in an earmark to some banking cronies in his home district.

OneUnited sought Frank's help for TARP funds.  Boston's OneUnited Bank received $12 million in federal rescue funds last month just weeks after regulators issued a cease-and-desist order to overhaul some of its lending and executive compensation practices. ... The Wall Street Journal reported Thursday that the tiny bank received the bailout money after gaining influential support from Massachusetts congressman and House Financial Services Committee Chairman Barney Frank.

Barney Frank helped controversial black-owned bank gain money.  U.S. Rep. Barney Frank yesterday [1/22/2009] defended helping Boston's OneUnited Bank land $12 million in federal funding, despite regulatory complaints its executives were getting "excessive" pay and even a Porshe for its CEO.  Frank, head of the powerful House Financial Services Committee, acknowledged that last fall he inserted into the government's $700 billion Troubled Assets Relief Program bill specific language to help OneUnited, New England's only black-owned bank.

Barney Frank's hypocrisy:  Ah, the dirty little secret is out.  That $700 billion TARP (Troubled Asset Relief Program) bill was in part simply a variation on congressional pork — except this time the recipients were banks with friends in high places.  One of those powerful friends was Rep. Barney Frank (D-Newton), chairman of the House Financial Services Committee.

DOE Inspector General: Over 100 Criminal Investigations Of Obama Stimulus Spending.  The Inspector General of the Energy Department, Gregory Friedman, has been investigating the fate of the $35.2 billion his department received from the Obama "stimulus" disaster in 2009. ... You'll be delighted to know that more than a hundred criminal investigations were launched into Energy's handling of its mere 4% of the Obama stimulus.  Friedman says "these involve various schemes, including the submission of false information, claims for unallowable or unauthorized expenses, and other improper uses of Recovery Act funds."  Five criminal prosecutions have resulted, and over $2.3 million in stolen "stimulus" loot has been recovered.

H.R.1: The House's Pig Pen.  The pork-laden American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 passed by Democrats in the House is a huge pig pen.  [Excerpts from the items requested by the Department of Agriculture:]  $5,838,000,000 — Rural Development Programs, Rural Community Advancement Program; $22,129,000,000 — Rural Housing Service, Rural Housing Insurance Fund Program Account; $2,825,000,000 — Rural Utilities Service, Distance Learning, Telemedicine, and Broadband Program; ...

Where do the stimulus horror stories end?  The Obama administration handed $7.2 million to four Oregon logging companies to hire loggers in a severely depressed industry.  But according to a Department of Labor inspector general report, only two of jobs thus funded went to U.S. citizens:  "Only two Oregonians were listed on the employer recruitment reports, indicating that workers in Oregon were likely unaware these job opportunities were available.  In fact, although 146 U.S. workers were contacted by the three employers regarding possible employment, none were hired.  Instead, 254 foreign workers were brought into the country for these jobs."

Obama Stimulus Spending Includes Rental Cars, Outhouses, and 'Sediment Removal'.  Among the many things that have been built with stimulus money so far are:
  - $971,711.42 to "replace pond liners" at the Garrison Dam National Fish Hatchery in Cole Harbor, N.D.
  - $193,077 for a "double-vault toilet building" at the Hoyer Campground in Spokane, Wash.
  - $487,944 for "toilet buildings and vaults" in the Pike and San Isabel National Forests
  - $254,000 for "pre-fabricated restroom facilities" in Atlanta, Ga.
  - $17,110 in hotel bills at a Marriott Hotel in Arlington, Va., for the Employment Standards Administration's annual "Prevailing Wage Conference."

Stimulus Goes to the Dogs.  Yep.  That's a state-of-the-art dog park, paid for with stimulus money.

Republicans:  Stimulus Money Being Wasted.  Among the projects singled out for criticism in the report:
  ·  A half million dollars for new windows at the Mt. St. Helens visitors center in Amboy, Washington. The building has been closed since 2007 and there are no immediate plans to reopen it.
  ·  $6.9 million dollars for repairs to an 1846 brick fort marooned on Dry Tortuga at the end the Florida Keys. Few people can visit this remote national park unless they hire a seaplane or take a four-hour round-trip boat ride.
  ·  Creating a museum in an abandoned train station in Glasboro, NJ, at the cost of $1.2 million.
  ·  $2 million dollars to send researchers from the California Academy of Sciences to islands in the Indian Ocean to study exotic ants.

More On The Democrat "Stimulus" Plan:  Here are just a few of the programs and projects that have been included in the House Democrats' proposal:
$650 million for digital TV coupons.
$6 billion for colleges/universities — many which have billion dollar endowments.
$166 billion in direct aid to states — many of which have failed to budget wisely.
$50 million in funding for the National Endowment of the Arts.
$44 million for repairs to U.S. Department of Agriculture headquarters.
$200 million for the National Mall, including grass planting.
$400 million for "National Treasures."

$800 billion, and something for everyone.  $99,600 for doorbells in Laurel, Miss.  This will create two jobs, not to mention making it easier for the Avon Lady. ...
$500,000 for a dog park in Chula Vista, Calif.  There are many dog parks on this list. ...
$3,450,000 to "rehabilitate" sidewalks in Alexandria, Va.  There's a rehab center for sidewalks?  This will create 46 jobs.

Stimulus Plan Is Full Of Pork Projects.
 ·  $600 million to buy hybrid vehicles for federal employees.
 ·  $150 million for Smithsonian museum facilities.
 ·  $75 million for "smoking cessation activities."
 ·  $200 million for public computer centers at community colleges.
 ·  $10 million to inspect canals in urban areas.
 ·  $6 billion to turn federal buildings into "green" buildings.
 ·  $1.2 billion for "youth activities," including youth summer job programs.
 ·  $500 million for building and repairing National Institutes of Health facilities in Bethesda, Maryland.
 ·  $160 million for "paid volunteers" at the Corporation for National and Community Service.
 ·  $850 million for Amtrak.
 ·  $100 million for reducing the hazard of lead-based paint.
 ·  $110 million to the Farm Service Agency to upgrade computer systems.
 ·  $200 million in funding for the lease of alternative energy vehicles for use on military installations.

Obama package focuses mainly on alternative power sources.  "There's not a lot of oil and gas" money in the stimulus bill, said Rep. Gene Green, D-Houston.  Instead, President Barack Obama's package focuses most of its attention, and an expected $54 billion or more in energy spending, on renewable and alternative power sources, not on the fossil fuel production of Houston's major oil companies.

2.8 Million porkulus dollars down the toilet.  At least 2.8 million dollars of porkulus money will be flushed down the drain — literally.  In remote areas of one of the nation's least populous states, New Mexico, the Obama administration has decided to spend almost three million of your tax dollars "repairing and replacing aging toilets in three of the state's national forests," some toilets "as old as 20 years." ... Doing the math, that would equate to something like $125,000-$150,000 per restroom.

$300 Million for Golf carts/Hybrids in Stimulus.  $300 million has been allocated in the stimulus bill for modern golf carts and other forms of environmentally friendly modes of transportation.  The Democrats thought they could fool you by renaming the money earmarked for golf carts in the stimulus bill as paying for "neighborhood electric vehicles" and "low speed motor vehicles."

The "Tiny" Trillion-Dollar Turbaconducken You Don't Care About.  [Scroll down]  According to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's fantasyland "fact sheet" released early Thursday afternoon, [2/12/2009] "there are no earmarks or pet projects" in the final package.  Trust her no further than you could throw a pot-bellied pig.  Despite the self-delusional declarations of Pelosi and President Obama that no pet projects exist, Hill staffers spilled the beans on several new set-asides tacked onto the bill.

The Buck Always Stops with Taxpayers.  Since Obama took office a short three weeks ago, he has proposed a second $1 trillion "stimulus package," which reads like the greatest pork orgy in human history, and makes FDR's New Deal look like a Raw Deal for Americans permanently affixed to the public teat.  [It includes]
$150 million for emergency food assistance
$100 million for "Education and Human Resources"
$500 million for repair and replacement of schools, jails, roads, bridges, housing and more for Bureau of Indian Affairs
$8.4 billion in "State and Tribal Assistance Grants"
$550 million for Indian Health facilities
$1.2 billion in grants to states for youth summer jobs programs and other activities
$50 million in grants to fund "arts projects and activities"
$1 billion for Low-Income Home Energy Assistance
$2 billion in Child Care and Development Block Grants for states
$1 billion for Head Start programs
$1.1 billion for Early Head Start programs
$5.5 billion in targeted education grants
$160 million for AmeriCorps grants
$500 million in Native American Housing Block Grants
$1.5 billion in homeless prevention activities

So far, it's been Obamateur Hour.  The hideous drooling blob of toxic pustules dignified as the "stimulus" bill is something the incoming Obama had months to prepare for and oodles of bipartisan goodwill and fawning press coverage to waft him along on.  Instead, he chose to outsource it to Nancy Pelosi, Harry Reid, Barney Frank and the rest of the congressional pork barons.  So that, too, is not an "event" but merely, like his Cabinet picks, a matter of judgment and executive competence.

