Specific Examples of Pork Barrel Politics

The Pork page is a discussion of pork barrel politics in general.  This page is a collection of specific examples, including a subsection about Farm subsidies.

The most famous examples are covered on other pages:
The Big Dig in Boston.
Senator Lott's Railroad Line — The Railroad to Nowhere.
Sweetheart deal for Boeing.
The National Endowment for the Arts.
Electric cars.
The V-22 Osprey.

In my opinion, NASA is a huge waste of money, but apparently I'm the only one who thinks so.

Another big money waster is the taxpayer-funded stadium, ballpark, or arena in your city, possibly built on land seized by the city, but almost certainly given huge tax breaks in exchange for ... nothing!

Here's a prime example:
$18 million to rebuild a web site

Apparently the Recovery.gov web site was perfectly adequate and completely functional, yet someone with political connections has been awarded a lucrative contract to rebuild it.  Such a project could be undertaken by any web designer, anywhere in the country.  There are probably thousands of people who could have done this work for a small fraction of $18 million.

Hoyer-linked firm wins $18M Recovery.gov contract.  According to FEC records, Smartronix president, Mohammed Javaid, vice president Alan Parris, and partner John Parris have together given $19,000 to House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D) since 1999.  There is no record of a Smartronix employee contributing to any other federal politician.

Is $18M too much for a website?  Is $9.5 million too much to pay to create a website that tracks government stimulus spending in detail?  How about an additional $8.5 million to maintain that site after its creation, through January 2014?  The Recovery Accountability and Transparency board, which is tasked with tracking federal stimulus funding through the Recovery.gov website, does not think that too steep a price.

Many unanswered questions about Hoyer, $18 million Recovery.gov redesign award.  One of the great things about journalism is that you never know where a story is going to lead.  So it was earlier this week when I saw a notice that the federal government had awarded an $18 million, multi-year contract to redesign the Recovery.gov web site to Smartronix, an obscure Maryland firm.

Editor's note:
There is no mention of the name "Hoyer" in this article:
Obama team spending $18 million to redesign Recovery.gov already.  Recovery.gov is the Obama administration's website for tracking government stimulus spending.  Will there soon be a tracking explanation of the $18 million that the administration has recently dedicated to redesigning and maintaining the newly-launched site for the next four and a half years?  The Maryland-based Smartronix Inc. won a bid for $9.5 million to redesign the already-functional Recovery.gov by January and up to $18 million through 2014, according to a press release from the General Services Administration.

Update:  After all that expense, the web site doesn't work!
New website can't track paths of federal stimulus grants.  The goal was to build a reporting system that allows the public to follow the zigzagging paths of dollars awarded under the $787 billion federal stimulus package.  A financial GPS of sorts.  But despite federal lawmakers' pledge of transparency, the final stages of most money trails, along with key information about job impacts, will remain invisible to users of the Recovery.org website when it debuts next month.

Buckley's 'Modest Proposal' Would Erase 18% Of The Federal Budget.  Roughly one-sixth of the federal budget goes for nothing that's a matter of national concern, but for grants to state and local governments.  Those grants fund a vast array of programs and projects, such as:
  •   $65 million so New York and New Jersey can promote themselves as "good places to do business."
  •   $3.9 million for the airport in St. Cloud, MN, which has no daily commuter flights.
  •   $532,000 to beautify one block on Main Street in Rossville, KS (pop. 1,150).

Obama Library: 67 Percent of Illinois Voters Oppose State-Financing Plan.  A new poll from Capitol Fax's Rich Miller reveals that a whopping 67 percent of prospective voters here in Illinois oppose the Michael Madigan-sponsored plan to earmark $100 million for Barack Obama's presidential library and museum.

Sen. Levin tries to legislate a parking place.  The same month that Michigan Democratic Sen. Carl Levin bought his first electric car, he sponsored legislation to establish battery recharge stations in the Capitol complex's parking areas.  The bill would give the Architect of the Capitol (AOC) the authority to provide recharging stations for electric vehicles in Senate parking lots.  Levin introduced the bill in April of last year, the same month he purchased his Chevy Volt.

Political pork that stinks — literally.  Pork-barrel spending comes with an odor this year — pig.  The long list of pet projects passed by Congress in a record deficit year includes $1.8 million to study why pigs smell.  Other gems include $1.9 million for a water taxi in Connecticut, $3.8 million to preserve a baseball stadium in Detroit and $380,000 for a fairgrounds in Kotzebue, Alaska, just above the Arctic Circle.

Harry Reid's Land Grab:  [Scroll down slowly]  Then, as to be expected in an omnibus bill, there's the pork.  California Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D.) is requesting $461 million to legally settle a dispute over the San Joaquin River with the environmentalist group Natural Resources Defense Council.  The money would be used for a water project that has the "minimum goal" of restoring 500 salmon to the river.  (That's nearly $1 million per fish!)

Murtha's Earmarks Keep Airport Aloft.  The John Murtha airport sits on a windy mountain two hours east of Pittsburgh, a 650-acre expanse of smooth tarmac, spacious buildings, a helicopter hangar and a National Guard training center.  Inside the terminal on a recent weekday, four passengers lined up to board a flight, outnumbered by seven security staff members and supervisors, all suited up in gloves and uniforms to screen six pieces of luggage.

Dems bomb Murtha's airport.  Eleven Democrats crossed the aisle to support a GOP-sponsored resolution blocking any future funding for Jack Murtha's lushly appointed and under-used airport in Johnstown, Penn.

