September 20, 2005
Citizens Against Government Waste (CAGW) today named House Majority Leader Tom DeLay (R-Texas) and Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chairman Don Young (R-Alaska) Co-Porkers of the Month for their response to requests to offset the costs of Hurricane Katrina relief.
According to a Sept. 14 Washington Times article, Rep. DeLay declared an "ongoing victory" in the effort to cut spending, and that the Republicans had "pared (the government) down pretty good." While claiming to be receptive to proposed offsets, DeLay said that "nobody has been able to come up with any yet." He added that cutting the 6,000 earmarks in the recently-passed $295 billion Transportation Equity Act - A Legacy for Users (TEA-LU) would adversely affect "important infrastructure" and the economy, and it would be "right" to borrow the money to pay for Katrina relief.
Rep. Young had a much more curt response when asked by a Fairbanks Daily News-Miner reporter about redirecting the combined $450 million earmarked for the Gravina Island and Knik Arm (renamed Don Young's Way) bridges to hurricane victims: "They can kiss my ear." He then called such a request the "dumbest thing I've ever heard."
Earmarks are projects that have neither been requested by the administration nor deemed worthy by a congressional committee. Over the years they've become as prevalent as grease on a machine's gears. The 1991 transportation bill contained 538 earmarks. This year's had 4,373. Last year's catchall appropriations bill, which wrapped together seven of the 13 annual spending bills, contained 8,000 earmarks totaling $10 billion.
Instead of kissing Don Young's ear, taxpayers should shout loud and clear they want him and his colleagues to give up their pork and cut the fat, says CAGW.
CAGW says Rep. Young added insult to this injury to taxpayers by stating that Louisiana did quite well in the highway bill (failing to note changed circumstances, like the lack of a bridge over Lake Pontchartrain) and that he had helped the seafood industry raise $50,000 for hurricane victims. The money came from a Sept. 9 charity golf tournament in Roslyn, Wash., yet Young said "I raised enough money to give back to them voluntarily, and that's it." These comments came several days after a spokesman for Young called the pork for relief idea "moronic."
CAGW says unfortunately, Rep. DeLay's and Rep. Young's comments will confirm what taxpayers already think about the lack of leadership to cut wasteful programs in the Republican-led Congress, which has presided over the largest increase in federal spending since the Great Society.
Both legislators have ignored savings that could come from CAGW's Congressional Pig Book, which identified 13,977 pork projects totaling $27.3 billion in the fiscal 2005 appropriations bills says CAGW. Projects included $6.3 million for wood utilization research, $2 million for the buy back of the USS Sequoia Presidential Yacht, and $100,000 for the Tiger Woods Foundation. The highway bill included "important infrastructure" like $2.3 million for landscaping enhancements along the Ronald Reagan Freeway in Ventura County, $1.8 million to construct a visitor interpretive center at the Gray Fossil Site in Gray, Tenn., and $432,000 to establish a transportation museum on the Navy Pier in Chicago. According to CAGW, rescinding such projects would do nothing to harm the economy or essential transportation priorities.
CAGW says Reps. DeLay and Young, and their colleagues, have other resources at their disposal for cutting budget fat. CAGW's report Prime Cuts 2005 catalogues 600 recommendations throughout the government that if enacted could save taxpayers $232 billion in fiscal year 2006 and $2 trillion over the next five years. Recommendations range from ending corporate welfare to eliminating outdated and expensive agricultural subsidies. President Bush proposed cutting or eliminating 150 programs in fiscal 2006, saving taxpayers about $15 billion. The Web site for the Office of Management and Budget meticulously documents the justifications for each recommendation. These proposals could be brought to the House floor for a vote with DeLay's help.
Porker of the Month is a dubious honor given by Citizens Against Government Waste to lawmakers, government officials, and political candidates who "have shown a blatant disregard for the interests of taxpayers". For adding all Hurricane Katrina relief to the deficit without agreeing to offsetting cuts and exaggerating the fiscal competence of the Republican Congress, CAGW names Reps. Tom DeLay and Don Young Co-Porkers of the Month for September 2005.
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