Obama's pork barrel is open — and it is stinking.  Stimulus is one of those neutral, unexceptional words that is suddenly appropriated by politicians and debauched, so that ever after it will have connotations that are sinister, ironic and sleaze-ridden.  Barack Obama's "stimulus" plan will be long remembered as the occasion when political euphemism triggered economic disaster.  There is no terminology available to express adequately the appalling irresponsibility of this naked political banditry.  To have squandered a fraction of the near-$1 trillion cost of Obama's pork barrel in days of prosperity would have been more than reprehensible; to do so at a time of financial crisis is unforgivable.

Newsflash:  They don't want a "stimulus".  There is a principle called "Occam's Razor," which has been interpreted to mean that the simplest of two competing theories is usually the right one.  This comes to mind as President Obama and the flying monkey minions in Congress scramble frantically to ram a trillion dollar "stimulus" bill down American's throats with no debate, no discussion, and almost no understanding of what is in it.  And what is in it makes it abundantly clear that this is no "stimulus."  It is riddled with hundreds of billions of dollars in pork, payoffs to special interest groups, massive increases in welfare spending, new and more bloated federal bureaucracies.  What's worse, we don't actually have the money for any of it.  It will have to be taxed, printed, and borrowed, all of which will make our economic situation worse, not better.

Handout sure to stimulate a lot of scams.  This so-called economic stimulus act is going to spur more crime than anything Congress has passed since the Volstead Act. ... Take the weatherization plan. ... Low-income homeowners will soon be getting grants of up to $5,000 to weatherize their homes and thus reduce our dependence on foreign oil, wink wink, nudge, nudge.  Soon "contractors" will be setting up shop in the inner cities, recruiting marks, doing the paperwork that allows them to apply for a grant.  The first $500 will go to the program supervisor, to get him to sign off on a patently fraudulent project.  Then the homeowner will get $1,000 cash, to keep his mouth shut when nothing is actually done.  And finally, another $500 cash will be duked to the inspector who signs off on the, ahem, work.  Profit per job:  $3,000.  You don't think this will happen?  It already does — every time there's a disaster.

States, Nonprofits Jockey for 'Weatherizing' Funds.  President Barack Obama wants to make a million houses a year more energy efficient as part of his goal to create thousands of "green" jobs and reduce U.S. carbon emissions.  But the administration's push to expand an obscure antipoverty program into a centerpiece of that initiative is stirring debate over the best way to use a flash flood of federal stimulus dollars.

Update:

Energy Dept. weatherization programs rife with waste, fraud.  In total, the stimulus program allocated about $5 billion to the cause of home weatherization, outfitting homes with the latest green technology in order to reduce energy prices.  It's now three years later, and it appears the weatherization program has gone down a road of waste, fraud and abuse.

No Consensus on "Stimulus" Bill.  [Obama] said:  "What do you think a stimulus is?  It's spending.  That's the whole point!"  With all due respect, sir, that's not the whole point.  Even the "nonpartisan" Congressional Budget Office and your fellow Keynesians concede that not all spending has the same stimulative effect.  But we know you know that, sir, and that you are not about to let this "crisis go to waste."  You have loaded up this bill with your party's pent-up wish list of pet pork projects and political payoffs:  $345 million for Agriculture Department computers, $650 million for TV converter boxes, $15 billion for college scholarships, and untold, obscene amounts for ACORN-like "community organizing".

Pelosi's mouse slated for $30M slice of cheese.  A tiny mouse with the longtime backing of a political giant may soon reap the benefits of the economic-stimulus package.  Lawmakers and administration officials divulged Wednesday that the $789 billion economic stimulus bill being finalized behind closed doors in Congress includes $30 million for wetlands restoration that the Obama administration intends to spend in the San Francisco Bay Area to protect, among other things, the endangered salt marsh harvest mouse.

Stimulus has $30M to save Pelosi's harvest mouse.  Other spending questioned by Republicans, and not considered on the chopping block, are $275 million for flood prevention, $200 million for public computer centers at community colleges and libraries and $650 million for the digital TV converter box coupons.  The list goes on:  $1 billion for administrative costs and construction of National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration office buildings, $100 million for constructing U.S. Marshals office buildings, and $1.3 billion for NASA, including $450 million tagged for science.  Then there is the $300 million for hybrid and electric cars for the federal government, which include golf carts for federal workers to tool around in.

'Historic' Stimulus Is Egregious Waste.  Consider what's in this monster: It overflows with pork — $2 billion to ACORN, an anti-capitalist "community" group that's been accused of voter registration fraud; $30 million to restore wetlands and save the endangered salt marsh harvest mouse in the San Francisco Bay Area (a Nancy Pelosi project); another $1 billion for a Prevention and Wellness Fund for education programs on sexually transmitted diseases.  Tens of billions will be spent on high-speed rail lines, which will be of little practical use but of great political service, and projects to expand high-speed Internet access in rural areas.

Stimulus Bill Contains Many Items That May Not Boost Economy.  Democratic leaders are hailing the economic stimulus bill as a way to "invest quickly into the economy," but according to a Wall Street Journal estimate, only about 12 cents of every dollar will actually go to "something that can plausibly be considered a growth stimulus."

Congress $hopping Carts.  The federal government is preparing to spend millions to purchase a fleet of small electric vehicles that critics compare to golf carts.  The $838 billion economic stimulus bill that passed the Senate yesterday contains $300 million for the government to purchase a fleet of "green" cars.  But the money won't just go to buy fuel-efficient hybrids such as the Ford Escape or Chevy Volt.  The cash also can be used to purchase "neighborhood electric vehicles."

Reid and Pelosi choreograph the stimulus con.  [Harry] Reid offered this interesting observation during debate about the content of the bill, saying "the main direction is tax cuts, people are really needful of money.  About 58% of it is job creating."  So if the purpose of the stimulus bill is to spark economic growth and job creation, why not get rid of the 42 percent the Senate Majority Leader admits isn't about those two goals?  The reason, of course, is that the Democratic majorities under Reid and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi are hell-bent to serve up a porkfest of unmatched magnitude for their favored special interests.

Stimulus bill funds ACORN despite its history of corruption.  A multi-million dollar liberal non-profit activist conglomerate reportedly under federal investigation may get a big piece of the economic recovery stimulus pie now under consideration by Congress.  It's the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now —the infamous ACORN.  That's right.  ACORN, the activist group that has been implicated in voter fraud and registration deception in at least 14 states may get the financial bailout it needs to pull off another round of schemes in the next election season.

Stimulus Bill to Help Hollywood.  Finally, Democrats have found a tax-cut they can support — one that puts even more money in the pockets of Barbara Streisand, Michael Moore and the rest of their pals in Tinseltown.  Big Hollywood opened its hearts — and fat wallets — to get President Obama into the White House and give Democrats both chambers of Congress and now it's time to return the love.

GOP Yells 'Cut!' To Boo$t For H'Wood.  Senate Republicans yesterday stripped a special $246 million tax break for Hollywood producers from President Obama's stimulus package.  This isn't stimulus.  This is a gift," said Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.), who wrote the amendment to strike out the giveaway for some of the Democrats' most generous political supporters.

Senate cuts movie-industry tax break from stimulus bill.  The motion picture industry's record-setting month at the box office may have cost it $246 million in tax breaks, as the Senate on Tuesday stripped a provision from the economic stimulus bill that critics derided as an unnecessary Hollywood bailout.  In denying the tax breaks on new film projects, senators cited the $1.03-billion haul from movie ticket sales in January, a 19% year-over-year increase, according to industry tracking firm Media by Numbers.

Chicago Mayor Seeking Bailout Money for $15 Billion Airport Albatross.  Now that Governor Rod Blagojevich is, politically speaking, pushing up daises, attention in the Land of Lincoln is going to be drawn to efforts by Chicago's Mayor Daley to latch on to a portion of the coming "stimulus package" in order to fund his dream of expanding O'Hare Airport.