Kennedy pushes $100m item for Massachusetts.  For the second year in a row the Pentagon has insisted that it doesn't need another engine for its next-generation fighter jet.  And again, Senator Edward M. Kennedy and other powerful lawmakers are forcing it to build one anyway.  Tucked in the annual defense bill moving through Congress is $480 million to develop a spare engine for the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter even though the Air Force concluded in 2005 that it was redundant — and two independent review boards agreed.

Database of Alaska pork projects

Tropical Fish With Your Pork?  The patriotic-sounding bill is dubbed the "U.S. Troop Readiness, Veterans' Health, and Iraq Accountability Act," but the subtitle could be, "And Don't Forget Farmers, Shrimpers, NASA and Other Regulars at Uncle Sam's Buffet."  The final version worked out to about $742 million a page.
It includes...
•  $4 million for the Office of Women's Health at the Food and Drug Administration.
•  $5 million for tropical fish breeders and transporters for losses from a virus last year.
•  $283 million for the Milk Income Loss Contract Program.

Democrats aim to tack pet spending projects onto Iraq bill.  While Democrats try to restrict how President Bush can spend the $100 billion he wants for Iraq, they also hope to load his measure up with $10 billion in add-ons — from aid for Great Plains farmers to help for children lacking health insurance and better levees in New Orleans.

[Alabama] Legislators Need a Pork-Free Diet:  Recently, there have been several articles in The Birmingham News about Democrat lawmakers passing more than $180,000 through their local school system to public service agencies linked to friends and families.  Enough is enough.

Entitlement Mentality:  If you forgot to get a Christmas present for Charlie Rangel, don't worry.  The congressman picked one out for himself, and he's sending you the bill:  $2 million for a shiny new Charles B. Rangel Center for Public Service at City College.  The New York Democrat's Monument to Me was one of about 9,000 earmarks in the omnibus spending bill Congress approved before going on vacation.

Open Books and Let the Sun Shine In.  In these tough budgetary times, how much money are state taxpayers coughing up for museums?  And would you be interested to know that the state Department of Tourism and Recreation spent $206,933.65 on "Travel" in 2007?  How about the fact that the Secretary of State's office spent $65,609.83 for "Office Furniture & Equipment" in 2006, but almost five times that amount in 2007?  Or that the state college paid $26,377.80 to Pepsi?

The Tobacco Deal — Smokescreen for Bigger Government?  Politicians waged the so-called "tobacco wars" in the name of the taxpayers. Yet now that this long-shot bet has paid off, many of them are proposing a raft of new spending measures that will expand the role of government and strand future taxpayers in a sea of liabilities.

Maybe Pigs Really Do Fly.  [Scroll down] Some of the other "pork barrel" projects that were included in the 2008 Omnibus Spending Bill:
 •  $10 million for attorneys of ILLEGAL immigrants
 •  $100,000 for a swimming pool in Ottawa, Kansas
 •  $1.5 million for the Rep. Richard Gephardt Archive at the Missouri Historical Society
 •  $576,000 to manage weeds (no location specified)
 •  $700,000 for a bike trail in Minnesota
 •  $1 million for a river walk in Massachusetts
 •  $100,000 for signage in Los Angeles' fashion district
 •  $250,000 for a wine and culinary center in Prosser, Washington
 •  $113,000 for rodent control in Alaska
 •  $213,000 for olive fruit fly research in FRANCE
 •  $200,000 for hunting and fishing museum in Pennsylvania
 •  $200,000 for post office museum in downtown Las Vegas

Woodstock Museum Funding Proposed by Hillary Clinton Shot Down in Senate.  Hippies used to say if you remember Woodstock, you weren't really there.  Republicans say presidential contender Hillary Rodham Clinton can forget about getting $1 million in taxpayer funds for a Woodstock museum.

Earmark War on the Senate Floor.  Republican Sens. Tom Coburn (Okla.) and Sen. Jim DeMint (S.C.) spearheaded efforts to eliminate two egregious earmarks tucked into the fiscal year 2008 Labor Health and Human Services spending bill.  Coburn zeroed in on a $1 million earmark that had been secured by New York Sens. Hillary Clinton and Charles Schumer for a Woodstock concert museum.  Veteran conservative reporter Bob Novak called it "flower power pork" in a Thursday column.

Hillary's Earmark for Gay Men's Health.  Sen. Hillary Clinton (D.-N.Y.) lost a $1 million earmark to fund a Woodstock museum in Liberty, New York yesterday [10/18/2007], but was successful in securing $350,000 tax dollars to fund the Gay Men's Health Crisis, Inc.

Clinton linked to $340 million in earmarks.  Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton helped secure more than $340 million worth of special projects for her home state of New York in last year's spending bills, according to a new study by a government watchdog group.  The figure places her among the top 10 Senate recipients of what are commonly known as earmarks, said the group, Taxpayers for Common Sense.

Will McCain Oppose $845 Billion Earmark?  Some of the politicians on Capitol Hill regularly and sometimes secretly attach costly "earmarks" to bills to benefit special interests.  Since Senator John McCain says he wants to eliminate those earmarks, he should start with the Barack Obama bill, the Global Poverty Act (S. 2344), which itself is a vastly expanded form of earmark.  It commits the U.S. to spending $845 billion to eradicate poverty in the rest of the world.

The Capital Spenders:  The reigning king of pork is West Virginia Democratic Sen. Robert Byrd.  In the current budget, Byrd slipped in $11,612,000 for projects in his state, including $4.4 million for GIS Center of Excellence at West Virginia University, $3.6 million for the Appalachian Fruit Laboratory in Kearneysville and $150,000 for turfgrass research in Beaver.

