What's Next -- West 'Byrd'ginia? Congressional membership has its privileges. Members of Congress who bring home bacon have had many of these boondoggle projects named after them. Our nation’s countryside is littered with public works projects named after current and former lawmakers.
Politicians Special Privilege Disgrace
Taxpayers for Common Sense is the best organization that monitors excessive government spending, corruption and corporate welfare. Here is their latest news update.
Here is a rundown of some of our favorites:
Shortly after calling for substantial improvements to Alaska's airports last year, Sen. Ted Stevens (R-AK), who currently heads the Senate Appropriations committee, had the Anchorage airport renamed in his honor by state officials. The Wall Street Journal characterized the renaming as thanks from the state of Alaska for being “so generous … with other taxpayers' money.”
The largest U.S. Army Corps of Engineers project east of the Mississippi River, Thurmond Lake, is named after Senator Strom Thurmond (R-SC). The Corps of Engineers built the project between 1946 and 1954 and has budgeted $5,162,500 for Thurmond Lake for next year.
In the 1980s, Sen. J. Bennett Johnston (D-LA) rammed through the equally inefficient $ 2 billion Red River Waterway, which had been opposed by five consecutive presidential administrations and has barely attracted any new barge traffic. It was recently rechristened the J. Bennett Johnston Waterway.
Retired U.S. Representative Bud Shuster (R-PA) was notorious for his naming exploits. Taxpayers doled out $25 million for a "demonstration project" in his district that would later become the Bud Shuster Bypass and secured $287 million to transform narrow U.S. Route 220 into the four-lane Bud Shuster Highway.
Senator Robert C. Byrd (D-WV), who is known in some circles as the "Prince of Pork” and is set to take control of the powerful Senate Appropriations Committee in coming weeks, has more than 20 bridges, highways, and buildings in West Virginia named after him. Public works projects named after Byrd include the Robert C. Byrd Highway, the Robert C. Byrd Locks and Dam, and the Robert C. Byrd visitor Center at Harper's Ferry, WV.
These pork barrel memorials have become a perverse incentive for lawmakers to bring home the bacon. Let’s eliminate the ability of lawmakers to ensure a legacy on the taxpayer’s dime. Congress should prohibit the practice of naming publicly funded projects after sitting politicians and establish a reasonable waiting period for naming projects after retired lawmakers.
If you know of a pork barrel project named after a living politician or
would like 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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