Stimulus Brings Out City Wish Lists:  Neon for Vegas, Harleys for Shreveport.  Las Vegas, which by some accounts already glitters, wants $2 million for neon signs.  Boynton Beach, Fla., is looking for $4.5 million for an "eco park" featuring butterfly gardens and gopher tortoises.  And Chula Vista, Calif., would like $500,000 to create a place for dogs to run off the leash.  These are among 18,750 projects listed in "Ready to Go," the U.S. Conference of Mayors' wish list for funding from the stimulus bill moving through Congress.

A Sham "Stimulus".  Every so often Congress gets hold of a bill that simply must pass.  A defense spending bill, say, during war time.  So lawmakers exploit the situation, tacking on pet projects that have nothing to do with defense.  This year's must-pass bill is a "stimulus" measure.  True to form, Congress has loaded the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 with hundreds of billions in wasteful spending.

STD, no-smoking cash still in bill.  Senate Democrats, mocked over trying to stimulate the economy with $475 million to fight smoking and sexually transmitted diseases, removed the programs from the economic recovery package on Tuesday.  But the money remains.  And, yes, it can still be tapped to help smokers quit and to prevent the spread of STDs.

$825 Billion Stimulus Plan to Pay for New Windows, Day Care, Cable TV.  The $825 billion government stimulus package unveiled by congressional Democrats on Friday [1/16/2009] contains billions of dollars in government spending supposedly designed to create jobs and stimulate the economy.  However, the package also contains a host of items congressional leaders rarely mention, including hundreds of millions of dollars for cable TV boxes, new windows in government housing, and day care, among numerous other economic stimulus programs.

And Now, Back To Our Regularly Scheduled Spending Orgy.  [Scroll down]  The other incontrovertible truth about this massive wealth transfer is that Washington cannot stop the inevitable lard-up.  The original concept of spending on "roads and bridges" has morphed into spending on anything and everything that moves or can be moved.  Every moocher in the marketplace wants his grubby paws on the money.  And if his or her provision isn't already written into the Democrats' legislation, it will get slipped in under the cover of night.

Lobbyists skirt Obama's earmark ban.  President Barack Obama's ban on earmarks in the $825 billion economic stimulus bill doesn't mean interest groups, lobbyists and lawmakers won't be able to funnel money to pet projects.  They're just working around it — and perhaps inadvertently making the process more secretive.

Republicans Object to Stimulus Dollars for ACORN.  Republican lawmakers are raising concerns that ACORN, the low-income advocacy group under investigation for voter registration fraud, could be eligible for billions in aid from the economic stimulus proposal working its way through the House.  House Republican Leader John Boehner issued a statement over the weekend noting that the stimulus bill wending its way through Congress provides $4.19 billion for "neighborhood stabilization activities."

If it walks like a duck:  Remember the group ACORN?  These are the good folks who, in the name of community activism, registered dead people to vote, registered the same person multiple times and even registered Mickey Mouse to vote.  They have run afoul of the law in multiple states for their "community activities".  Put simply, this is an organization that is doing its best to destroy the electoral process with bogus voting — and now they want us to pay for it!  The new stimulus plan wants to reward these fine folks and help them grow their activities.

ACORN's Stimulus.  With a new president ensconced in the White House, it's time to roll out the goodies for loyal supporters in left-of-center political advocacy groups such as ACORN.  The latest economic stimulus bill promises to do just that by providing a huge bailout — up to $5.2 billion in taxpayer funds — for some of the same liberal groups that helped get Barack Obama elected.  The three relevant fiscal provisions are buried deep in the $825 billion monstrosity known as the proposed "American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009."

Obama's Bill Hands ACORN $5.2 Billion Bailout.  A rising chorus of GOP leaders are protesting that the blockbuster Democratic stimulus package would provide up to a whopping $5.2 billion for ACORN, the left-leaning nonprofit group under federal investigation for massive voter fraud.  Most of the money is secreted away under an item in the now $836 billion package titled "Neighborhood Stabilization Programs."

Good Morning, Suckers.  Barack Obama and Congressional Democrats are playing the voters for fools with the so-called stimulus package.  The massive $825 billion package is not even targeted on programs to stimulate the economy.  Instead, it is laced with runaway government spending for increased welfare, overgrown bureaucracy, pork, political payoffs, and other waste.

A 40-Year Wish List:  You won't believe what's in that stimulus bill.  We've looked it over, and even we can't quite believe it.  There's $1 billion for Amtrak, the federal railroad that hasn't turned a profit in 40 years; $2 billion for child-care subsidies; $50 million for that great engine of job creation, the National Endowment for the Arts; $400 million for global-warming research and another $2.4 billion for carbon-capture demonstration projects.

Republicans Won.  In a stunning turn of events, House Republicans won a critical symbolic victory yesterday [1/28/2009] in uniting against Obama's $1 trillion phony economic "stimulus" plan.  Republicans did the right thing yesterday.  Even ABC's Good Morning America, normally a hotbed of support for Democrats and Democrat causes, faithfully reported that the bill seemed little more than a huge serving of pork.

Obama's First Fumble.  Last week America blew a raspberry at the House "stimulus" bill.  The Wall Street Journal edit page reckoned it out at about 12 percent stimulus.  What about the other 88 percent?  It was mostly the usual liberal special-interest spending, 40 years of pent-up pet projects.

Dr. Coburn Releases Stimulus Oversight Report.  Ten examples of wasteful stimulus projects in the report include:
[#7] $1.15 million for installation of a new guard rail for the non-existent Optima Lake in Oklahoma.
[#8] Nearly $10 million to renovate an abandoned train station that hasn't been used in 30 years.
[#9] 10,000 dead people get stimulus checks, but the Social Security Administration blames a tough deadline.

Good News: Stimulus Money Grounds Flying Turtles!  This is the kind of quote we jaded waste warriors wait for.  Today's AP has a story about the fact that Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) released a preliminary report on how states are using stimulus money.  In his 45-page report, ... Dr. Coburn mentions $3.4 million that was used by the Florida Department of Transportation to construct an "eco-passage" on I 27, which is really a little tunnel under a road for wildlife trying to cross, especially turtles which, as you can imagine, just don't have the steam to get across the roads without being crushed.  It gets so much better, though, because in this "say-anything" culture, it isn't enough to defend this ridiculous use of federal tax dollars by just saying it saves turtles (and by the way, wasn't the goal of the $787 billion "stim" bill to save jobs?).

Flying Turtles, part two.  My earlier post on how $3.4 million in "stimulus" money is being used by the Florida State Department of Transportation to build an eco-passage for turtles elicited a humorous response from a "shell-shocked" Florida resident, Russell Price, a self-employed businessman in real estate development and concerned taxpayer.

Is Obama laundering federal money to GE through Michigan?  General Electric is getting yet more taxpayer money, possibly laundered federal money, to subsidize its business.  A GE press release announced that the state of Michigan will provide GE with $60 million to build a $100 million "technology & software center" — what used to be known as an "office building."  While the source of the Michigan subsidy could be Michigan taxpayers, given how strapped the state is from auto industry losses, it's quite possible that the Obama administration is funneling U.S. taxpayer stimulus money through Michigan to GE.

No second stimulus, please.  Only $56.3 billion of the $787 billion stimulus has been paid out, yet the push is coming to persuade us to spend more money on top of money that hasn't even been spent yet.  By now it's clear that what little of the taxpayer-funded stimulus has been spent has created pork, not jobs.  That's why news reports keep coming about things like stimulus projects placing rails around non-existent lakes and redecorating old theaters.

Stimu-loss for words.  The feds have spent millions in stimulus cash on "silly" projects, including left-leaning puppet shows, a martini bar, and a study of Viking civic life, according to a devastating new report.

Report says Mark Penn got a $2.8 million stimulus contract.  According to its October 2009 quarterly finance report, the Hillary Clinton for President campaign has one outstanding debt:  $995,500 owed to Penn, Schoen & Berland Associates, LLC, which is run by Democratic pollster Mark Penn.  According to The Hill today, the same firm received a $2.8 million stimulus subcontract "for media services and outreach to help prepare 'unready' households for the DTV transition" — a contract that Republican Senators contend was "pure waste."

Mark Penn's two firms got $6 million from stimulus for PR campaign.  Nearly $6 million in stimulus money was paid to two firms run by Mark Penn, Hillary Clinton's pollster in 2008.  Federal records show that $5.97 million from the $787 billion stimulus helped preserve three jobs at Burson-Marsteller, the global public-relations and communications firm headed by Penn.

Beltway Christmas:  Cash for Corruptocrats.  According to a new study by the Mercatus Center at George Mason University, Democratic districts have raked in nearly twice as much porkulus money as GOP districts — without regard to the actual economic suffering and job loss in those districts. ... [including] Barack Obama's home state of Illinois, which reaped the single biggest earmark in the porkulus bill — $1 billion for the dubious FutureGen near-zero emissions "clean coal" plant earmark championed by disgraced Democrat and former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich and Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin.