An End to Earmarks?  Altogether, Congress approved more then 11,900 earmarks last year, many of them indefensible.  How indefensible?  Consider Rep. David Hobson's (R-Ohio) allocation of $800,000 for a new Speedway SuperAmerica gas station, convenience store, and pizza parlor at the intersection of U.S. Route 42 and Brush Row Road in Wilberforce, Ohio (population: 2,000).  If you doubt this project serves a compelling national interest, perhaps you haven't read the local newspaper's fawning report.

The $10M "Gift" Nobody Wanted.  The "gift" was $10 million tax dollars earmarked from Congress for traffic needs.  But not just any traffic need.  The money had to be used to connect Coconut Road, a deadend street, with the major Interstate I-75.

Congress Considers Costly Bailouts for Amtrak, Metro.  In the few weeks left before Congress adjourns to campaign, it will consider the appropriations bills needed to fund the federal government in fiscal year 2007, which begins on October 1, as well as several other costly spending bills that would benefit influential constituencies.  Chief among the latter are bills that would spend $1.5 billion over ten years to bail out Washington, D.C.'s troubled public transit system and $11.4 billion over six years to bail out Amtrak.

H.R. 3496:  The Biggest Pork Barrel Earmark in History?  Representative Tom Davis (R-VA) is requesting the House of Representatives to consider an amendment (H.R. 3496, as revised) to the Deep Water Energy Resources Act (H.R. 4761) that would divert $1.5 billion of federal revenues earned through offshore drilling to subsidize the deeply troubled Metro transit system serving the nation's capital and his congressional district.  If enacted, this earmark would be one of the largest ever passed -- seven times larger than Alaska's "Bridge to Nowhere" and twice as large as Mississippi's "Train to Nowhere."

Ten Stupid Ways Politicians Will Spend Tax Dollars:  The Libertarian Party used this tax deadline day to remind Americans about all the "ridiculous" ways that politicians will use to "squander" taxpayers' money, including a retirement program for chimpanzees!

Pork Barrel Spending - The Absurd.
    $1.2 million to study the breeding habits of the woodchuck.
    $150,000 to study the Hatfield-McCoy feud.
    $1 million to study why people don't ride bikes to work.
    $219,000 to teach college students how to watch television.

Pork Barrel Spending - Private Concerns.
    $3.1 million to convert a ferry boat into a crab restaurant in Baltimore.
    $13 million to repair a privately owned dam in South Carolina.
    $4.3 million for a privately owned museum in Johnstown, Pennsylvania.
    $2.7 million for a catfish farm in Arkansas.

Catfish, Mulberry Seeds, & Cows in a Bubble.  Our rights and freedoms are disappearing in exchange for those tempting grant dollars.  Invasive programs are taking over our counties and municipalities that are "incentive driven" which means "they'll take on any program with a grant attached."

Virginia Pork Barrel projects:  Look on pages 31-41 of this document for a list of projects funded by the Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles, including $60,000 for "Click it or Ticket".

Railroad Seeks $2 Billion Government Loan.  Sen. John Thune (R-SD) has added language to a federal railroad bill to enable the Dakota, Minnesota and Eastern Railroad Corporation to secure a $2.3 billion loan from the federal government, more than twice the size of the Chrysler Corporation bailout in 1979.  The loan would fund part of a $6 billion project by the railroad to rebuild 600 miles of track and add 260 new miles of track to low-sulfur coal mines in the Powder River Basin of Wyoming.

Taxpayer Rip-Off of the Week:  $1 Million for the Griffith Observatory Planetarium.  Those eager to see what exactly their tax dollars are being spent on, however, are out of luck.  The Observatory is currently closed while it undergoes its first major renovation and expansion, making good use, no doubt, of its Department of Defense dollars.

Pork Barrel Spending — The Absurd.  $219,000 to teach college students how to watch television.  $57,000 spent by the Executive Branch for gold-embossed playing cards on Air Force Two.

The unending battle against pork barrel spending:  In one appropriations bill being debated recently in the House of Representatives, Rep. Jerry Lewis had included an earmark for $500,000 for a swimming pool in Banning, Calif.  That's pretty steep for one pool.  Especially when you consider, as The Heritage Foundation's Tim Chapman notes in his Townhall.com blog, that Lewis secured money for the same pool before — $250,000 in FY 2006 and $250,000 in FY 2005.  "When this bill passes, Lewis will have secured a total of $1 million for one pool," Chapman writes.

Questioning the Need for $1.18 Million Regional Prisons Museum.  Readers who posted comments on the Leavenworth Times' recent online article about the project questioned its viability, calling it a "waste of MY money," a "useless museum," and writing that it will add "NOTHING in the way of real jobs or useful work."

Northrop's $500 Million Earmark.  Since [Hurricane] Katrina, Northrop's Market Cap has exploded by $4.69 Billion, or a whopping 24.5% in just seven months.  And this company needs a $500,000,000 taxpayer bailout for its ship building division?

Road Pork's Gotta Go, or the Deficit's Gonna Grow.  [Paul] Gessing noted that Congress's overspending problems have manifested themselves throughout the federal government, ranging from farm subsidies to the "No Child Left Behind Act" to the Medicare prescription drug benefit.

Energy piracy:  The Senate voted 85 to 12 in favor of a 768-page grab-bag full of subsidies, tax breaks, loan guarantees and mandates.  They describe this, gratuitously, as an "energy bill."  The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) estimates that "implementing the bill would cost $5.1 billion in 2006 and $35.9 billion over the 2006-2010 period."  Despite the bill's well-worn rationale of reducing energy imports, the senators obviously don't expect all that pork to make a dent in energy imports.

