THE HUNT FOR ELECTION-YEAR PORK INTENSIFIES
Politicians Abandon American Values, Would Rather Be Greedy
Here is a news update from Taxpayers for Common Sense. TCS is the best organization that monitors excessive government spending, corruption and corporate welfare.
Note: "pork" is a term for pointless giveaways of taxpayer money. For example, government spending on a needless project in the district of a lawmaker who is facing a tough re-election campaign. The spending assists the politician, but hurts every taxpayer. This kind of pork is un-American.
In the never-ending quest for pork, a merry band of lawmakers, led by Rep. Don Young (R-AK) is attempting to get the House of Representatives to vote next week on a controversial bill to authorize more than $3.4 billion in water projects, with little or no debate.
The Water Resources Development Act of 2002 (WRDA) will be considered under the "suspension of the rules," a Congressional procedure that allows for quick voice votes without any amendments and is usually reserved for non-controversial bills like renaming post offices and federal buildings. Under the current climate of a growing federal budget deficit, a bill containing billions of dollars of pork barrel spending should be controversial.
This legislation (H.R. 5428) would give the green light for the Army Corps of Engineers, an agency whose own leadership has confessed to massive accountability problems, to waste even more federal tax dollars. The Corps currently has a project backlog that will cost more than $58 billion to complete. At their current annual construction budget of less than $2 billion, the backlog won't be completed any time prior to 2032. Yet, Young and company propose to grow the backlog and neglect to demonstrate how new projects will be completed in a cost-effective and timely fashion.
The bill adds hundreds of new projects and project modifications that lack guidance or priorities, would authorize projects on which no cost-benefit tests have been performed and would push through a large number of projects that have circumvented the normal planning process. WRDA also exacerbates Corps "mission creep" by promoting projects that lie outside the agency's mission areas of navigation, flood control and environmental restoration.
There is more pork in this bill than there are pigs in Iowa. It approves $2.4 billion in new projects and programs, and provides more than $200 million in new drinking water and wastewater projects that are duplicative of existing programs at other agencies with the actual mission to construct them. One of the most egregious components of the bill is a billion dollar rollback of Reagan-era cost sharing rules for a handful of the largest water ports in America that would provide New Yorkers alone a $450 million windfall for their multi-billion dollar port project!
WRDA is not about wisely investing in our nation's water resources. In an act of typical election year pork politics, the bill proponents are attempting to steamroll this bill through Congress so that lawmakers don't go back to their districts empty-handed. For example, Rep. Don Young's gift to his constituents is a provision that will primarily benefit Alaskan seaports by allowing the Corps of Engineers to ignore normal rules that require projects' benefits to outweigh the cost of building the project.
By skirting the normal legislative process, the bill proponents would like to obstruct any efforts to fix the problems in the bill, leaving their opponents -- and democracy -- out in the cold.
If WRDA were a good bill, its backers wouldn't be afraid to go through the normal process of legislative checks and balances. Their colleagues need to thwart this shameful attempt to pull the wool over taxpayers' eyes.
For more information, contact Keith Ashdown at (202)-546-8500 ext. 110
or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org
TCS is at www.taxpayer.net
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