Merry Christmas from the IRS:  Another Year of Government Dysfunction.  The internal watchdogs at the Treasury have just published a report showing that it is almost impossible to verify eligibility for the special interest tax breaks in the so-called stimulus. ... To be fair, even a competent government agency might have trouble making a bad law work, and the $787 [sic] boondoggle was rushed through the legislative process with very little — if any — attention paid to anything other than funneling other people's money to special interest groups.

Your stimulus dollars, not really at work in New Hampshire.  At least the Alaska "Bridge to Nowhere" would have crossed a body of water.  Not so with this stimulus project.

How Wooden Arrows Will Save America:  Those of us deep in the American hinterlands may be excused for questioning the wooden arrow excise-tax exemption and all the manifold other bizarre insertions into the federal bailout bill.  Of course it seems to us very strange that, for a bill supposed to ward off financial collapse so imminent as to be mere hours away, our congressmen are tripping over themselves to stuff it with all kinds of trivial earmarks, special favors and graft.  They don't seem to be acting like people desperate to avert a crisis.  They seem to be acting like contestants in a game show trying to grab all the dollars before time runs out.

Top 10 Tax Sweeteners in the Bailout Bill:  [For example] Sec. 602. Transfer to abandoned mine reclamation fund:  Transfers interest earned on money in the abandoned mine reclamation fund to the United Mine Workers of America Combined Benefit Fund, which helps pay health benefits for retired miners and their dependents who worked under collective bargaining agreements that promised lifetime health-care benefits.

Porking Up the Rescue Bill:  But at least one [of the "sweeteners"] was huge — a $3.5 billion measure intended to force health-insurance companies to cover mental illness as they do physical sickness.  Now, most of this wasn't spending — but, instead, targeted tax relief (or social policy disguised as such).  And many weren't even part of the rescue bill itself.  Rather they were included in a tax-relief measure that passed the Senate, 93-2, weeks ago, and which has been attached to the larger measure.  Things are getting out of hand.

Read the bailout bill for yourself.

Vegas, Midwest seek the $8 billion for fast trains.  The Republicans attacking President Barack Obama's economic stimulus package point to a project they dub the "Sin Express" — a high speed rail link between Anaheim, Calif., site of Disneyland, and Las Vegas.

This is an original compilation, Copyright © 2013 by Andrew K. Dart



Representative John Murtha (D-PA)

Congress cowers before reigning King of Pork.  In a Congress filled with fiefdoms of special-interest spending, one man is king — Rep. John Murtha, D-Pa.  In 2008, Murtha earmarked $192 million for his district.  Thus far this year, he's only managed to earmark $134 million.  But give him time.  The jewel in Murtha's pork crown is the airport in Johnstown, Pa.  That would be the John Murtha Johnstown-Cambria County Airport.

Earmarks and Congressional Corruption:  Roll Call, a Capitol Hill newspaper, recently reported that every private entity [Representative John] Murtha (D-PA) favored with an earmark in this year's defense bill has given money to his campaign in the last two years.  Political Action Committees (PACs) and employees of the 26 groups in Murtha's district that received Federal monies have contributed $413,250 to him, $100,750 of which was donated in the two weeks leading up to March 16, the original deadline for lawmakers to file their earmark requests.  Murtha rewarded these groups for their political contributions by allocating $114.5 million to them.

The Pork King Keeps His Crown.  The new earmark disclosure rules put into effect by Congress confirm the pre-eminence of Representative John Murtha at procuring eye-popping chunks of pork for contractors he helped put in business in Johnstown, Pa.  The Pennsylvania Democrat, a power player on defense appropriations, exudes pride, not embarrassment, for delivering hundreds of millions of dollars in largesse to district beneficiaries.  They, in turn, requite with hundreds of thousands of dollars in campaign donations.  Mr. Murtha led all House members this year, securing $162 million in district favors, according to the watchdog group Taxpayers for Common Sense.

Meet Congress' "King Of Pork".  His most notorious project is the government agency that the government doesn't want:  The National Drug Intelligence Center, also in Murtha's hometown.  Every year the White House tries to close it because they already have a Drug Intelligence Center.  But Murtha keeps the duplicate open using half-a-billion dollars in earmarks.  "You want to drive a stake through its heart but you can't," says Leslie Paige for Citizens Against Government Waste.  "Because Congressman Murtha continues to put this in."  Murtha's power plays are no surprise to those who've followed him since the 1980s bribery scandal known as ABSCAM.

How Lawmaker Rebuilt Hometown on Earmarks.  If John Murtha were a businessman, he'd be the biggest employer in this town.  The powerful U.S. congressman has used his clout on Capitol Hill to create thousands of jobs and steer billions of dollars in federal spending to help his hometown in western Pennsylvania recover from devastating floods and the flight of its steelmakers.  More is on the way.  In the massive 2008 military-spending bill now before Congress — which could go to a House-Senate conference as soon as Thursday — Mr. Murtha has steered more taxpayer funds to his congressional district than any other member.

The Murtha Rules:  A simple system to win federal money.  Congressman John Murtha of Pennsylvania has long been one of the biggest porkbarrelers in Congress, and as the chairman of the House Appropriations Defense Subcommittee he is also one of the biggest recipients of lobbyists' campaign donations.  Which is no coincidence.  When the Democrats took control of Congress in 2006, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi pledged that porkbarreling would be severely curtailed.  But that hasn't come to pass?no surprise given that old-time hacks like Murtha hold such powerful positions on the Appropriations committees.

Rep. Murtha Dogged By Questions About Earmark Use.  [Murtha, Visclosky and Moran] received huge amounts of political donations from PMA lobbyists and their clients.  Murtha has collected $2.37 million in campaign contributions from PMA's lobbyists and the companies it has represented since 1989, according to the Center for Responsive Politics, which tracks political money.  Visclosky has collected $1.36 million; Moran, $997,348.  Those political donations have followed a distinct pattern:  The giving is especially heavy in March, which is prime time for submitting written earmark requests.

Murtha's Nephew Got Millions in Gov't Contracts.  A company owned by a nephew of Rep. John Murtha received $4 million from the Defense Department last year for engineering and warehouse services, The Washington Post reported Tuesday.  Murtha, D-Pa., is chairman of the House Appropriations defense subcommittee.

All in the family.  Powerful Democratic Rep. John P. Murtha of Pennsylvania has long treated defense contractors as if they are a part of a large dysfunctional family he controls.  We are less than surprised he is patriarch of a clan that appears to survive by feeding on the government teat.  The Washington Post reported Tuesday that in 2008, nearly $4 million in no-bid Pentagon logistics contracts went to a Glen Burnie, Md., business owned by Robert C. Murtha Jr., nephew of the House Defense Appropriations Subcommittee chairman.

Of shoddy combat helmets and Democratic corruption.  This story may or may not become big news.  But it certainly says a lot about the earmark culture on Capitol Hill.  A contractor, beneficiary of an earmark that the lobbyist group with close ties to John Murtha got for them, produced combat helmets so shoddy that the military has recalled 34,000 of them.

Pelosi's Pork Problem.  Picture a freight train roaring down the tracks.  Picture House Speaker Nancy Pelosi positioning her party on the rails.  Picture a growing stream of nervous souls diving for the weeds.  Picture all this, and you've got a sense of the Democrats' earmark-corruption problem.  This particular choo-choo has the name John Murtha emblazoned on the side, and with each chug is proving that those who ignore history are doomed to repeat it.

Murtha's Earmarks Keep Airport Aloft.  The John Murtha airport sits on a windy mountain two hours east of Pittsburgh, a 650-acre expanse of smooth tarmac, spacious buildings, a helicopter hangar and a National Guard training center.  Inside the terminal on a recent weekday, four passengers lined up to board a flight, outnumbered by seven security staff members and supervisors, all suited up in gloves and uniforms to screen six pieces of luggage.

Murtha Airport Got Military Upgrades.  At the behest of Rep. John P. Murtha (D), chairman of the House defense appropriations subcommittee, the Pentagon has spent about $30 million equipping the little-used airport named for him so it can handle behemoth military aircraft and store combat equipment for rapid deployment to foreign battlefields.  Most of the improvements, funded through appropriations approved by Murtha's panel, have not been used for their intended purpose.  The projects delighted National Guard and reserve units based in Murtha's Pennsylvania district that have seen budget cuts, but critics charge that the expenditures have been a waste of taxpayer dollars.

