According to the Citizens Against Government Waste (CAGW) web site & press release, the 2002 Congressional Pig Book identifies the following pork:[ul]
[li]Total pork hidden in the 13 federal appropriations bills passed last fall is a record $20,100,000.00[/li][li]In the last 3 years, the number of individual projects has nearly quadrupled, from 2,143 to 8,341. The total number of projects are up 32% over last year. 2002 total dollars increased 9% over 2001.[/ul][/li]The proponents would probably argue: [ul]
[li]According to the IRS, FY2000 total federal revenues were 2 trillion, 92 billion 755 million and change. Total pork makes up less than 1% of total revenues collected.[/li][li]Many “so-called” pork barrel projects have both a local and national benefit and in some cases international benefits: [/li]$25 million for the International Fund for Ireland.
$14 million for the Holling’s Marine Laboratory in Charleston, South Carolina.
$8.4 million for the Magdalena Ridge Observatory in New Mexico.
$5.67 million for wood utilization research.
$2 million for kilns in south-central and southeastern Alaska.
$2 million for the Vulcan Monument in Birmingham, Alabama.
$1.5 million contained in the Defense appropriations bill for a large millimeter wavelength telescope.
$1.1 million for Mountain Made in Thomas, WV to educate artists and craftspeople.
$1 million for the Southern New Mexico Fair and Rodeo.
$1 million for the Holling’s Cancer Center of South Carolina.[/ul]
I’ll attempt to avoid a Howard Beale-like rant and point out why I personally oppose all Congressional Pork Barrel projects: [ul]
[li]It’s Unfair: Federal distribution by state per tax dollar contributed is grossly skewed. According to the Tax Foundation, states like North Dakota & New Mexico receive anywhere from 46% to 103% more in expenditures per federal tax dollar sent to Washington while states like Connecticut & New Jersey only receive 62 to 66 cents back for every dollar sent to the treasury. The appropriators in Congress use their seniority and clout to bring home the bacon. The only way to end this unfair system (the black, white and many shades of gray in between) is to completely eliminate all federal expenditures on local projects. The time for new federalism has come, let local lawmakers spend local revenues and decide what needs to be spent and where.[/li]
[li]It’s Wasteful: Un-cite-able common sense tells me when tax money goes first through the Federal bureaucracy a lot more is eaten up in overhead. It seems foolish & duplicitous to send money through 2 or more layers of the bureaucratic machine, with less ending up where it was intended. [/li]
[li]It’s Expensive: That all depends how you personally view 20 billion dollars. Me, I refuse to accept the less than 1% of revenue argument. Like the old saying goes, “a few million here, a few million there and before you know it, we’re talking real money.” I feel every lawmaker, every government official has a duty to treat every federal dollar like it was gold. Some simple arithmetic tells me $20.1 billion divided by 105 million households equals $191 for each household in the US. Granted, not a lot of money in the grand scheme of things, but just enough to make a difference to some people, especially the lower and middle class. [/li]
[li]It’s Unstoppable: The establishment in Washington will do nothing to eliminate pork-barrel spending, it’s considered the grease that lubes the legislative machinery (a few lube puns come to mind, but I’ll refrain). In it’s 6-3 decision of 6/98 striking down the line-item veto law, the US Supreme Court drove a nail into the coffin of appropriation reform.[/ul][/li]
Because pork barrel spending is so unfair, expensive and unstoppable, I see only one solution. What if, (keep in mind; there’s a big, radical, probably unconstitutional what coming up here) the President of the United States gave a speech that went something like this:
”Fellow American Taxpayers, Because the Legislative and Judicial Branches have handcuffed my ability to reign in the wasteful spending of your money, I hereby make the following executive order:
Effective immediately, I will grant an executive pardon to every taxpaying Head of Household who circumvents IRS regulations and adds $190 to Box 2 (Federal Tax Withheld) of their W-2 Wage and Tax Statement.”
Ever Going to Happen? Never. Simplistic? Yeah. Despotic? Possibly. Radical? A little. Unconstitutional? Probably. A Wake-up Call? I think so.