Congressional Energy Bills Pump Ethanol, Billions in Tax Breaks.  The boost for ethanol is one of many objections critics of the new federal energy legislation now in conference committee cite.  The Senate bill would cost the federal budget $56 billion in subsidies and tax breaks over 10 years.  The House version would cost nearly $90 billion.

Note:  More information about the costs and the questionable benefits of ethanol can be found here.

Corporate Welfare at Its Worst.  The Advanced Technology Program may be the most offensively unnecessary program in Washington.  If lawmakers cannot even close down ATP, then they clearly are not ready to make the larger and more complicated decisions necessary to bring the budget under control.

$388 Billion spending bill clears its final hurdle.  The legislation includes more than 11,000 so-called pork projects totaling more than $15 billion.  They include $2 million for "kitchen relocation" in Fairbanks, Alaska; $1.5 million to "transport naturally chilled water" from Lake Ontario to Lake Onondaga; and $167,000 for "Horn fly research" in Alabama.

Cut the spending.  [Some of the] "golden eggs" laid by the Congressional geese include $450,000 for the Baseball Hall of Fame, $200,000 for the Dennison Railroad Depot Museum in Ohio, $350,000 for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, $1.5 million for the Anchorage Museum/Transit intermodal depot in Alaska, $250,000 for the Country Music Hall of Fame, $100,000 for the Municipal Swimming Pool in Ottawa, Kan., $35,000 for the Alabama Sports Hall of Fame, $300,000 to build the Great Falls parking garage in Auburn, Maine, and $1.5 million for departing Congressman Richard Gephardt's archive at the Missouri Historical Society.  There is no mandate in the Constitution, or anywhere else, for unnecessary and wasteful spending at any time, much less in a time of record deficits and debt.

New York's First-Class Junket Junkies:  Rep. Eliot Engel has whisked his wife to first-class resorts in San Juan and Las Vegas, Wyoming and Florida – and barely spent a nickel.  The Bronx Democrat escorted his 23-year-old daughter on a $5,300 junket to New Orleans – and took his teenage son to Seattle and London and Jerusalem, gratis.  He even scored an $8,000 freebie for his 83-year-old mother, who joined him for nine balmy days at the Bellagio in Vegas and another hot spot in La Jolla, Calif.

Ron Paul Fights Overseas Pork Spending.  "Our meddling in Colombia not only is unconstitutional, it's absolutely useless.  Drug production in Colombia is growing each year.  It's simply not the job of American taxpayers to police Colombia, and Congress displays incredible arrogance when it funds overseas pork.  I've never had a constituent ask me to send more of their tax dollars to China, Colombia, or any other foreign country."

Congressional Leadership Brings Home the Pork.  The 3,016-page and $388.4 billion omnibus spending bill that Congress approved November 20 [2004] included thousands of earmarks, otherwise known as "pork-barrel" projects.  They include $2,000,000 for the East Tennessee Methamphetamine Taskforce; $1,000,000 for a Downtown Transit Center in Nashville; $500,000 for the Memphis Zoo; $1,500,000 for the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police; $800,000 for the Las Vegas Post Office Museum.

Keeping Taxpayer Dollars Grounded in Reality:  Sikorsky's Comanche helicopter had it all:  dazzling graphics, wide political support, great promises.  There was just one problem:  The helicopter literally never took off.  After 21 years and 8 billion taxpayer dollars, Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld mercifully killed the program last February.

Imperial Transportation Bureaucrat Says Yes to Lavish Offices, No to Armed Pilots.  Undersecretary John Magaw, the chief of the new Transportation Security Administration, has been very busy lately.  He just spent $410,000 of your tax dollars installing lavish fixtures in his new office suite at the Transportation department headquarters.  Of course this is nothing new in Washington.  Self-indulgent bureaucrats routinely get away with wasteful extravagance.  It's rare, however, when they are caught red handed, and it's important to expose such behavior whenever possible.  Taxpayers deserve better and should demand his resignation.

AmeriPork Takes a Whack:  In a move that upset the hogs that gorge at the federal trough, the House of Representatives cut out $100 million from a disaster spending bill that would have funded 20,000 positions in the Corporation for National Service, better known as AmeriCorps.

Statement on Omnibus Spending Bill.  The Omnibus spending bill just passed by Congress includes thousands of frivolous, bizarre and special interest earmarks for every congressional district in the nation, such as $50 million for an indoor education rainforest in Coralville, Iowa.

It's Time to Roast the Pig.  In the year 2001, Congress appropriated $340,000,000 in federal tax dollars to PBS (Public Broadcasting Services).  I'm sure that Barney the purple dinosaur and Big Bird appreciate this generous gesture, but they are hardly worthy of our tax dollars!  So the next time you turn on PBS (if you actually watch it) and see them asking for donations, remember that you are already a sponsor.

Profiles in Pork:  Johnny Appleseed Meets Uncle Sam.  Though most of us will never visit the "Johnny Appleseed Heritage Center and Outdoor Drama," as it is now called, it will receive $450,000 of the money that we pay in federal taxes over the next year.

Profiles in Pork:  A Rainforest on the Prairie.  The Iowa Child project began with one dreamer and one idea.  Maybe it was a bad idea, but that doesn't seem to have been an impediment yet.

America is for aliens.  Did you know that only $20.3 billion of the $87 billion [Bush requested for Iraq] — merely 23 percent — is dedicated to Iraq's reconstruction?  You can imagine the rake-offs in the remaining 77 percent.  This is the greatest pork-barrel rip-off of the American taxpayer in history.