John Murtha's Airport for No One.  You might wonder how the region ever had the air traffic demand to justify such a facility.  It didn't.  But it is located in the district of one of Congress's most unapologetic earmarkers:  Democrat John Murtha.  In 20 years, Mr. Murtha has successfully doled out more than $150 million of federal payments to what is now being called the airport for no one.

Dems retain funding for Murtha airport.  The Senate has rejected an amendment that would have killed funding for the John Murtha Airport in Johnstown, Pa., turning back an effort by fiscal conservatives to yank earmarks from a largely deserted airport named after a controversial lawmaker.

Rep. Murtha's earmarks lead to fewer jobs than promised.  In 2005, Rep. John P. Murtha announced here that a technology firm was moving into an abandoned plate glass factory.  Best of all, he promised, the new firm would generate 140 jobs. ... The firm peaked at 10 employees and then folded in early 2008.  Once its Murtha-engineered Navy contracts ended, the company could not survive.

Judicial Watch Announces List of Washington's "Ten Most Wanted Corrupt Politicians" for 2009.  [Including] Rep. John Murtha (D-PA) and the rest of the PMA Seven:  Rep. John Murtha made headlines in 2009 for all the wrong reasons.  The Pennsylvania congressman is under federal investigation for his corrupt relationship with the now-defunct defense lobbyist PMA Group.  PMA, founded by a former Murtha associate, has been the congressman's largest campaign contributor.  Since 2002, Murtha has raised $1.7 million from PMA and its clients.  And what did PMA and its clients receive from Murtha in return for their generosity?  Earmarks — tens of millions of dollars in earmarks.

Murtha's America.  [Scroll down]  Another company to receive Murtha earmark help was Caracal, Inc.  To great hoopla, Murtha delivered the ton of tax dollars to Caracal, claiming, "Today's ribbon-cutting ceremony is yet another indication that our investment in this region's economic revitalization is paying off."  After receiving more than $150 million in taxpayer help, the company went under.  That's zero sustainable jobs.  With Caracal out of business, the operative question might be, "'Paying off' for whom?"

Murtha-tied Company Wins Sole-Source Vaccine Contract.  Several months ago we warned that Tara O'Toole who recently became Under Secretary for the Science and Technology Directorate at the Department of Homeland Security would reward her friends resulting in millions of dollars in gifts to John Murtha cronies who supported her nomination.  And it now appears the Murtha/O'Toole favor factory has begun production.



Budget-cutting Governor Paterson gets rug pulled out from under him.  Gov. Paterson has asked for $2 billion in budget cuts, but he's not cutting the rugs.  The Paterson administration has plunked down $37,741 for rugs at the governor's mansion in Albany, including $21,000 spent on a pair of "Turkish patchwork" rugs at a Manhattan carpet dealer. ... The administration bought the Turkish rugs — a 10-by-15-foot rug and a 10-foot round rug — in July from Stark Carpet on Third Ave.  State records show Stark Carpet has donated $8,000 to former Gov. Eliot Spitzer's campaign organization since 2003.  The organization became known as Spitzer-Paterson 2006 after Paterson became Spitzer's running mate.

Pork becomes 'earmarks' — 11,000 of them.  [Scroll down]  The law forbids using federal grants to lobby, but lobbyists do charge clients fees that often equal 10 percent of the largesse.  Earmark winners and their lobbyists often reward their benefactors with campaign contributions.  For many members of Congress, especially those on the Appropriations committees, such as Rep. John Murtha, D-Pa., campaign donations from earmark-seeking lobbyists and corporate executives are the core of their fundraising.

Murtha's Defense Earmarks Draw Questions.  Spring in Washington is "earmark season" — a busy time for Congressman John Murtha.  "That's my business," Murtha said.  "I've been in it for 35 years."  As head of a powerful Defense committee, Murtha controls hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars ...and he's not shy about directing money to those who give generously to his election campaigns.


Funk & Wagnall's, 1964
Funk & Wagnall's Standard Dictionary of the English Language,
1964 International Edition, Volume One, page 548. 


Spending Cuts Even Democrats Can Support:  Although many "bridges to nowhere" are small potatoes, the number of potatoes is large.  A recent accounting by Taxpayers for Common Sense estimated 2005 earmarks at $24 billion; most of this is pure pork.  Adding big ticket items like manned space flight, Amtrak subsidies, mass transit boondoggles like the Big Dig, senseless flood control projects undertaken by the Army Corps of Engineers, and subsidized disaster insurance, not to mention state and local pork, would easily yield substantial savings.  [Approximately] $70 billion.

Did someone mention manned space flightAmtrak subsidies,  and  mass transit boondoggles?

A Democrat victory in November would produce even more pork.  If Democrats win back control of the U.S. House of Representatives in November, U.S. Rep. Jim Moran said he would use his position in the majority to help funnel more funds to his Northern Virginia district. … "When I become chairman [of a House appropriations subcommittee], I'm going to earmark the s··· out of it," Moran buoyantly told a crowd of 450 attending the event.

Update:
Pelosi Will Bring 'Speaker Pork' to San Francisco.  Tip O'Neill secured down payments for Boston's Big Dig.  Sam Rayburn sent gushers of cash back to Texas, along with tax breaks that helped its oil industry.  Hospitals, schools and nonprofits in Dennis Hastert's hometown of Aurora, Ill., have seen millions roll in during his reign.  Now Rep. Nancy Pelosi of San Francisco is poised to follow them as speaker of the House — a perch predecessors used to channel big cash to pet projects back home.

Speaker-to-be is no stranger to earmarking.  When the House passed a massive spending bill last November, Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi made sure her constituents knew what they were getting.  "Pelosi Secures $115 Million for San Francisco Transportation, Housing, Science and Arts," she proclaimed in a news release.  It wasn't an unusual announcement.  Like many of her colleagues in Congress, Pelosi for years has celebrated bringing home the bacon to her district.

Some things never change.  Even before the Democrats become the majority party in Congress, there are signs that little of importance will change.  New York Times reporter David Kirkpatrick recently wrote a front-page story in which he quotes Sen. Daniel Inouye (D-HI) on "earmark reform."  Inouye said, "I don't see any monumental changes."  Inouye will take the gavel from the current chairman of the defense appropriations subcommittee, Sen. Ted Stevens (R-AK).  The two have what Kirkpatrick calls an "unusual bipartisan camaraderie while divvying up projects."

The Last Frontier.  [Scroll down]  [To Dave] Cuddy, the primary is mostly about Alaska's honor and the Republican brand.  "We're simply spending money that our kids are going to have to pay back," he says.  "We have to get over this idea that federal money is free."  Cuddy also argues that when it comes to earmarks, overspending, and the "culture of corruption," Stevens is an example of the trends that cost the Republicans the 2006 elections.

New Democrats Leaders Love Pork Barrel Spending.  Senators Ted Stevens of Alaska and Daniel K. Inouye of Hawaii are the best of friends in the Senate, so close they call each other brother.  Both are decorated veterans of World War II.  They have worked together for nearly four decades as senators from the two youngest and farthest-flung states.  And they share an almost unrivaled appetite for what some call political pork.

The Real Reason For Federal Corruption:  Federal legislators [have become] expert in the art of misappropriating federal cash.  Senator Robert Byrd, D-West Virginia, single-handedly siphoned almost $3 billion to West Virginia between 1991 and 2006, according to Citizens Against Government Waste.  "They call me 'The Pork King,'" Byrd once bragged.  "They don't know how much I enjoy it."

One Byrd Gets Lion's Share Of Earmarks.  Byrd was the first senator to rack up a total of $1 billion in earmarks for his home state.  That was in 1999.  Today he's past the $3 billion mark.  In his famously colorful Senate speeches, Byrd has repeatedly defended his earmarks.

Shutting Down the Senate's Favor Factory.  It is highly unlikely that Sen. Robert Byrd, a legendary king of pork returning as Appropriations Committee chairman, will reverse the habits of a lifetime and listen to ordinary voters' revulsion over excessive federal spending.  "Voters want the earmark favor factory shut down, not turned over to new management," said [Senator Tom] Coburn.

Yeah, right...
Byrd says no more earmarks.  Sen. Robert Byrd joined the new House Appropriations chairman, David Obey, D-Wis., in announcing a brand new day when it comes to spending federal taxpayer money.  "There will be no congressional earmarks," Obey and Byrd said in a joint statement.  That ends the practice of sneaking appropriations for local projects into federal budget bills, a practice if not invented by Byrd, at least perfected by him in his first eight terms in the Senate.

