LVN editorial: A little pork here, a little pork there
The recently passed Omnibus Appropriations Bill produced more squealing from pork projects than we heard of Alaska’s great bridge to nowhere during the 2008 elections.
The bill allows the government to conduct its financial business as usual, but the major return of earmarks or that pork spending down on the farm slipped through Congress faster than a greased pig running up and down the aisles of both the Senate and House.
The $1.2 trillion appropriations bill either provided unnecessary spending or over spending — in other words, prudent requests from different agencies were ignored for larger amounts.
Both Democrats and Republicans touted their budgetary conquests with taxpayers footing the bill.
For example, the Pentagon says the Army has enough tanks and doesn’t need an upgrade for at least three more years. Congress did not listen, and instead, continued funding the upgrade of the M1 Abrams tank to the tune of $90 billion. Ohio Sen. Rob Portman, a known supporter against pork spending, boasted that he secured $90 million to build more Abrams tanks in Lima, Ohio.
Meanwhile, Maine Sens. Susan Collins and Angus King secured funding for a fifth Arleigh Burke class destroyer. Sequestration had cut funding for the destroyer, but the appropriation comes at a time when the Navy seeks to reduce its fleet.
A high intensity drug trafficking program, for example, concentrated on borer states; Congress, though, has expanded the program to non-border states, and the cost has skyrocketed to $45 billion.
Almost $6 billion was approved for an East-West Center in Hawaii that will promote improved relations among Pacific nations. We wonder if a center like that, though, will persuade China to reduce its increasing military presence in the Far East.
Other earmarks include funding to fight citrus disease in Florida, aid to examine fish disasters and extra money for a research lab, $5 million more than last year.
Both Michigan Democrats and Republicans snared $55 million to build The Facility for Rare Isotopic beams.
As taxpayers we want Congress to be more careful with our money, but along comes more — not less — spending.
Says Steve Ellis, vice president of Taxpayers for Common Sense, a budget watchdog group that has opposed earmarks for quite some time:
“These are people who are in a position of power, who are writing these bill, so they’re making sure that their bread is buttered.”
Editorials written by the LVN Editorial Board appear on Wednesdays.