2006 April 18 Tuesday
Congress Sets New Spending Earmark Record

The Congressional spending bender continues.

WASHINGTON Ė Remember Alaska's "bridge to nowhere"? It's about to be topped by what critics call Mississippi's "railroad to nowhere," which is quickly becoming the poster child for excessive spending by the Republican-controlled Congress.

The project, which was added to a $106.5 billion emergency defense spending bill in the Senate, would relocate a Gulf Coast rail line inland, to higher ground. Never mind that the hurricane-battered line was just repaired at a cost of at least $250 million. Or that at $700 million, the project championed by Mississippi's two US senators is being called the largest "earmark" ever.

The Congressional whores of Babylon set a new record.

"There's never been a single earmark anywhere near $700 million," says Ronald Utt, a senior fellow at the Heritage Foundation, a conservative think tank in Washington. Tuesday he released a report, "Deadly Sin: Larding up Emergency Appropriations," which details the CSX freight line relocation plan. "That's more than twice the size of the [$223 million] bridge to nowhere."

Fiscal prudence, what sort of heretical notion is that?

President George W. Bush requested an emergency appropriation of $92 billion for operations in Iraq and Afghanistan and another round of hurricane recovery. The House approved the request, but the Senate Appropriations Committee has loaded the measure with $14 billion in new spending, most unrelated to national security or hurricane recovery. Still not satisfied, Senators are now readying floor amendments to add as much as $10 billion more in spending, which would push the price tag to $24 billion above the Presidentís request.[1]

This new spending is tremendously irresponsible considering the state of the budget. Congress has already boosted spending by 45 percent since 2001 to a post-war record of $23,760 per household.[2] On top of that, the Senate started this year by adding $16 billion to the Presidentís discretionary budget request.[3] This is at a time where the new Medicare prescription drug benefit is projected to cost over $1 trillion through 2016. Entitlement programsí liabilities, public debt, and other liabilities such as veteransí and federal employee retirement costs already total $375,000 for every full time worker in America. [4] The Senateís actions show a clear disregard for this huge fiscal burden Americans already face.

But Americans elected these turkeys. What does that say about Americans? Nothing good.

The farmer piggies weren't getting enough already. Oink! Oink!

$4 billion for farm bailouts, which comes on top of the $25 billion that will be spent this year on farm subsidies, even as farm income reaches near-record highs;

The role played by Mississippi in this latest spending splurge is made possible by Mississippi Senator Thad Cochran's replacement of Ted Stevens of Alaska as chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee

Share |      By Randall Parker at 2006 April 18 09:50 PM  Politics Money

Rick Darby said at April 19, 2006 6:26 AM:

The bigger picture of which this is a part is described in Bonner and Wiggin's Empire of Debt, which I'm currently reading. It's not the perennial how-to-get-rich-in-the-coming-crash financial best seller; it seems to me a witty and easy-to-read, but quite sophisticated, warning. Some of it may be exaggerated for effect, and yes, the market always climbs some wall of worry, but this time the sky really may be falling.

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