Byrd Gives Rationale for Congressional Earmarks.  "An earmark is an economic need that many times falls between the cracks of the Washington bureaucracy.  When that happens, the people we represent cannot call some unelected bureaucrat in the White House budget office.  They cannot get a Cabinet Secretary on the line.  When they need help, they come to us, their elected representatives."

The Editor says...
I doubt if this was written by a 91-year-old man who just got out of the hospital.*  The newspaper would have us believe that this article was written by Senator Byrd himself.

Post mortem:
Byrd Tributes Go Overboard.  [Scroll down]  For several years there's been a lot of bipartisan indignation over the perfidy of pork and "earmarks."  Who, pray tell, better represented that practice than Byrd?  The man emptied Washington of money and resources with an alacrity and determination not seen since the evacuation of Dunkirk.  There are too many of these Byrd droppings in West Virginia to count, but we do know there are at least 30 buildings and other structures in that state named for him.  So much for Democrats getting the message that Americans are sick of self-aggrandizing politicians.

Following in Byrd's footsteps...
Rep. Rangel Earmarks Funds for His Own Building.  New York Rep. Charles Rangel has been raising funds from taxpayers and corporations for a center in Harlem to be named after a prominent U.S. congressman — Charles Rangel.  The Democrat has quietly raised nearly $25 million for the Charles B. Rangel Center for Public Service at City College, located in a four-story Harlem building and aimed at steering low-income and minority students into politics, the New York Post reports.

Earmark War on the Senate Floor.  Sen. Jim DeMint (R.-S.C.) tried to persuade his fellow Senators to remove a project sponsored by New York Rep. Charles Rangel (D.) that would give $2 million in federal money to the Charles B. Rangel Center for Public Policy, the Rangel Conference Center, and the Charles Rangel Library at the City College of New York.  Freshman Rep. John Campbell (R.-Calif.) has sarcastically called the earmark Rangel's "Monument to Me."  Promotional literature describes the project as "kind of like a presidential library, but without the president."

Rangel's Pet Cause Bears His Own Name.  The New York Democrat has penned letters on congressional stationery and has sought meetings to ask for corporate and foundation contributions for the Charles B. Rangel Center for Public Service at the City College of New York, a project that caused controversy last year when he won a $1.9 million congressional earmark to help start it.  Republican critics dubbed the project Rangel's "Monument to Me."

Democrats Can Smell the Pork.  The sterile, confused lame-duck session of the Republican-controlled 109th Congress ended with a quiet victory by reformers that staved off an estimated 10,000 earmarks.  But it could not be called a farewell to pork.  As the House approached adjournment Thursday, Democrats signaled they may countenance a return to free and easy spending ways when they assume the majority Jan. 4.

Better Late Than Never.  It's been years since federal agencies have screamed this loudly about fiscal discipline being imposed on them.  GOP Sens. Tom Coburn of Oklahoma and Jim DeMint of South Carolina have decided to take a stand against overspending by objecting to the nearly 10,000 earmarks, or member-sponsored pork projects, larded throughout the spending bills Congress is currently considering.

The Dangerous Spread Of Earmarks.  There is no doubt that earmarking has become an overused tool used by Senators and Representatives to fund projects with Federal taxpayers' money.  Citizens Against Government Waste identified nearly 10,000 projects stuffed into appropriations bills this year, representing over $29 billion.

Congress closes with a pork-filled flourish.  Christmas arrived Wednesday for the kidney dialysis industry.  That's when President Bush signed into law the last major piece of legislation approved by the outgoing Congress.  It was a lavish hodgepodge that included a $100 million-a-year boost in the Medicare reimbursement rates for dialysis providers who proved to be generous contributors to important legislators, notably House Ways and Means Chairman Bill Thomas of Bakersfield.

Dennis Hastert, Real Estate Tycoon.  Denny Hastert is a real estate investment genius, turning a private real estate trust into a $1.5 million profit (and then some) in just seven months.  Being Speaker of the House and arranging for a new highway to run less than three miles from his isolated parcel had nothing to it.  Of course.  How could one think otherwise?

Democrat's earmark wasted $37 million on a project with no application.  Once begun, promising but speculative programs like Project M are hard to kill, sustained by members of Congress who want to keep jobs in their districts, military officials who want to keep their options open and businesspeople who want to keep their companies afloat.

Trading votes for pork.  It looks like a scene out of an old movie:  one about shady politicians and back-room deals.  You can almost smell the cigar smoke and see the dirty money changing hands.  But unfortunately, it's not an old film.  It's a real-life picture of the United States Congress.  The cigars are gone, but the dirty deal-making is thoroughly up-to-date.  And at the head of it is Rep. John Murtha (D) of Pennsylvania.

Here to Stay.  For $495, an outfit called TheCapitol.Net will teach you how to feed at the trough.  The firm, which does training seminars on how Washington works, is offering a one-day course on how to get an earmark.  If you sign up, the folks at TheCapitol.Net will even teach you how to counter "public criticism of pork."

Don't know how earmarks work?  Neither does anyone else.  Special interest groups – who pay the lobbyists – who hob-knob the Congressmen – who slide in the unauthorized Rock and Roll Hall of Fames and Sea Otter Commissions while the rest of us aren't looking — they all know how earmarks work.  And that's exactly the problem; we the taxpayers are in the dark.  We have no recourse in how our own tax dollars are spent, and that must change.

Don't know how earmarks work?  Neither does anyone else.  (Part 2):  Taxpayer dollars shouldn't be the petty cash from which local and state governments pull to promote projects, especially when those projects don't even benefit the majority of taxpayers, but loopholes in Congressional lobbying rules actually encourage this behavior.

A Primer on Lobbyists, Earmarks, and Congressional Reform.  A growing body of evidence suggests that illegal and questionable lobbying practices are not uncommon and that incidents such as those involving Mr. Abramoff have likely been repeated in similar transactions between other lobbyists and Members.

Senate Earmark Reforms Quietly Gutted.  A three-word rule change quietly made to Congress's newly-enacted lobby reform package was recently discovered that significantly reduces disclosure requirements for the earmarks each senator requests.

The greatest single hypocrisy:  Earmarking, as I've had occasion to remark before, is the modern method of distributing "pork."  The term comes from how one marks a pig's ear, to determine whom it belongs to.  Senators, in adding bits to legislation, mark those bits as their own by helping their own districts.  Well, certain people within their own districts.  You know, spending on indoor jungles, bike paths, and raisin research.

Ready remedy for earmarks?  If earmarks are to be truly solved, rather than simply lamented, they need to be scrutinized, challenged and removed before reaching the president's desk.  Does such a solution exist?  Not only is there one, but it has a proven track record in the Senate.

Pork endangered:  Senators John McCain and Tom Coburn may force their colleagues to make an up-or-down public decision on proposals such as tucking $2 million for a public park in San Francisco into the nation's massive military spending bill.  Last Dec. 20, this bit of pork was passed by Congress without debate and without a vote in the final version of the Defense Appropriations Act.

Congress Goes on a Spending Binge.  Congress just passed and President George W. Bush just signed a highway bill that will spend $286 billion over six years on roads and bridges, rail and bus facilities, bike paths and recreational trails.  The president says the projects will create jobs.  That is baloney.  Employing people to build roads doesn't add jobs.  The money spent on roads would have been spent on something else.  That something else also would have employed people.

Pork-for-Relief Swap:  When Hurricane Katrina wiped out the City of New Orleans, Congress jumped in and did what Congress does best:  Spend money like drunken sailors with no regard for the fiscal consequences. … You'd think a Republican-controlled Congress might show a little fiscal discipline and cut out some "frills" to cover this unexpected major expense.  And you'd be wrong.

Getting a bit carried away?  Keep in mind that $100 billion is one-eighteenth of the federal government's whole operating budget this year.  It is what we have been spending each year on the entire Iraqi war effort.  It is roughly twice as much as America spends each year to operate all its colleges and universities.  It is more than the total passenger revenue of all the major airlines in the United States.  This year.  It is a staggeringly huge amount of money.

Let's be responsible.  The importance of personal responsibility is taught everyday in American classrooms, churches and at dinner tables and ball fields — everywhere, it seems, but Washington, DC.  There, in the shadows of monuments to Washington and Lincoln, responsibility needs to be reinvigorated by politicians who seem to be more intent on lavishing taxpayer dollars on special interest groups than providing for a safe and prosperous American future.

Republican 'Porkers' Urged to Stop Spending.  "The pork has exploded," Chris Edwards, director of tax policy for the Cato Institute declared, pointing the finger at Republicans and Democrats in government for the increase in pet projects using American taxpayer money.

