Military Spending Bill Hijacked by Pigs

This has got to stop! Congressional representative from both sides of the aisle are stuffing the carcass of an $80.6 billion bill slated to support the troops in Iraq. These fiscal gluttons know the emergency military spending bill will be passed — must be passed. Ramifications for our troops, as well as political careers, hang in the balance. It’s hard to say which one “our representatives” find more pressing.

Yes, it’s become a wild flurry of activity on Capitol Hill to see exactly how much can be tacked on to this necessary bill. A push from the House even attempts to add immigration reform to the bill. It appears to be a feeding frenzy. Amendments written onto the bill include pet projects such as: oil drilling, forest services, a new baseball stadium for Washington, armed protection for judges, watershed projects and economic assistance to Palestinians. You read it right. This emergency military spending bill includes an amendment providing the District of Columbia $42 million in tax revenues for a baseball stadium. Apparently, the senators want to fund the Nationals. The question is: Do “We the People” want to fund the Nationals?

Now, maybe all these amendments have merit — although I doubt it. The underhanded way their proponents circumvent the system leaves one to question how substantial and necessary these projects are. This method of “pork barrel” spending has been practice for decades. It’s not a novel approach to sneak what you want onto a “must-pass” bill. However, we reached an all-time low when use our troops in the field as a vehicle to quickly allocate funds we would otherwise debate. These troops sacrificed time with their families and have put themselves in harms way for our country. They have been unable to attend any baseball games for a long time. Every day, their lives are in danger. Those on Capitol Hill, in their infinite wisdom (yeah, right), are essentially stealing from them and from us.

To be fair, there are few congressmen — relatively few — that fight this trend. Senator Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) wants to eliminate funding that is not urgently needed. Coburn believes that, with Social Security in crisis, we should curtail these budget games. And, he’s absolutely right! Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-Tenn.) would prefer to keep the spending bill free at least of anything related to illegal immigrants. Of course, Frist seemed unconcerned by the padding of the bill with other pet projects. Senator Robert C. Byrd (D-W Va) decried the bill’s amendments and blamed it on the Republicans. This claim rings a bit hollow as Byrd uses the pork barrel practice often. In 2001, the Citizens Against Government Waste (CAGW) named Byrd the highest Democratic appropriator in the Senate, securing $194 million for his state and $5.5 million for a new dormitory at the National Conservation Training Center in West Virginia. He topped the record this year with a whopping $399 million dollars of pork spending for his state of West Virginia — winning him one of CAGW’s “Oinkers” of 2005 awards.

Although this is one of the most reprehensible instances of pork barrel spending, it happens all the time. It may interest you to know that we, the US taxpayers, have funded such projects as: a tattoo removal program in San Luis Obispo County, California ($50,000); The Fort Union Trading Post Bike Trail in North Dakota ($500,000); The Center on Obesity at West Virginia University ($2 million); Therapeutic Horseback Riding in Apple Valley, California ($150,000); the recovery of Preble’s Meadow Jumping Mouse ($500,000); Washington State’s dolphin replacement project ($4 million); and an effort to combat “goth culture” in Blue Springs, Missouri ($270,000). Wouldn’t it be interesting to know how and with what the fine state of Washington would replace the dolphins? One of my personal favorites is $6.3 million for wood utilization research. If we haven’t yet determined all the applications for wood, we should be wiped off the face of the earth.

Is it any wonder we have a budget deficit? The Democrats like to blame President Bush and the war on terror/Iraq. Perhaps, if we stopped funding these insipid projects which only help politicians get reelected, we would have more funds for the important things — like Medicare, Social Security, Homeland Security and education.

Isn’t it time we yell from the rooftops that this practice of pork barrel spending is unacceptable? Ultimately, these politicians answer to us . . . and, I feel the urge for a pig roast.

To learn more about CAGW, visit their web site. You can read about the military spending bill here and here.
(The second is an AOL link and may not be accessible to non-AOL members.)

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