Pork per capita and sundry tidbits

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    Aug 31, 2010 7:22 AM GMT
    From the introduction (quoted in full just in case you're wondering whether I'm partisan):
    http://www.cagw.org/assets/pig-book-files/2010/2010-pig-book-summary.pdfWhen Citizens Against Government Waste (CAGW) released the first Congressional Pig Book in 1991, the group was a lonely voice in the pork-barrel wilderness. There was only modest objection to the 546 projects worth $3.2 billion, and “earmark” was virtually unknown. The one constant since then has been the undisputed reign of the King of Pork, Sen. Robert Byrd (D-W.Va.).

    After Republicans took over Congress in 1994, pork-barrel projects started to be used as a currency of re-election. Over the following decade, they became a currency of corruption, and the explosion in earmarks to their peak at $29 billion in 2006 helped erase the Republican majority. The 9,129 projects in the 2010 Congressional Pig Book represent a 10.2 percent decline from the 10,160 projects identified in fiscal year 2009, and the $16.5 billion in cost is a 15.5 percent decrease from the $19.6 billion in pork in fiscal year 2009.

    The reforms that were adopted when Democrats took over Congress in 2006 can be attributed to many years of work exposing earmarks, especially the outpouring of public outrage over projects such as $50,000,000 for an indoor rainforest in Iowa and $500,000 for a teapot museum in North Carolina.

    The changes include greater transparency, with the names of members of Congress first appearing next to their requested projects in 2008; letters of request that identify where and why the money will be spent; and the elimination of earmarks named after sitting members of Congress in the House.

    For fiscal year 2011, House Democrats are not requesting earmarks that go to for-profit entities; House Republicans are not requesting any earmarks (although there are both exceptions and definitional questions); not surprisingly, the Senate has rejected any limits on earmarks. None of these reforms are sufficient to eliminate all earmarks, so CAGW expects there will still be a 2011 Pig Book.

    The transparency changes are far from perfect. The fiscal year 2010 Defense Appropriations Act contained 35 anonymous projects worth $6 billion, or 59 percent of the total pork in the bill. Out of the 9,129 projects in the 2010 Congressional Pig Book there were 9,048 requested projects worth $10 billion and 81 anonymous projects worth $6.5 billion.

    The latest installment of CAGW’s 20-year exposé of pork-barrel spending includes $4,481,000 for wood utilization research, $300,000 for Carnegie Hall in New York City, and $200,000 for the Washington National Opera in the District of Columbia.

    Following the exit of Alaska porker extraordinaire Sen. Ted Stevens (R-Alaska), the state slipped to number four in pork per capita. Hawaii led the nation with $251 per capita ($326 million). The runners up were North Dakota with $197 per capita ($127 million) and West Virginia with $146 per capita ($265 million).

    The projects in this year’s Congressional Pig Book Summary symbolize the most egregious and blatant examples of pork. As in previous years, all of the items in the Congressional Pig Book meet at least one of CAGW’s seven criteria, but most satisfy at least two:

    Requested by only one chamber of Congress;
    Not specifically authorized;
    Not competitively awarded;
    Not requested by the President;
    Greatly exceeds the President’s budget request or the previous year’s funding;
    Not the subject of congressional hearings; or
    Serves only a local or special interest.

    It's what you do that counts, not what you stand for.
    So people who want less government should vote for the candidate that brought the least pork into their district.
    I don't want to name names (you can look them yourselves), but Republicans and Democrats all love pork (that's what gets them elected in the first place). Ted Stevens, RIP.
    Don't tell me a Republican is better in reining the government when the biggest expansion in government happened during Republican rule. We should all logically vote for the Republican or Democrat that brought the least pork in.
    How about this: we should all vote for candidates that are trying to get elected for the district next to us, so that we can ensure the LEAST amount of pork gets spent there. icon_biggrin.gif
    And yes, the next logical deduction would be: Bush was not a Republican, not by any stretch of the imagination, if you judge from his deeds. He was a Democrat!
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    Aug 31, 2010 8:08 AM GMT
    Pork, generally speaking, is a stupid campaign issue. People bring it up to smear incumbents as wasteful and irresponsible. But really, it is such a tiny fraction of the budget and it often does very good things. Like, a human trafficking center which will be opened up here in Oregon thanks to pork.

    Now, there certainly are some very bad people who do very bad things. Like Don Young from Alaska and his infamous Coconut Road. But, it ain't nothin' a little reform couldn't fix.
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    Aug 31, 2010 11:32 AM GMT
    I would love to get some of that pork money (10-20 billion) into things like the CDC, FDA, NIH and the NCI where it would do some permanent good for a lot more people other those that the pork went to.

    I still don't like the hypocrisy of calling it pork when its your opponents' and "jobs created" when its yours.

    The problem with this country is that it has never felt the need to tighten belts, so penny pinching (and a big penny it is) feels strange to its politicians.

    I still use coupons to this day when I shop groceries. I don't have to, but it's a habit. I would love to impart my habits to our politicians.