Big spender Bush runs out of credit with conservative allies.  The federal budget has gone up by a third to $2.47 trillion since he came to power.  This summer's $286 billion Transportation Bill was an exercise in indulgence, including 6,371 special favors, known as "pork" and worth $24 billion.  A surplus has turned into a record deficit.

Storm's Costs Threaten Hill Leaders' Pet Projects.  As Congress looks for budget cuts to pay for damage from Hurricane Katrina, lawmakers are facing the fact that many projects on the chopping block are dear to their constituents.

 Translation:   The Congressmen are dear to their constituents because of all the pork projects they bring home.

More information about opportunism and runaway spending in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.

The Democrats' Byrd strategy:  To those Americans who follow politics, [Senator Robert] Byrd's pork-barreling feats are legend.  The veteran charlatan has pilfered taxpayers nationwide of billions to place his name on dozens of highways, government programs and public buildings in West Virginia.  While taxpayers despise Byrd, his pork-barreling actually earns him kudos from much of the mainstream press.

From the KKK to 48 years in the Senate.  In West Virginia, Senator Byrd is a living legend.  He has channelled so much federal money into his home state that it seems there is hardly a highway, bridge or government building in West Virginia that is not named after him.

West Virginia Weighs Record Term for Byrd.  Leaning on two canes, Sen. Robert C. Byrd hardly looks like a billion-dollar industry — or "Big Daddy," as the 88-year-old Democrat calls himself.  No matter:  Voters once again are looking beyond Byrd's age to his political guile — and the truckloads of federal dollars he's steered to West Virginia — as they consider whether to give him a record ninth term in the Senate.

Is Pork Barrel Spending Ready to Explode?  The lobbyist is proposing to sell something that is not really his to sell.  That he believes he can deliver it tells us that something is terribly wrong in Congress.  It is one thing for members of Congress to make pork-barrel spending promises to their constituents and deliver on them, but it is quite another that earmarks can be bought and sold like bushels of wheat on the open market by private speculators.

Shocking New Pork Barrel Spending!  One [amendment] by Senator Conrad Burns (R-MO) would bail out farmers even MORE to a tune of $2.4 billion (this is on top of the $180 billion Farm Bill that was recently signed into law).  Another would further increase HIV/AIDS funding overseas by $600 million.  What is even more maddening about this profligate spending is the fact that we are only days away from starting the annual appropriations process, which becomes an annual pork fest in its own right.

Book review
Plowshares & Pork Barrels:  The Political Economy of Agriculture.  Established in 1860, the U.S. Department of Agriculture has grown without cease and is now the most entrenched of all federal agencies.  The Farm Bills signed by Presidents Bill Clinton in 1996 and George W. Bush in 2002 only served to further expand this byzantine system.

Take the Federal Out of Farming.  Here's how the American free enterprise system works.  You have an idea for a business.  You find the money to start it up.  You try to give customers something they want at a price low enough to keep them happy but high enough to earn a profit.  Either your plan works, allowing you to make a living, or it doesn't, indicating you should find a different line of work.  Unless, of course, you are a farmer, in which case all this may sound unfamiliar.

Congress Punts, Public Sacked.  Another winter has come in Washington and brought with it another pork-laden omnibus spending bill.  That's right.  Thanks to Congress's continued inability to do its job, taxpayers are once again left holding the bag as billions of our hard-earned dollars are wasted.

Highway-to-nowhere bill.  In a Statement of Administrative Position, President Bush in March opposed the myriad set-asides and so-called "high-priority" projects that litter the legislation, have little to do with building and refitting critical highway infrastructure and are inserted for political pork.  Bicycle paths, covered bridge restoration and programs designed to encourage people to walk to work are just a few examples of pork, and there are many, many more.

Highways to Porkville.  A lot of those billboards posted at public construction sites that say "Your Tax Dollars At Work" need to be replaced with signs that read "Wasting Your Money."  This is the sad but inescapable conclusion after thumbing through the 2,000-plus pages of the $286 billion transportation bill that President Bush signed [recently] — legislation that Republican Sen. John McCain of Arizona correctly called "a monstrosity" stuffed with outrageous, waste-ridden pork barrel projects that often have nothing to do with roads.

Taxpayer Groups Urge a Presidential Veto on Budget Busting Highway Bill.  Congress is nearing completion of a Highway Bill that will surely rank as one of the worst examples of pork-barrel spending of all time.

Passing up highway pork.  Rep. Jeff Flake, an Arizona Republican, was one of only eight House members to vote against the $286.4 billion highway and mass-transit bill, a pork-bloated law that passed with bipartisan gusto on July 29 in the House, 412-8, and in the Senate, 91-4.

Under Bush, Federal Spending Increases at Fastest Rate in 30 Years.  President George W. Bush [became] the first full-term president since John Quincy Adams (1825-1829) to not veto a single bill.  The result is a congress that has been completely unconstrained in satiating its appetite for pork and corporate welfare.

From Wartime Expedient to Permanent Pork Barrel:  WFC to RFC to SBA.  Jesse H. Jones, the Texas wheeler-dealer who became the Reconstruction Finance Corporation's chairman in May 1933 and remained in charge of it until March 1945, observed that the RFC "grew to be America's largest corporation and the world's biggest and most varied banking organization." … Jones was not just huffing and puffing:  $50 billion dollars was a gargantuan amount of money to dole out.  Small wonder that he was widely regarded as the second-most-powerful man in the government.

Line-Item Veto Can Cut Pork.  U.S. taxpayers deserve to have Congress justify how it spends their money.  This is the simple idea behind giving the president a modified, constitutional version of the line-item veto.  By shining the light of day on budgeting in Washington and holding members of Congress accountable for spending they insert into legislation, we can reduce wasteful pork-barrel spending.

On the other hand...
A Spending Eraser is at Hand.  Neither Congress need act nor the president wait if they decided to use the power already provided by the Budget Act's authority to rescind funds.  This law gives the president the ability to single out spending items for repeal and Congress an expedited way to do so by simple majority vote.  While perhaps not as theoretically potent as a line-item veto, rescission has several advantages.  It has worked, it is surgical and it would avoid the adversarial nature of the line-item veto.

Book review:
Plowshares and Pork Barrels.  Established in 1860, the U.S. Department of Agriculture has grown without cease and is now the most entrenched of all federal agencies. … Economists are nearly unanimous in their denunciation of this wasteful and pernicious web of politics.  Subsidies for not growing crops are so notorious that they have been the object of biting political satire since their introduction in the 1930s.  However, few books have critically analyzed government farm programs in their entirety.

Discretionary, mandatory and unconstitutional spending.  Several sections of the Constitution expressly grant Congress the authority to tax and spend money to establish military forces to defend the nation against its enemies.  Not one says anything about buying drugs for retired people.

Base closing gripes.  It's officially called the Department of Defense, but to many politicians, the label misstates its function.  Judging from their reaction to proposed base closures, they'd like to rename it the Department of Jobs, Pork, Community Uplift and Incumbent Protection.  That way, no one would get distracted by the petty business of protecting America.

Do Voters Choose Politicians, or Do Politicians Choose Voters?  Gerrymandering, campaign finance reform, and public subsidies are three ways that government intervention has reduced political competition, according to a new study.

The Oppenheimer-opera-documentary grant:  The 1965 law that created the NEA was passed by a Democratic Congress and signed by Democratic President Lyndon Johnson.  It says nothing about the Constitution.  But it does claim it "is necessary and appropriate for the Federal government to compliment, assist and add to programs for the advancement of the humanities and the arts by local, state, regional, and private agencies and their organizations."  That means it is "necessary" for your family to be taxed so federal bureaucrats can give your money to the Iris Feminist Collective.  Our constitutional republic flourished for 176 years before liberal Democrats discovered this "necessity."

Congress Approves $800 Billion Increase in Debt Ceiling.  The U.S. Congress approved an $800 billion increase in the nation's $7.384 trillion debt limit, the third increase in the government's borrowing limit since President George W. Bush came to office.

Rolling Back Government:  Lessons from New Zealand.  Stopping government growth requires high levels of transparency and significant consequences for bad decisions.

No Member of Congress Voted for a Net Reduction in Federal Spending ...for the third year running.  When it came to controlling deficit spending last year, words were abundant but deeds were in short supply on Capitol Hill.

Red Light on Highway Pork:  Local road projects seem to top most members' agendas, and money is no object.  The House bill would cost $283 billion over six years, almost $50 billion more than what the government is scheduled to collect in gas taxes in that period.  Worse, it's loaded with more than 3,000 "earmarks" totaling $10.7 billion.

Federal Spending Creates Few Jobs, Less Value.  During the recent debate on legislation to reauthorize the federal highway system, many supporters of the program claimed that it would create two million jobs.  But as decades of research demonstrate, such claims are questionable….