Privatize the Space Program:  The space shuttle was built and maintained to please clashing constituencies, not to do a clearly defined job for which there was an economic and technical need.

NASA and pork barrel spending:  A list of NASA projects totaling $140,200,000.

Feds' Anti-drug Ads Cost Almost $2 Billion With No Effect:  In the past five years the federal government has spent nearly $2 billion in anti-drug ads, with apparently no effect in diminishing illegal substance use.  And a recent study suggests that the ads may have actually increased drug use among the young.  But at the same time wants Congress to continue funding the $1.8 billion taxpayer money pit.

Who Says Government Programs Have to Work?  The list of programs that fail, whose unintended consequences exacerbate problems, simply boggles the mind.  Take the recently expanded Title I.  Secretary of Education Rod Paige once said, "After spending $125 billion … over 25 years, we have virtually nothing to show for it.  Fewer than a third of fourth-graders can read at grade level."

$24,000 sofa among luxuries bought by Army and Air Force:  A $24,000 sofa and armchair.  An $1,800 pillow.  And $45,800 in silver and china.  Such accoutrements would cause little surprise if found in the abodes of the wealthy and well-known.  But government auditors discovered these pricey items -- and many more -- not in a mansion but at Air Force and Army bases in Saudi Arabia, the rest of the Persian Gulf, Europe and the Balkans.

Save Us from Great Ideas:  In 1984, the $70 million AutoWorld theme park opened in Flint, Michigan, amid much fanfare and hoopla.  Situated on nearly seven acres of land downtown, the park was supposed to draw 900,000 visitors every year and help revive a dying inner city.  It had the enthusiastic support of city and state officials and many big-name Flint citizens.  Half the $70 million it took to build the facility came from federal, state, and city governments.  Sixteen years later, nothing remains of the park.

List of 562 Indian tribes  recognized and eligible for funding and services from the Bureau of Indian Affairs.

Farm subsidies

This subsection has moved to this page.

This is an original compilation, Copyright © 2013 by Andrew K. Dart

Airline bailouts

Brother Can you Spare 20 Billion Dollars:  Bailing out the airlines?  Why not bail out every affected industry?

Airline bailout criticized:  Libertarians say "it was a $15 billion mistake".

Unions' Stranglehold on Airlines:  Terrorism, the war in Iraq and other external factors are not the root cause of the airlines' financial woes.  The stage was already set even before September 11.  Why are airlines bleeding cash?  Labor costs.

Bridges to Nowhere

Stevens wins Senate fight for Alaska's $230 million bridge.  The president pro tem of the Senate got his $230 million bridge, but only after he threatened to quit if he didn't.

[So?  Let him quit.]

The Bridge to Nowhere:  A National Embarrassment.  Dubbed the "Bridge to Nowhere," the bridge in Alaska would connect the town of Ketchikan (population 8,900) with its airport on the Island of Gravina (population 50) at a cost to federal taxpayers of $320 million, by way of three separate earmarks in the recent highway bill.

Support for Alaska's 'Bridge to Nowhere' Collapses.  Alaska officials have dropped their fight to build the infamous "Bridge to Nowhere," a proposed project that millions of Americans viewed as a symbol of political pork-barrel spending at its worst. … The project would have involved building a bridge nearly as long as San Francisco's Golden Gate Bridge to link the city of Ketchikan and Gravina Island, home to the local airport and about 50 permanent residents.  A seven-minute ferry ride now takes passengers from the island to the mainland and back.

Devolution is the real lesson of the bridge-to-nowhere scandal.  Taxpayers understandably got outraged when it was revealed that Alaska politicians were using the highway bill to fund egregious pork barrel projects.  They got even more upset when they discovered that these pork barrel projects were lining the pockets of close relatives of the politicians.  But the real lesson to be learned, as the Wall Street Journal explains, is that the federal government should not be involved in road planning and funding.

What's more helpful than a useless bridge?  An attention span.  Last year, Sen. Ted Stevens (R-Alaska) slipped almost $500 million into a transportation bill to pay for a pair of bridges.  Even worse, this money was an earmark — instead of allowing the state of Alaska to spend money on projects it deemed worthy, the federal government would insist it build two bridges, one of which would connect the mainland to an island where only about 50 people lived.

Dr. Coburn, I Presume.  It is often said that Congress is disconnected from reality.  No kidding.  It funded a "bridge to nowhere" in Alaska to the tune of $225 million until Sen. Tom Coburn of Oklahoma led a crusade to transfer the money to Katrina victims.  His effort failed, but not before Alaska's Sen. Ted Stevens, a 37-year veteran, vowed to resign if his state was shortchanged.  Still, Sen. Coburn's effort generated enough publicity that the bridge was quietly defunded last month, even though the money will go to other projects in Alaska.

Fort Worth Plans to Build Three Unnecessary Bridges.  The city of Fort Worth unveiled plans for three bridges for its Trinity Uptown project, an ambitious plan that requires changing the course of the Trinity River. ... The cost for the three bridges is nearly $67 million, and most of that will be federal money. ... Fort Worth estimates Trinity Uptown will create 16,000 jobs and add more than a billion dollars to the tax rolls.

The Editor says...
The KDFW reporter kept a straight face on the air while telling this story, even though it is full of rather obvious misinformation.  Three bridges over the Trinity River will not create 16,000 jobs.  That's about the number of jobs at the largest employer in town, the Lockheed factory.  And just because most of the money will come from the federal government, that doesn't mean it won't cost us anything.

Other examples of waste, fraud and abuse:

The Defrauders Next Door:  The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.  Fraud is so inherent to the operation of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development that "HUD Scandal" might as well be one word.  Thanks to bipartisan support, HUD is here to stay.

