Friday, December 21, 2012

WSJ op-ed: Pork for Christmas

Paid-registration is required in this must-read Wall Street Journal editorial on pork-addicted Congress.

Here is a taste:
Only Congress could do something like this. 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?

There's $150 million in there for Alaskan fisheries. We knew Sandy made it to the Midwest, but Alaska? Marine projects from New England to Mississippi also made the cut. Also along for the joyride is $8 million for new cars and other equipment for the Justice Department and Homeland Security, $2 million for roof repair at the Smithsonian in Washington, $4 million for the Kennedy Space Center, $3 million for oil-spill research and $348 million for the National Park Service.

Nearly $17 billion is in the bill for the Community Development Fund and social service grants, two long-running initiatives to fund liberal activists. Amtrak would get $188 million, including funds for two new train tunnels in New York unrelated to Sandy. Amtrak already got $1.4 billion last year. And of course some $600 million is directed to the Environmental Protection Agency to support climate change adaptation.

The rationale is to spread the pork far and wide across the country to assemble the 60 votes in the Senate necessary to secure the bill's passage. But New York Senator Chuck Schumer, who's in the lead on this, will need Republican votes to get to 60. GOP Senators John McCain and Tom Coburn have already compiled a dirty laundry list of the bill's non-Sandy spending. Any GOP vote for needs beyond Sandy could be a long-term embarrassment.
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