Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Alaskan Pork

John Stossel on the Coburn Amendment:
Big spender Ted Stevens [R-Alaska] responded to Coburn's good suggestion to kill a "Bridge to Nowhere" with a tantrum on the Senate floor: He threatened to resign and "be taken out of here on a stretcher."

Good! Sen. Stevens, please go. I'll even help carry the stretcher.

Unfortunately, Congress has an unwritten code: "Don't threaten the other congressmen's loot." The Senate reprimanded Coburn by voting 82 to 15 to save the Bridge to Nowhere.

The Ketchikan, Alaska, bridge is particularly egregious because it's a bridge to a nearly uninhabited island. Yet it will be monstrous -- higher than the Brooklyn Bridge and almost as long as the Golden Gate. Even some in Ketchikan laugh about it. One told us, "Short view is, I don't see a need for it. The long view ... I still don't see a need for it."

Last week, Alaska's other senator, Lisa Murkowski, said it would be "offensive" not to spend your money on her bridge. When she first became a senator, I asked her if Republicans believed in smaller government. She was unusually candid: "We want smaller government. But, boy, I sure want more highways and more stuff, whatever the stuff is."