Missing IRS Returns at Pittsburgh Facility Growing to 40,000 or More:  At least 40,000 federal tax returns and payments involving $810 million were either lost or destroyed at a Pittsburgh processing facility.  Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus, D-Mont., said Wednesday a previous estimate of 1,800 lost or destroyed payments was "only a small fraction" of the actual total now acknowledged by the Internal Revenue Service.

The $600 Million Blacks Only Lottery:  The U.S. Department of Agriculture has paid $600 million to black farmers, admitting it discriminated.  Of course, this has had very little coverage in the news media.  As with so many other scandals in the Clinton administration, they have chosen not to report it.

"You Have a Right to..."  The Social Security Administration, in the past four years alone, has paid fugitives at least $76 million in Supplemental Security Income benefits that were designed for poor Americans with disabilities.

The Case against OSHA:  While safe workplaces and healthy workers are important, the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has not contributed to the furtherance of either.  Businesses have spent over $100 billion attempting to meet OSHA mandates since the agency was created in 1970, but the number of serious accidents (those involving losing one or more day's work), has stayed at 4 per 100 workers during the past quarter century.  In other words, OSHA has been of little benefit to workers' safety.

Put a stake through its heart; don't fund the federal education system.  Education Secretary, Rod Paige, said bluntly, "We can no longer use the social experiences or conditions of children as the excuse for the low performances of children.  After spending $125 billion of Title I money over 25 years, we have little to show for it."  There are now seven different versions of H.R. 1, a bill that would spend $5 billion more on the same failed system!  This is a noxious piece of legislation that should be scrapped along with the entire US Department of Education.  The reason for this is that the Department is the reason for the failure of our schools.

Congress on a Spending Spree:  Lawmakers are ignoring President Bush's call to cut spending for home-state projects, stuffing the year's first spending bills with $500,000 for swine manure research in Iowa, $5 million for a Massachusetts parking garage, and millions of dollars for hundreds of other items.

AFDC and Food Stamp Fraud in Orange County, California:  With 45 percent of the AFDC households engaging in fraud, fraudulent AFDC and food stamp payments amounted to 9.3 percent of the total cost of AFDC and food stamps to households on AFDC.  Among the 30 percent of cases with overpayments due to fraud, the average extra cost per household was $216 per month.

Over a quarter-million federal workers fail to pay taxes:  IRS records show that 340,000 federal government employees or retirees getting government pensions last year owed a total of $2.5 billion in unpaid taxes.  That number includes 2,975 federal workers who were employed by the IRS itself!

Cooking the Books at EducationThe sad truth, which has escaped the attention of most of the major media, is that there is no real guarantee that any of this money will actually get to the students that may need it.  This is because the Department of Education has been so mismanaged that it can't account for the money it is spending.

US post office's $1.6 million sprouts wings:  When the United State Postal Service accidentally deposited more than $1.6 million into aviator Mike Edwards' bank account, the Virginia businessman promised he would sort the matter out.  But the windfall was never returned, and five months later authorities caught up with Edwards in New Zealand.

Medical 'Privacy' Rule Tab $18 Billion, Value $0 Bill Clinton's medical "privacy" regulation that President Bush adopted will cost $18 billion over 10 years.  Regulators couldn't assign it even one cent of measurable benefit.  Critics of the massive new bureaucratic program say it will place enormous financial and paperwork burdens on the health industry, add to patients' costs of medical care and provide less, rather than more, privacy protection.

The president's [that is, Clinton's] budget proposes a high-tech pork barrel President Clinton's recently released fiscal year (FY) 2001 budget contains a veritable high-tech pork barrel of new federal programs and spending initiatives.  Among them are plans to spend roughly $2 billion on a "national crusade" to solve an alleged "digital divide" separating the Internet haves and have-nots.

Egregious Earmark of the Week:  $750,000 for High-Speed Internet in Vermont.  Another pork project has been spotted in the Transportation-Treasury-HUD appropriations bill (H.R. 3058) for fiscal year 2006.  The bill allots $750,000 to the Vermont Broadband Council of Waterbury, Vermont for high speed broadband deployment.

Illinois Governor Under Fire for Homosexual "Pork"A number of legislative initiatives favoring homosexuality are making their way through the Illinois legislature, prompting accusations that Republican Governor George Ryan is backing some of the measures to win votes for other projects that he favors.

San Francisco Schools Can't Afford Huge GrantKiss $50 million goodbye:  San Francisco's m essed-up government schools were eager to snap up a huge grant, courtesy of U.S. taxpayers — but can't even pony up the required 17 cents per federal dollar.

School Lunches to Go GlobalU.S. effort to start a global school lunch program.  Guess who's going to pay for it.

NASA Still Intent on Probing Mars  ... Why?  (Editor's note:  This is a pet peeve of mine.  The Constitution obviously does not authorize the use of tax dollars to explore other planets, or put people into orbit, or build a space station with (or for) the Russians, unless it is done by the military to strengthen our national defense.  Private industry will undertake these projects if they are worth doing.  The same is true of the "Superconducting Supercollider" and other multi-billion-dollar science projects.  Yes, I know how many spin-off products resulted from the Space Program, but the federal government is not supposed to be engaged in any commercial business, including basic scientific research and product development.)

Space Station Billions Over BudgetReports of multibillion-dollar cost overruns on the International Space Station have experts predicting hard times for NASA's human space-flight program.

NASA Disposes of Space Lemon:
The experimental top-of-the-line spacecraft never left the drawing board, much less the launchpad — four years and $1.25 billion down the drain!

