Michael: Bush's Big Box o' Pork
Bush presented the nation the transportation bill he spinelessly passed out of the great pork sausage machine known as Congress. In all, the legislation includes funding for some 6,000 pet projects for lawmakers in their home districts, known euphemistically as earmarks. The formula for the bill's passage is easy to derive: a minimum of $14 million dollars in earmarks per member of Congress, $40-60 million per transportation committee member, and $90 million or more apeice for the GOP leadership.
The 286.4 billion dollar bill is emblematic of Congress at its worst excess, and the Presidency at its most craven. In return for that vast expenditure Americans get one of the worst, most aged, and least efficient transportation networks of any modern nation.
If there is going to be pork, at least it should be spread around with something approaching fairness. Instead, Alaska netted a whopping $720 million, some $1150 for every man, woman and child in the state (including a $150 million dollar bridge serving an island with 50 inhabitants), while our own state of Arizona (pdf) only got $142 million, some $27 per capita. Chump change. You gotta wonder why such a GOP heavy delegation couldn't pull down more chedda' for their homies. Where's the love?
Equal 'merit' ought to bring equal funding. For instance, Congress saw fit to approve an earmark for the National Packard Museum in Warren, Ohio to the tune of a cool $3 million. Did they also fund the eminently worthy Franklin Museum in Tucson, Arizona a like amount? No. We got bupkiss.
All joshing aside, this bill and the atrocious energy bill are just more of the same cozy backscratching and corruption that soured the nation on Democratic control of Congress. With such monuments to greed as Bush's Big Box o' Pork Transportation Omnibus and the Paen to Petroleum Energy Subsidy Act, it won't be long before voters figure out that the GOP is just more of the same, and lot more of it besides.
Bush certainly sounds like a Keynesian pump-priming New Dealer Democrat when he talks about the transportation bill. "Highways just don't happen," Bush said. "People have got to show up and do the work to refit a highway or build a bridge, and they need new equipment to do so. So the bill I'm signing is going to help give hundreds of thousands of Americans good-paying jobs." Not that he's wrong, mind you, but given his well-known views on the role of government in the economy, he's certainly a hypocrite to justify Congress' out-of-control spending spree in this way.