Same story —  Highways and Jobs:  The uneven record of federal spending and job creation.

Congress Passes $373 Billion Spending Bill.  The measure has 7,932 so-called earmarks, for local items such as museum upgrades and agricultural research, costing $10.7 billion, according to Taxpayers for Common Sense, a group that pushes for lower spending.

Why Can't Congress Stop Spending?  Everybody complains about pork, but members of Congress keep spending because voters do not throw them out of office for doing so.  The rotten system in Congress will change only when the American people change their beliefs about the proper role of government in our society.  Too many members of Congress believe they can solve all economic problems, cure all social ills, and bring about worldwide peace and prosperity simply by creating new federal programs.  We must reject unlimited government and reassert the constitutional rule of law if we hope to halt the spending orgy.

A Threat Greater than Terrorism:  Even though many in Washington pledged themselves to fiscal responsibility, federal spending has been skyrocketing in recent years.  At $20,000 per household, federal spending is at its highest levels since World War II.

Our misspent tax dollars:  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?

Welfare Turns Into a Suite Deal:  The Bush administration and the Republican-led House have taken steps toward providing an unprecedented taxpayer-funded handout to private companies.  The energy bill, which passed the House and will be taken up again by the Senate in January, contains nearly $30 billion in such benefits, including $11.3 billion in subsidies for oil and gas companies that just had one of their most profitable years on record.

The issue that won't go away.  Stephen Slivinski blasts the big spending Republican Congress and points to what he calls "the curse of incumbency."  A curse, he says, that "can be measured in dollar terms."  Slivinski recites chapter and verse of numerous studies of congressional behavior all demonstrating that politicians vote for evermore spending the longer they stay in office.  The answer, according to Slivinski, is obvious:  term limits.

Money to Burn:  Take the case of Iowa Senator Charles Grassley.  He's served in Congress for 30 years.  According to opponents of term limits, this means he possesses valuable wisdom that we simply can't replace.  And yet he wants to build a rain forest in Iowa.

Shocking New Pork Barrel Spending!  It appears that even after a stern warning from President Bush and the immense pressure of looming deficits, that lawmakers STILL can't keep their fingers out of the cookie jar.

Conservative groups break with Republican leadership:  National leaders of six conservative organizations yesterday [1/15/2004] broke with the Republican majorities in the House and Senate, accusing them of spending like "drunken sailors," and had some strong words for President Bush as well.

The party of big spenders:  Once upon a time a Republican candidate for president named George W. Bush painted his Democratic opponent, Al Gore, as a reckless big spender whose fiscal policies would mean that "the era of big government being over is over."  So where do things stand three years later?

The embarrassing GOP:  This Republican Congress, in addition to increasing spending on entitlements and expanding big government - like the Democrats they once criticized - also dished out $95 billion in tax breaks and pork-barrel projects.

Do the Republicans have the courage to roll back federal spending?  Half of all Americans now receive some form of entitlement, whether Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, Aid to Families with Dependent Children, unemployment insurance, veterans benefits, federal pensions, food stamps, school lunches, the earned-income tax credit, farm subsidies, or disability payments.  Entitlements consume more than half of the $1.5-trillion budget.

Washington's $782 Billion Spending Spree:  Politicians who want to spend even more money are telling taxpayers that it's time to sacrifice.  To which taxpayers should reply:  "You first."

 Sidebar:   The National Debt, Down To the Penny.  Does anyone care that it is over $9,229,172,659,000?

The Dirty Dozen:  The Twelve Porkiest States 1995-2002. [PDF file]

Congress Accused of Wasting Money as Deficit Mounts:  The energy bill, economic stimulus package and farm bill are all examples of congressional spending gone wild, according to a study released by the watchdog group Taxpayers for Common Sense.

A Long Hot Summer:  History has shown that short deadlines and election-year pressures always lead to "compromises" that grow the size and scope of government.

New Awards For Republicans in Name Only:  They're called RINOs - Republicans in Name Only, and now, they've even got their own awards, dubious to be sure, handed out by the anti-tax Washington group, Club For Growth.  Club For Growth President Stephen Moore said the RINO awards recognize certain Republican office holders around the nation who have advanced what he called "anti-growth, anti-freedom or anti-free market policies."

Tom Daschle's Scam to Help Swindle Taxpayers:  Pork-barrel spending through the Agriculture Department can be discovered and exposed through the use of the Freedom of Information Act.  But that could change if Senator Tom Daschle, D-S.D., gets his way.

If Pork Had Wings:  Word has it that congressional offices are creating lists of lobbyists and corporations who have come knocking to use the Sept. 11 tragedies to cash in for their own narrow benefit.  Such profiteering is troubling, of course, and in this case achieves the amazing feat of setting a new low in the Washington world of brazen corporate welfare.

Welfare State Continues to Grow:  When President Lyndon Johnson launched the War on Poverty more than 30 years ago, he announced it was an investment that would repay its cost to society many times over.  Since that time, the United States has "invested" $7.95 trillion (in constant 1999 dollars) in programs that provide cash, food, housing, and medical and social services to poor and low-income Americans.  By contrast, the cost to the United States of fighting World War II was $3.2 trillion (also in 1999 dollars).  The cost of the War on Poverty has been more than twice the price tag for defeating Germany and Japan in World War II, after adjusting for inflation.

Total Tax Collections Climb to $2.667 Trillion,  ...and that was three years ago!

Cut Out the Pork, Fatten the Economy.

Ten Thousand Commandments:  In the new fiscal year 2002 federal budget, President George W. Bush proposed $1.96 trillion in spending.  While these costs encompass the on-budget scope of the federal government, there is considerably more to the government's reach.  Federal environmental, safety and health, and economic regulations cost hundreds of billions of dollars every year on top of official federal outlays.

The Welfare State on Autopilot Through Current Services Budgeting:  An 11-page expose of the federal budget process, where spending is compared to an inflated current services budget, rather than to last year's spending.  This is how a 4.5% spending increase over the previous year can be characterized as a "draconian cut."

The Department of Embezzlement:  The Senate Committee on Governmental Affairs issued a report, "Government at the Brink," detailing billions of dollars in government waste, loss, and fraud.  It's a measure of the Clinton-Gore legacy - an Executive Branch with core management problems.  The Big Three TV networks and the New York Times ignored it. With the Democratic coup, Joe Lieberman now heads the Committee, and it's back to politics as usual.

Conservatives Mark "Cost Of Government Day":  Several conservative groups proclaimed July 6 as the day at which Americans have earned enough gross income to gain "independence" from having to for the cost of federal, state and local government.

Taxpayers Group Says Congress Didn't Curb Big Government Last Year.


The Pork Chart appeared in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel on March 14, 2001

Wisconsin near bottom of pork barrel:
Chart ranks states by per-capita pork

(This chart appeared in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel on March 14, 2001.)


Kennedy Exploits Campaign Law Loophole:
The loophole allows politicians to accept flights aboard private and corporate jets, which could run more than $3,000 an hour, as long as they pay what a first-class commercial fare would cost.

Free Lunch:  Title I's formula for determining aid — and its recipe for fraud:  The process to qualify for a free lunch comes down to parents self-reporting their income on a form that is turned in to their local school.  Federal free-lunch program administrators argue that the program has little potential for abuse because "the worst that happens is a kid gets a free lunch."  Federal free-lunch data, however, are used as one of the main poverty indicators for school districts and are linked to many other local, state, and federal funding streams.  So any fraud in the free-lunch program is quickly multiplied.

Bush vs. Pork

Your stolen money... Government out of control

There Ain't No Surplus!

Let's Retire Social Security on its 65th Birthday  A moral way to abolish this destructive scheme.  The system is a massive fraud, one that violates individual rights and breeds insecurity.

Cost of Government Goes Up While Costs of Living Go Down

The High Cost of Government




Recommended Reading:  "Not Yours to Give",  an excerpt from The Life of Colonel David Crockett, compiled by Edward S. Ellis (Philadelphia: Porter & Coates, 1884).



Editor's Note:  Use your favorite internet search engine and search for the phrase "risk losing federal funds", as in "states (or schools) that do not comply would risk losing federal funds".  You'll be surprised at the number of times this phrase pops up in news stories, because the federal government is taking money out of your paycheck and using it to buy back the Tenth Amendment from the fifty states.  Surprisingly many people believe that federally funded projects cost nothing.  But there are no "federal funds" except the money that has been taken from the taxpayers.  So when you "risk losing federal funds", you only risk lower taxes and smaller government!


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Updated December 16, 2014.

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