- The Washington Times - Monday, December 27, 1999

Congress has a well-deserved reputation for wasting tax dollars on self-serving projects, but spending $400,000 for a memorial to the author of the children's book "Green Eggs and Ham" sounds like a parody of pork-barrel spending at its worst.
Yet that is exactly what happened when Congress passed a Housing and Urban Development budget for 2000 that includes a provision to build a memorial to Dr. Seuss in Springfield, Mass. The provision was rejected last year. But it magically reappeared in this year's HUD bill, thanks to a back-room deal cut by two Massachusetts Democrats: Sen. Edward Kennedy and Rep. Richard Neal.
The two lawmakers plan to squeeze another $600,000 out of us this year to complete a big bronze statue for which they expect their constituents to be suitably grateful when re-election time rolls around.
In all, 520 provisions were packed into the HUD bill. Mr. Kennedy made sure that his state got its share of the pork that is stuffed each year into the government's big spending bills.
Among the special-interest goodies for Bay State residents $500,000 for a Boys and Girls Club in Chelsea; $197 million for helicopter engines made in Lynn; and $500,000 to help Assumption College in Worcester build a science center named after Mr. Kennedy's oldest brother, Joseph P. Kennedy Jr., who was killed in World War II.
In all, Mr. Kennedy and other Bay State Democrats earmarked $760 million in additional spending in this year's 13 appropriations bills, much of it for private organizations in their state.
But this is only a tiny share of the thousands of earmarked pork-barrel projects that were stuffed like sausages into one spending bill after another by year's end.
Among some of the worst pork-barrel expenditures in this year's budget:
a) $100,000 to develop "pungency testing procedures" on Vidalia onions in Georgia.
b) A $2 million Department of Commerce grant to PPL Therapeutics, Inc., a company in Scotland, to develop technology to clone pigs.
c) $100,000 for Philadelphia's jazz-in-the-schools program.
d) $650,000 to research alternative salmon products in Alaska.
e) $500,000 for research at North Carolina State University on, appropriately enough, swine-waste management.
f) $1.2 million for a viticulture (wine industry) consortium in New York and California.
g) $246,000 for an "income enhancement demonstration project" to study the feasibility of farmers markets at Ohio Turnpike plazas.
h) $200,000 for a rural studies center in Vermont to develop retail shopping areas.
The list of pork-barrel projects seems endless: $1.75 million to develop better manure-handling methods; $200,000 for sunflower research; $300,000 to study the feasibility of building the Wheels Museum in New Mexico; $4 million for a parking facility in Hot Springs, Ark.
It has been estimated that this year's spending bills contain $13 billion in pure pork, but committee aides tell me that the true total may be much higher than that.
Republicans won majority control of Congress in 1994 for the first time in 40 years pledging to "radically transform the way government works."
And in the beginning, Republican appropriators eliminated 300 programs and other expenditures. Most of the cuts were relatively small, but they saved taxpayers $3 billion a year.
Unfortunately, as time when on, some of these same conservative budget-cutters went back to their old ways and attempted to bring some of the programs they had cut back to life.
The infamous wool and mohair subsidies that were killed in 1996 have been partly revived by Sen. Larry Craig of Idaho, a staunch conservative who put no-interest loans for mohair ranchers into a bill, plus a new National Sheep Industry Improvement Center.
The amount of parochial earmarking for special interests has reached such micromanaging levels that funds are going directly to local agencies, bypassing federal and state review. One of the most brazen perpetrators of this practice is Rep. Sonny Callahan, Alabama Republican, a veteran appropriator, who saw to it that 20 school boards in his state will each get $50,000 checks this year.
How many times have we heard about money appropriated for defense projects that the Pentagon does not want and cannot use?
The worst abuser of this practice in the past year was Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott of Mississippi, who put $375 million into the defense spending bill for an LHD-8 helicopter carrier to be built in Pascagoula, Miss. The Navy does not want the carrier. Rep. Bill Young of Florida, the Appropriations Committee chairman, disapproved of the expenditure but was unable to block it.
There may be a rationale for a few of these projects, but most of them are indefensible or at best questionable expenditures that rob money from far more important national priorities such as saving Medicare, reforming Social Security and reducing taxes. The question is, when will it stop and who will stop it?

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