Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Porkbusters Takes Off

The Wall Street Journal has an excellent article about cutting the pork in our national budget. Senators and Representatives from both sides of the aisle are up in arms over the idea, which essentially is designed to cut out wasteful spending by the government.

What is most interesting about this story is how it has grown, almost exclusively through the ideas and efforts of bloggers, most notably N.Z. Bear and Instapundit, two of the largest and most well known blogs. N.Z. Bear, who already tracks just about everything in the blogging world, set up a new portion to his site called "Porkbusters," in which people can list pork they see in the budget of their state or area.

People have found billions of dollars in pork already, and have started to put pressure on their Congressmen. To date, PorkBusters has listed over $30.5 BILLION dollars in pork. It also has a nice list of each Congressman and what cuts they've committed to. So far, that list is empty.

But, as Glenn Reynolds (Instapundit) points out, this article in the Journal is helping PorkBusters gain momentum. The article leads with
The idea of a pork-for-reconstruction swap had already been denounced as "moronic" by a spokesman for Don Young of Alaska, Chairman of the House Transportation Committee and proud father of the now-infamous $223 million "bridge to nowhere" near Ketchikan.

Then it talks about PorkBusters et al:
But thankfully, a grassroots Internet campaign and a handful of House GOP conservatives have refused to give up on the idea that spending cuts should be found to defray the estimated $200 billion federal price tag for hurricane relief. In the Senate, John McCain is proposing a similar pork-for-Katrina swap.
The Internet campaign picks up on the idea of revisiting the earmarks in the Highway Bill. A Web site called Porkbusters ( helpfully lists these projects by state and directs readers to the appropriate Representatives and Senators to ask what they would cut. Around the country a flood of letters to local newspapers has echoed the theme.

Some egrerious examples, from here in New York:
The purpose is to move the Long Island RailRoad Terminal to the Farley Post office building. The current station has been recently upgraded and Air Conditioned. The goal is to make the new train stations to be called the Moynihan Station and the hope is that the station becomes a tourist destination. With all of the attractions in New York City this is gilding the lilly and totally unnecessary.
Senators: (D) Charles Schumer; (D) Hillary Clinton. Representatives: (D) Jerrold Nadler. Cost: $900,000,000.

Another excellent one is this mind-boggling list:
Representative: (D) Nydia Velazquez
Senators: (D) Hillary Clinton; (D) Charles Schumer

Total Cost: $ 2,147,483,647

(numbers in millions) [list of some examples]

Farm subsidies: cut in half -- $10.6
Wasteful and have negative environmental and trade effects NASA: cut in half -- $7.9
NASA is obsolete with the arrival of private manned space flight Energy research and subsidies -- $6.2
Private sector responsibility Subsidies to airports -- $5.8 (Airports should be privatized as in dozens of major foreign cities)
Community development grants -- $5.4 (Projects such as parking lots and sidewalks are a local responsibility)
USAID (foreign aid) -- $4.7 (Duplicates Bush Millennium Challenge Corporation foreign aid agency)
Army Corps of Engineers -- $4.6 (Civilian activities should be privatized or devolved to the states)
Homeland security grants -- $4.2 (Homeland security grants to states have been mired in scandal)
Foreign economic aid -- $2.7 (Foreign economic aid does not work)
Rural subsidies -- $2.5 (Wasteful and unfair to urban taxpayers)
Bureau of Indian Affairs -- $2.4 (BIA is scandal-plagued: Tribes earn $19 billion annually from gambling)
Davis-Bacon Act: repeal -- $2.0 (Repeal Davis-Bacon and the Service Contract Act to cut federal costs)
Air traffic control -- $1.6 ("Privatize air traffic control as in Canada and Britain") Trade adjustment assistance -- $1.0 (Unneeded giveaway that is in addition to unemployment insurance)
Amtrak -- $0.4 (Privatize the rail system)
Total $62
Source: Chris Edwards and Stephen Slivinski, Cato Institute, based on Budget of the U.S. Government, FY2006

It's kind of sickening. I hope this keeps up, much like it did by RatherGate. This could be the most important check of government yet by bloggers, and would firmly establish the ability of the people to keep both media and government from getting away with excesses, discretionary tactics, and lies. Now that some smarter Congressmen have looked at the list, hopefully they will take up the cause as well, for the sake of not only their own political agenda, but for the people of this country.

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