Thursday, September 08, 2005

Cut The Pork

Obviously, it will take enormous amounts of money to pay for all the work that needs to be done in New Orleans, and other areas that were decimated by Hurricane Katrina. Taxpayers will foot a large part of the bill, but the impact could be lessened by one common sense move; Congress should go back and cut some pork-barrel spending. The savings can be used to fund relief and rebuilding efforts. From the Heritage Foundation:
One way to show such sacrifice and resolve would be to agree to shift at least half of the $25 billion dollars that the recently enacted highway bill (SAFETEA-LU) dedicates to frivolous pork barrel spending in local communities around the nation. As Mississippi and Louisiana confront the replacement of dozens of wrecked bridges, is it possible that Rep. Don Young (R-AK) could give up one of the two $200 million dollar bridges he secured for his state? Perhaps Alaskans could go without the one that will serve a town of just fifty people, who now ride a ferry? Such an example of leadership and sacrifice by a senior Member like Rep. Young could persuade the rest of the Congress to follow his lead and give up there own wasteful earmarks and pork until the $12 or $13 billion dollars is redirected to those whose need is dire.
As Congress considers the vast suffering in Louisiana, is it possible that Richmond, Indiana, could give up its $3 million dollar hiking trail? Could Newark, New Jersey pass on its $2 million earmark for Waterfront Pedestrian and Bicycle Access? And can Hoboken, New Jersey, do likewise with the $8 million planned for its Waterfront Walkway? What about the $3 million that Modesto, California, expects to get for its Rails to Trails program, the $5 million Bridgeport, Connecticut, grabbed for an Intermodal Transportation facility, the $5 million Delaware will get to improve the Auto Tour Route at the Bombay Hook Wildlife Refuge, and the $6.5 million that state will receive for the Wilmington Train Station Restoration? In the face of genuine need, don’t these expensive projects seem comparatively frivolous?

The earmarks go on and on like this, page after page in SAFETEA-LU. The more than 6,000 earmarks in it add up to nearly $25 billion in money that could now be better used for a more urgent purpose than flower gardens, replica sailing ships, and bus museums. Members of Congress may want these projects, but Katrina'’s victims need the funding more.
UPDATE: This could be a first. The NY Times agrees with the Heritage Foundation.