What was that Democrats were saying about changing the culture of corruption in Washington? What was that about draining the swamp?
Not only have Democrats failed to live up to their promise of ending "business-as-usual" in Washington, but 20 freshmen Democrats elected as part of the Democratic tide in 2006 have spent most of 2007 wallowing in the same muck as the Republicans they defeated.
USA Today is reporting that 20 freshman Democrats in the House and Senate have secured $70 million in pork barrel projects for their districts.
The worst offenders? Four Democrats elected in Pennsylvania House districts. Topping the list of Senate porkers is freshman Sen. Bob Casey Jr.
Nothing changes in Washington except who sticks his hand in your pocket. Last year, it was Republicans. This year it's the Democrats.
Below is the list of Special-Interest Spending published by USA Today, showing the 20 freshman members of Congress who had the most special-interest spending, or "earmarks," in the House and Senate spending bills, according to the newspaper. This includes only spending items with a single sponsor, not multiple sponsors, the newspaper notes.)
Member, Party, State, (District) Total Earmarks
Rep. Christopher Carney, D-Pa. (10th) $18,185,000
Sen. Robert Casey, D-Pa. $16,649,579
Rep. Jason Altmire, D-Pa. (4th) $12,475,000
Rep. Patrick Murphy, D-Pa. (8th) $11,822,500
Rep. Joe Sestak, D-Pa. (7th) $11,175,000
Sen. Jim Webb, D-Va. $11,000,000
Rep. Bruce Braley, D-Iowa (1st) $10,586,540
Rep. Steve Kagen, D-Wis. (8th) $10,485,000
Rep. John Yarmuth, D-Ky. (3rd) $10,456,000
Rep. Nick Lampson, D-Texas (22nd) $10,423,537
Rep. Brad Ellsworth, D-Ind. (8th) $10,356,000
Rep. Heath Shuler, D-N.C. (11th) $10,333,000
Rep. Chris Murphy, D-Conn. (5th) $10,325,000
Rep. Baron Hill, D-Ind. (9th) $9,760,000
Rep. Joe Donnelly, D-Ind. (2nd) $9,640,000
Rep. Jerry McNerney, D-Calif. (11th) $9,275,000
Rep. Paul Hodes, D-N.H. (2nd) $8,806,000
Rep. Peter Welch, D-Vt. (at-large) $8,781,000
Rep. Charlie Wilson, D-Ohio (6th) $8,726,000
Rep. Michael Arcuri, D-N.Y. (24th) $8,425,000
Source: USA TODAY analysis based on data from Taxpayers for Common Sense
The revelation that Democrats were now the kings of Congressional pork was noted by Pennsylvania Republican Party Chairman Robert A. Gleason Jr.
"Pennsylvania Democrats sure have some answering to do," Gleason said in a written statement. "After criticizing former members of Congress for securing funding for pet projects, every freshmen member of Pennsylvania’s Democrat Congressional Delegation was listed at the top of the list when it comes to securing earmarks for their pet projects. While on the campaign trail in Pennsylvania last year, Sen. Bobby Casey Jr. and Congressmen Chris Carney, Jason Altmire, Patrick Murphy, and Joe Sestak each promised to put a stop to pork-barrel spending; however, all have proven that they care far more about Washington politics than their promises.
"What this report does not reflect is that each one of these Democrats had to give up a vote for something else to get their smaller piece of the pot to fund projects in their districts. The simple truth is that each one of these Democrats had to first agree to send hundreds of billions of taxpayer dollars, including money from Pennsylvania, all over this country in order to receive any funding for their pet project. Is this the change that Democrats promised last year?
"Every one of these Democrats has flip-flopped on their campaign promise to ensure the proper spending of our hard-earned tax dollars. Pennsylvanians' distrust with these elected officials is sure to grow, and I can only imagine that it will be difficult for them to trust anything they say as they campaign next year. They all seem to be from the Clinton school of politics – stand for nothing, say whatever is popular at the time, and sell out early and often
Keep in mind these are only freshmen members of Congress. The King of Congressional Pork continues to be Rep. John Murtha, also of Pennsylvania. Read more about Murtha's antics at the Boot Murtha Web site.
For more background on Congressional pork spending, I recommend http://www.porkbusters.org/