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Highway Bill Full of Special Projects
AP ^ | 8/2/05 | Jim Abrams

Posted on 08/02/2005 11:53:42 AM PDT by Tumbleweed_Connection

A half century ago, when President Eisenhower proposed the first national highway bill, there were two projects singled out for funding. Last week, when Congress passed the latest multiyear bill, there were, by one estimate, 6,371 of these special projects, a record that some say politicians should be ashamed of.

The projects in the six-year, $286.4 billion highway and mass transit bill range from $200,000 for a deer avoidance system in Weedsport, N.Y., to $330 million for a highway in Bakersfield., Calif.

For the beneficiaries, almost every member of Congress, they bring jobs and better quality lives to their communities and states. To critics, they are pork barrel spending at its worst.

"Egregious and remarkable," exclaimed Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., about the estimated $24 billion in the bill set aside for highways, bus stops, parking lots and bike trails requested by lawmakers.

McCain, one of only four senators to oppose the bill, listed several dozen "interesting" projects, including $480,000 to rehabilitate a historic warehouse on the Erie Canal and $3 million for dust control mitigation on Arkansas rural roads.

His favorite, he said, was $2.3 million for landscaping on the Ronald Reagan Freeway in California. "I wonder what Ronald Reagan would say."

Reagan, in fact, vetoed a highway bill over what he said were spending excesses, only to be overridden by Congress. Meanwhile, according to a Cato Institute analysis, special projects or "earmarks" numbered 10 in 1982, 152 in 1987, 538 in 1991 and 1,850 in 1998. The 1998 highway act set aside some $9 billion for earmarks, well under half the newest plan.

"This bill will be known as the most earmarked transportation bill in the history of our nation," said Keith Ashdown, vice president of policy for Taxpayers for Common Sense, which tracks such projects in congressional legislation.

President Bush also threatened to veto the measure over spending issues, and it took nearly two years for Congress to reach a compromise that the White House would accept.

Deciding how much will go to earmarks, however, is very much up to Congress, and few lawmakers are willing to turn down a new road or bridge in their district.

"Nothing beats a ribbon-cutting ceremony on a new piece of pavement," said Peter Sepp, spokesman for National Taxpayers Union. "Road projects are regarded as a kind of government jobs program that Republicans can safely embrace."

Lawmakers were sending out press releases bragging of their accomplishments even before the bill was passed, said Tom Schatz, president of Citizens Against Government Waste. "It's a symbol of why everything else is out of control, not just highways."

The biggest beneficiaries tend to be the lawmakers with the biggest clout.

Alaska, the third-least populated state, got the fourth most in earmarks, $941 million, thanks largely to the work of its lone representative, Transportation Committee Chairman Don Young. That included $231 million for a bridge near Anchorage to be named "Don Young's Way" in honor of the Republican.

Meanwhile, House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Bill Thomas, R-Calif., nailed down $630 million, including $330 million for the Centennial Corridor Loop in Bakersfield, according to Taxpayers for Common Sense.

The highway bill is one area where the minority Democrats aren't forgotten. Rep. James Oberstar of Minnesota, top Democrat on the Transportation Committee, listed 57 projects totaling $121 million he won for his district, from $8 million for a highway project to $560,000 for the Paul Bunyon State Trail.

Rep. Nick Rahall, D-W.Va., said in a press release that he had "used his seniority" on the Transportation Committee to gain $16 million for the eponymous Nick J. Rahall II Appalachian Transportation Institute at Marshall University.

Not every lawmaker came seeking gifts. Two conservative Republicans from Arizona, Jeff Flake and John Shadegg, wrote Young asking that the $14 million the committee was allotting to each House member for earmarks be sent instead to the state transportation department.

Flake's office said that in the end he didn't take any projects, and Flake and Shadegg were two of only eight House members to vote against the bill.


TOPICS: Front Page News; Government; News/Current Events
KEYWORDS: 109th; federalspending; highwaybill; news

1 posted on 08/02/2005 11:53:43 AM PDT by Tumbleweed_Connection
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To: Tumbleweed_Connection

Can you imagine working for a company that has a little more than 500 employees, and has the following statistics:

* 29 have been accused of spousal abuse
* 7 have been arrested for fraud
* 19 have been accused of writing bad checks
* 117 h! ave directly or indirectly bankrupted at least 2 businesses
* 3 have done time for assault
* 71 cannot get a credit card due to bad credit
* 14 have been arrested on drug-related charges
* 8 have been arrested for shoplifting
* 21 are currently defendants in lawsuits
* 84 have been arrested for drunk driving in the last year...

Can you guess which organization this is?

Give up yet?

It's the 435 members of the United States Congress.
The same group that cranks out hundreds of new laws each year designed to keep the rest of us in line.