Postal Ploy:  "Give Us Your Money or Don't Get Your Mail!" The Postal Service is threatening to cut off Saturday delivery.  It's time for this government monopoly to go private, says Edward Hudgins.

Taxpayer Group Accuses U.S. Postal Service Of Political Extortion

Taxpayer Watchdog Blasts Congress' "Pork Odyssey"U.S. taxpayers treated 300 Alaskans to a $400,000 parking lot and walkway last year.  But the taxpayers were also generous to the Iowa Communication Network fiber optic demonstration project, generous to the tune of $4 million.

Pentagon Wastes Millions Towing Battleship to California The bottom line:  $3 million in Pork money spent by a Democrat Senator.

FEMA:  Clinton's free money program.

Information from CAGW

Citizens Against Government Waste is an excellent source of information about unnecessary spending of taxpayers' money for projects which primarily benefit the re-election prospects of the politicians involved.  In other words, it's tax money spent on political favors, and tax money used to buy votes.  (By that I mean not only the constituents' votes, but votes in Congress which are bought and sold with "pet projects".)  When I first began to research the subject of frivolous and extravagant "pork barrel" projects, one of the first and best sources of information I discovered was CAGW.  Here is some of the material I have found at their web site, and information I have found elsewhere on the internet which mentions CAGW.

CAGW Names Rep. John Murtha Porker of the Year.  Citizens Against Government Waste (CAGW) today announced the final results of its online poll for the 2007 Porker of the Year. … Rep. Jack Murtha has long been known inside the Beltway for using threats, power plays, and backroom deals to control spending decisions.  There is an area of the House floor known as "Murtha's Corner," where the legendary appropriator dispenses earmarks.  The overwhelming vote for Porker of the Year vote shows that his shameful behavior is attracting attention throughout the country.

Pork:  The bridge to re-election.  Citizens Against Government Waste … released its "2006 Pig Book" last week.  This book lists the amounts of pork that congressmen lavish on their districts in an effort to, essentially, buy votes so they can get re-elected and keep the cycle of waste going.  According to the "Pig Book," the government increased pork barrel spending by 6 percent over last year's wastefulness in a total of 9,963 pork projects.  Over $29 billion ($29,000,000,000) worth of worthlessness appeared in the 11 congressional appropriation bills in 2005.

CAGW Issues Report on United Nations.  Citizens Against Government Waste released a report today [3/14/2006] that finds the World Health Organization (WHO), a United Nations health agency, wasted tens of millions of U.S. tax dollars on ill-founded medical policies and initiatives.  The U.S. funds almost a quarter of the WHO's annual budget, more than any other nation.  The report urges an immediate investigation by the U.S. Congress.

2005 Congressional Pig Book Summary.  The federal government's expanding waistline (a record $427 billion deficit) has resulted from too many members of Congress believing that the United States Treasury is their own personal ATM.  Our elected officials have let themselves go whole hog while letting down every hard-working American taxpayer.  The 2005 Congressional Pig Book is the latest installment of Citizens Against Government Waste's (CAGW) 15-year exposé of pork-barrel spending.  This year's list includes $3,270,000 for the Capitol Visitor Center; $100,000 for the Tiger Woods Foundation; and $75,000 for Onondaga County for the Greater Syracuse Sports Hall of Fame.

Table:   Pork Per Capita by State.

Fannie Mae is Corporate Turkey of the Year.  Citizens Against Government Waste today [11/24/2004] named Fannie Mae its 2004 Corporate Turkey of the Year in recognition of how it has cooked the books in its growing accounting and corporate governance scandal.  Fannie Mae is a government-sponsored enterprise, mashed together by Congress and endowed with tens of billions of dollars worth of special privileges and exemptions.  Fannie Mae has been under scrutiny over the last several years because its securities enjoy the implied backing of the taxpayer, yet Fannie Mae (like its corporate cousin Freddie Mac) is exempt from many of the regulatory and accountability rules other major financial companies must comply with.

Congressional Pork Exposed:  War may be hell, but for Congress, war can also mean new opportunities to load the federal budget with pork.  The group Citizens Against Government Waste (CAGW) has come up with prime examples – $350,000 for sweet potato research in Stoneville, Miss., $631,000 for alternative salmon products in Alaska, $4,214,000 for shrimp aquaculture research spread across several states – that it says are part of a record amount of federal tax dollars being spent on congressional pork.

Pig Book 2003:  Total Pork Comparison for 2003 as analyzed by Citizens Against Government Waste.

CAGW Identifies a Record $22.5 Billion in Pork:  "Juicy morsels of pork went unnoticed and unquestioned."

Ten Guidelines for Reducing Wasteful Government Spending:  Lower tax rates will reduce barriers to working, saving, and investing, and therefore promote long-term economic growth.  Taxing Americans less also means that Washington must learn to spend less.

CCAGW Blasts Congress for Pay Raise:  "Members of Congress have the only job in the country whose occupants can set their own salary without regard to performance, profit, or economic climate," CCAGW President Tom Schatz said.  "After a year when Congress could not pass appropriations bills, left scores of judicial and executive branch appointments unconfirmed, and refused to act on overdue reforms for Social Security, Medicare, the tax code, Amtrak, and the US Postal Service, a pay raise is an insult to taxpayers."

Congress Goes Whole Hog:  Omnibus spending bill exits conference full of pork.

