The Washington Times - July 20, 2009, 12:37PM

Is pork for the poor the sort of fatty government spending everyone is supposed to hate? The Obama Administration hopes not.

Government contracts for canned meats and hams paid with millions worth of stimulus money made available on recovery.gov sure looked porky to Matt Drudge. He highlighted a handful of them on his highly-trafficked Drudge Report as means of criticizing the spending.

Some of those items included a contract for more than $16 million to purchase canned pork from the Wisconsin-based Lakeside Foods, Inc and others worth more than $3 million that went to the California-based Clougherty Packing for hams.

But the Obama Administration said their critics were too quick to judge the merits of the spending by just skimming the contract.  The Department of Agriculture issued a statement explaining those meats were purchased to feed the hungry via food banks, food pantries and soup kitchens.

The $787 billion stimulus bill was passed earlier this year for the purpose of jumpstarting the economy and job creation. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack maintains the pork purchases are in line with that goal

He said in a statement “While the principal purpose of these expenditures is to provide food to those hardest hit by these tough times, the purchases also provide a modest economic benefit of benefiting Americans working at food retailers, manufacturers and transportation companies as well as the farmers and ranchers who produce our food supply.”

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John Hart, a spokesman for the fiscally conservative Sen. Tom Coburn, an Oklahoma Republican, isn’t buying it. “Few things would benefit low-income families more than having Washington join in the real world of fixed budgets and tough choices,” he said. He menionedt there were millions in other wasteful projects included in the stimulus like the $2 bililon for the “FutureGen” power plant for Matoon, Illinois.

“Congressional leaders have no interest in sharing their pork with those less fortunate,” Mr. Hart said. “These examples show yet again that stimulus funds are not being used for job creation but are subsidizing Congress’ refusal to make tough choices and prioritize spending.”