Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Congressional porkers set new record for wasteful spending

Citizens Against Government Waste, a non-partisan watchdog group, has released its 2009 Congressional Pig Book, detailing nearly $20 billion in pork-barrel spending.

The Pig Book, now in its 19th year, details more than 10,000 earmarks totaling $19.6 billion. Something to think about as you rush to file your income taxes.

All that talk of change in Washington is more baloney, according to Citizens Against Government Waste (CAGW).

"Everyone in Washington has promised a new era of transparency and restraint in earmarks, from President Obama to the leaders of both parties in Congress," CAGW President Tom Schatz said in a release accompany the 2009 Pig Book. "Sadly, the hard numbers from the 2009 appropriations bills tell a different story. The current Democratic congressional majority is following the same trajectory as their Republican predecessors. They came into power promising to cut earmarks, and made a big show of it during their first two years. However, as the 2009 Pig Book amply illustrates, pork-barrel spending is growing fast."

While the number of specific projects declined by 12.5 percent, from 11,610 in fiscal year 2008 to 10,160 in fiscal year 2009, Schatz said the total tax dollars spent to fund them increased by 14 percent, from $17.2 billion to $19.6 billion.

More from Citizens Against Government Waste:
Much has been made of reforms that require members of Congress to identify earmarks they request and the intended recipients of earmarked funds, but CAGW uncovered 221 earmarks worth $7.8 billion that were funded in circumvention of Congress's own transparency rules. These stealth earmarks were particularly prevalent in the 2009 Defense Appropriations Act, which included 142 anonymous earmarks worth $6.4 billion, a staggering 57 percent of the earmarked tax dollars.

Examples of pork in the 2009 Pig Book include:

* $3.8 million for the Old Tiger Stadium Conservancy in Detroit;
* $1.9 million for the Pleasure Beach water taxi service in Connecticut;
* $1.8 million for swine odor and manure management research in Ames, Iowa;
* $380,000 for a recreation and fairgrounds area in Kotzebue, Alaska;
* $143,000 for the Greater New Haven Labor History Association in Connecticut;
* $95,000 for the Canton Symphony Orchestra Association in Ohio; and
* $71,000 for Dance Theater Etcetera in Brooklyn for its Tolerance through Arts initiative.

The Pig Book Summary profiles the most egregious examples, breaks down pork per capita by state, and presents the annual "Oinker" Awards.
All 10,160 projects are listed in a searchable database on CAGW's Web site,, where you can also download a copy of the 58-page Pig Book.

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