Out of Control Policy Blog

Any hope of deporking that transportation bill?

Traditionally, there's been stuff to like about both Dems and Reps. Sure the Dems want your wallet, but at least they'd stand up for free speech, right?

Not really, says Matt Welch.

Likewise, with Bush outspending LBJ, Reps can no longer claim to be the party of limited government. And there's also the recently-passed $286 billion highway bill, which was jam-packed with 6,000 pieces of pork.

Remember the less bad old days?

    President Ronald Reagan once vetoed a highway bill because it contained 152 pet projects. Despite the pork inflation, Bush had no complaints about the current package when he signed it on Aug. 10. "This bill upgrades our transportation infrastructure," he declared. "And it accomplishes goals in a fiscally responsible way."

But might today's GOPers finally turn things around?

    [W]ith spiraling war and hurricane recovery costs, the pork-laden bill has become a political albatross for Republicans, who have been promising since President Bush took office to get rid of wasteful spending.

    ...

    [John] McCain and six other Senate Republicans want to reallocate the pork dollars in the bill to help pay for the damage caused by hurricanes Katrina and Rita. Rep. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.), one of eight House members who opposed the legislation, and who declined any special projects for his district, wants to rescind 10 percent of the bill's total cost and allow states to disregard the pet projects authorized by the legislation, and spend the money as they wish.

    "My guess is that most states would gladly forgo 10 percent of their funding for the ability to make funding decisions," Flake said.

    The Senate has already considered one proposal to scale back the legislation -- an amendment offered by Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) to cut funding for some of the projects special-ordered by Alaskan lawmakers and use the money saved to rebuild the Interstate 10 bridge over Lake Pontchartrain outside New Orleans. The I-10 bridge, a major transportation corridor, was shattered during the Katrina storm surge.

    Coburn's bid failed, but it gained widespread attention and attracted 15 Senate "yes" votes, a landslide, considering the political clout of [Alaskan porkmeister Ted] Stevens, a former chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee and a formidable force in Congress. In a display of outrage, Stevens threatened to resign from the Senate if Coburn's measure succeeded.

Article here.

Ted Balaker is Producer


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