Some of the items discovered in the Omnibus spending bill are:
  • $1 million for the Iowa historical Society for exhibits related to the world food prize;
  • $750,000 for the Baseball Hall of Fame;
  • $732,000 for the Center for Designing Foods at Iowa State;
  • $725,000 for the Please Touch Museum in Philadelphia;
  • $500,000 for the Boat House Museum in St. Charles, Missouri;
  • $500,000 for Tongass Coast Aquarium in Alaska;
  • $350,000 for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame;
  • $210,000 for swine hoop barn research in Iowa;
  • $200,000 for the Maxine Waters Employment Preparation Center;
  • $150,000 for new office space for the "King of Pork," Sen. Robert Byrd;
  • $100,000 for the Sea Otter Commission in Alaska;
  • $90,000 for the Cowgirl Hall of Fame.
Additionally, CAGW's List of Omnibus Earmarks includes
  • $560,000 for the Montana Sheep Institute in Bozeman
  • $350,000 for sweet potato research in Miss.
  • $50,000 to study mushrooms in Booneville, Ark
  • $900,000 for the renovation of the El Paso Plaza Theater
  • $300,000 Iowa State University, Ames, Iowa, for Universal Kitchen Design project
  • $650,000 for Horseshoe Crab Research
Where do you think that money comes from?

National Security Versus Pork:  Should our tax dollars fund our troops fighting in Iraq, or the Smithsonian's national worm collection?  If it's business as usual up at the Capitol, then this is the type of question Congress will grapple with in the coming weeks.  And if history is our guide, the outcome is too close to call.

A New Year's spending resolution:  What is needed is a counteroffensive that will resonate with everyone who pays the bills for inefficiency, waste, fraud and abuse in and by government.  Democrats in the new Congress will predictably battle to preserve outmoded and unneeded government programs because the more people depend on government, the more power the Democrats have.

Byrd Droppings:  Quotes from Senator Robert Byrd and a long list of projects named for Senator Byrd.

Post Office Under Fire as Rates Rise Yet Again:  "In the long run, this rate hike will not serve anyone's interest, least of all the post office," said Leslie K. Paige, vice president of Citizens Against Government Waste.  "This substantial increase comes a little more than a year after the last increase and is, without doubt, only a prelude to the next, inevitable, rate case, which could come as early as October of this year.  These rate increases are coming faster and are ever more draconian.  We've had three hikes in four years, and none of them have stemmed the flow of red ink."

Postal Debt Soars to $13 Billion, Stamp Prices Continue to Climb:  New poll shows the public wants a postal audit before stamp prices rise again.  CAGW Unveils "Commemorative Stamps" Asking, "Where's Our Money Going?"

Mars?  Bring the Deficit Down to Earth First.  "Cost estimates for the new programs range from $550 billion to $1 trillion," said CAGW President Tom Schatz.  "Until the federal government brings the record deficit back down to Earth, it should not launch expensive new space programs of questionable scientific value."

CAGW Names Senator Carl Levin Porker of the Month.  Citizens Against Government Waste (CAGW) today named Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman Carl Levin (D-Mich.) its September Porker of the Month for attempting to give earmarks contained in committee reports the force of law.  The provision is included in S. 3001, the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2009.  Currently, earmarks listed in committee reports do not have the force of law; only those included in the statutory language have that status.

The Porker of the Month Award award is a dubious honor given to lawmakers, government officials and political candidates who have shown a blatant disregard for the interests of taxpayers.

"2002 Congressional Pig Book" Points to $20 Billion in Government Pork:  Since the Pig Book was first released in 1991, CAGW has documented $140 billion in pork barrel spending, which the group defines as projects that serve only a local or special interest, are requested by one chamber of Congress, or greatly exceed either the president's budget request or the previous year's funding.

Government Watchdog Group Slams Senator Daschle As "Porker of the Month":  "The farm lobby, labor unions, teachers' unions and the environmentalists have all recently gotten big Christmas presents from the Daschle Democrats, while pressing national business has gone unaddressed," CAGW said in a statement.

Here piggy, piggy, piggy...  Geoff Metcalf interviews government-waste expert Tom Schatz (from CAGW) on the latest pork.  (This is an astonishing discussion of pork projects at the federal level.  You'll be amazed.)

WasteWire:  A collection of the bizarre, yet costly ways in which Washington is spending your money.

Hybrid Car Project Wasting Taxpayers' Money, Group Claims:  The federal government has spent more than $800 million since 1993 to develop a "super car" capable of traveling 80 miles on one gallon of gasoline.  Although funding for the hybrid car program has been matched by the Big Three U.S. automakers, critics say it's time for the government to scrap the program and stop wasting taxpayer money.

Excerpt from a recent CAGW article:  Alaska again led the nation with $766 per capita ($480 million), or 30 times the national average of $25.  The runners up were Hawaii with $391 per capita ($474 million) and Mississippi with $236 per capita ($672 million).  The common thread among the top three per-capita states is that they are represented by powerful senators and appropriators - Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Ted Stevens (R-Alaska), Senate appropriator Daniel Inouye (D-Hawaii), and Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott (R-Miss.).

Editor's note: West Virginia, number four on the list, is the home of Robert Byrd, the senator who once called himself "West Virginia's billion-dollar industry."  Here is a long list of Projects Named For Senator Byrd.

Robert Byrd's Highways to Nowhere.  Despite the $4 billion in pork that [Robert] Byrd served his constituents over the past 19 years alone — not to mention the untold billions before observers started keeping tabs — West Virginia remains the third poorest state in the country.

Taxpayer Group Blasts U.S. Postal Service.

Deficits Again?  Not if we Cut Federal Bloat.  It is business as usual again in Washington as budget deficits return.  Who's going to win the battle over what to do — fiscal conservatives or big spenders?

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Updated June 25, 2015.

©2015 by Andrew K. Dart