2 posted on 08/02/2005 12:04:52 PM PDT by Squantos (Be polite. Be professional. But, have a plan to kill everyone you meet. ©)
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To: Tumbleweed_Connection

Pigs at the trough.....


3 posted on 08/02/2005 12:05:39 PM PDT by SouthernBoyupNorth ("For my wings are made of Tungsten, my flesh of glass and steel..........")
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To: Squantos

Ya get what ya vote for.


4 posted on 08/02/2005 12:07:34 PM PDT by Wolfie
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To: Squantos

Thanks. And the Swimmer....


5 posted on 08/02/2005 12:07:42 PM PDT by Tumbleweed_Connection (I urge Roberts to support all sections of the Constitution which uphold abortion)
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To: Tumbleweed_Connection
I think us MA residents screwed the country through Teddy with the worst, most incompetently built and most expensive pet project to date.

Good job Teddy.....screwing the country for 3 decades....and counting. No wonder he's so damned fat.....all that pork can't be good for ya.

6 posted on 08/02/2005 12:29:00 PM PDT by ElectricStrawberry (27th Infantry Regiment...cut in half during the Clinton years....Nec Aspera Terrent!!!)
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To: Wolfie

That's right. And you won't see anyone campaigning on a platform of "I won't be bringing any pork home to the district because I want to cut government spending". Unfortunately, the only way the politicians know to get and keep their jobs is to promise and work for wealth redistribution through portk barrel spending.


7 posted on 08/02/2005 12:36:48 PM PDT by Chuckster (Neca eos omnes. Deus suos agnoset)
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To: Tumbleweed_Connection

We vote them in and let them screw us out of more tax dollars...


8 posted on 08/02/2005 1:04:18 PM PDT by mtbopfuyn (Legality does not dictate morality... Lavin)
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To: mtbopfuyn

Yesterday I read one blog is created something like every 10 seconds, people are learning


9 posted on 08/02/2005 1:22:09 PM PDT by Tumbleweed_Connection (I urge Roberts to support all sections of the Constitution which uphold abortion)
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To: Squantos

Wow! Where did that info come from?


10 posted on 08/02/2005 1:50:19 PM PDT by Straight Vermonter (John 6: 51-58)
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To: Chuckster

""The American Republic will endure, until politicians realize they can bribe the people with their own money." - A. de Tocqueville


11 posted on 08/02/2005 1:52:15 PM PDT by Straight Vermonter (John 6: 51-58)
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To: Tumbleweed_Connection

"I am shocked - SHOCKED - that there is pork in this highway bill!"

12 posted on 08/02/2005 3:44:27 PM PDT by inquest (FTAA delenda est)
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To: Tumbleweed_Connection

Maybe my math is off, but 9 billion into 280 million works out to roughly $30 a head. And if we look at only the half that pays taxes, we're looking at $60 a head.

I dunno about y'all, but I wouldn't pay a plug nickel for a bridge over Anchorage Bay.

And these SOBs call themselves conservatives.

And we elect them.

Ask yourself in 2006 if your congressman took that money. And ask yourself if he's really much better than the other guy if he's pissing 9 billion bucks away into 'deer avoidance systems' and other such pork projects. Especially when your kids are the ones paying for it.


13 posted on 08/02/2005 10:03:06 PM PDT by LibertarianInExile (Kelo, Grutter, Raich and Roe-all them gotta go. Roberts on+2 liberals off=let's start the show!)
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To: Wolfie

Ya get what ya vote for.


Not always.


14 posted on 08/02/2005 11:06:13 PM PDT by Just Lori (I'm too tired to play tag.)
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To: Wolfie

Yes, but other times ya get what ya don't vote for, too.


15 posted on 08/02/2005 11:27:44 PM PDT by dr_who_2
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To: Straight Vermonter

Yup! That's the way democracy works.


16 posted on 08/03/2005 12:17:18 PM PDT by Chuckster (Neca eos omnes. Deus suos agnoset)
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To: Squantos
Sorry, it seems that that stat, while perfectly believable, is a bit misleading at best and part urban legend at worst.
17 posted on 08/10/2005 5:55:18 PM PDT by SeanEBoy
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To: Squantos

* 84 have been arrested for drunk driving in the last year...


Wow, is there a source for this?

That's almost 20%


18 posted on 08/10/2005 5:57:56 PM PDT by Sometimes A River (Che Guevera isn't cool)
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To: inquest

Considering there were 2 pork projects in the first one, and now there are over 6,300, we should be shocked.

GOP = Borrow and Spend

Dems = Tax and Spend


19 posted on 08/10/2005 5:59:11 PM PDT by Sometimes A River (Che Guevera isn't cool)
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To: Acts 2:38
All the more reason to get the federal government out of this business and turn it back over to the states, where it belongs.
20 posted on 08/10/2005 7:22:03 PM PDT by inquest (FTAA delenda est)
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