Pork Barrel Projects Rampant in Congress's Spending for 2009 Fiscal Year

This is something every American taxpayer should read.

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By Peter Roff, Thomas Jefferson Street blog

Every year, Citizens Against Government Waste, which, as its name implies, is an organization that works to fight waste in government, releases a pamphlet documenting what it believes are wasteful expenditures by the federal government.

The book, which this year runs to 60 pages, helps fuel the outrage now directed at congressional earmarks and other forms of suspicious spending. And it's something that every American taxpayer should read.

"In fiscal year 2009, Congress stuffed 10,160 projects into the 12 appropriations bills worth $19.6 billion," the group says in its introduction to The Pig Book. And, while "the projects represent a 12.5 percent decrease from the 11,610 projects in fiscal year 2008," CAGW says, "The $19.6 billion is a 14 percent increase over the fiscal year 2008 total of $17.2 billion, belying claims of reduced spending."

Since 1991, the first year The Pig Book was produced, the group says it has identified items of federal pork that have cost U.S. taxpayers $290 billion.

And, lest anyone accuse CAGW of playing fast and loose with the facts, the group has seven possible criteria for defining pork: an expenditure requested by only one chamber of Congress; an expenditure not specifically authorized; an expenditure not awarded competitively; an expenditure not requested by the president; an expenditure that greatly exceeds the president's budget request or the previous year's funding; an expenditure that was not the subject of congressional hearings; or an expenditure that serves only a local or special interest.

Each entry in The Pig Book must meet at least one of the criteria and, the group says, "Most satisfy at least two."

According to CAGW, Alaska is the nation's most pork-laden state, receiving a total of $221,222,875 in federal largess for a population of only 686,293 people. This works out to $322.34 in pork per person, probably more than the average American spends in a year on actual pork at the supermarket.

Coming in at second place is Hawaii, with $234.96 in pork per person, followed by North Dakota, the District of Columbia and, rounding out the top five, West Virginia.

The group also identifies specific pork projects, along with their congressional sponsors. Some of them are just examples of traditional congressional excess. These include: $500,000 by Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison, (R-Texas) for a Manned Space Flight Education Foundation in Houston to create "a virtual space community for students"; $200,000 by Rep. Howard Berman (D-Calif.) for the Providence Holy Cross Foundation tattoo removal violence prevention program in Mission Hills, Calif.; and $98,257 by Rep. James Moran (D-Va.) a member of the House Appropriations Committee, for funds from the Small Business Administration for the Georgetown Metro Connection, a bus service that runs from Georgetown in Washington, D.C. "to the neighborhood of Dupont Circle in D.C. and to Rosslyn, Va.," which, the group points out, happens to be in Moran's district.

And, just for fun, The Pig Book concludes with a series of awards, including "The Mighty Windbag Award," giving it to Rep. Charles Rangel (D-N.Y.) "for $47,575 for the Harlem United wind power project," "The Dim Bulb Award" to Sens. Carl Levin and Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.) and Rep. Carolyn Kilpatrick (D-Mich.) "for $951,500 for downtown Detroit energy efficient street lamps," and "The Water Taxi to Nowhere Award" to former GOP Rep. Chris Shays (R-Conn.), who managed to score $1.9 million for a Pleasure Beach water taxi service project before being voted out of Congress.

For everyone who wonders why taxpayers are angry today, a quick read of The Pig Book will give you and idea.

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