- The Washington Times - Sunday, February 10, 2008

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

In an effort to stave off electoral catastrophe this year, House Republican leaders are targeting Democrats who are vulnerable to charges that they broke 2006 campaign promises to fight pork-barrel spending. The anti-pork campaign would have more credibility if House GOP leader John Boehner wasn’t rallying behind embattled incumbent Rep. Wayne Gilchrest — one of the top pork-barrelers in Congress — as he attempts to fight off a primary challenge from conservative state Sen. Andy Harris, who has made ending earmark abuse a major issue in his campaign to unseat Mr. Gilchrest in Tuesday’s election. The Club for Growth, an organization which focuses on combating wasteful federal spending, rated all 435 members of the House on 50 amendments to strip questionable pork projects from fiscal 2008 appropriations bills.

Mr. Gilchrest was one of 105 members of Congress — 81 Democrats and just 24 Republicans — who received 0 ratings for voting consistently against amendments to cut wasteful spending from appropriations bills, earning them a place in the Club for Growth’s “Pork Hall of Shame.” (By way of comparison, the average Democratic score was 2 percent. The average Republican score was 43 percent, while the GOP freshman class averaged 78 percent.) Following are a just a few of the pork items Mr. Gilchrest voted to force taxpayers to pay for, according to the Club for Growth:

*$34 million for something called the Alaska Native Education Equity program, requested by Rep. Don Young, Alaska Republican. When Rep. Scott Garrett, New Jersey Republican, questioned the earmark, Mr. Young replied: “You want my money, my money.” We think the money belongs to the taxpayers, not to congressional barons like Mr. Young. But the House, including Mr. Gilchrest, disagreed, rejecting the Garrett Amendment to take out the $34 million on a 352-74 vote.

*$2 million to establish the “Rangel Center for Public Service” at City College of New York, requested by House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Charles Rangel, New York Democrat. The amendment was defeated 316-108 with Mr. Gilchrest voting with the majority to keep Mr. Rangel’s pork project.

* $50,000 for the National Mule and Packers Museum in Woodlake, Calif., requested by Rep. Buck McKeon, California Republican. An amendment to bar funding for the museum was defeated on a 352-69 vote. Mr. Gilchrest voted with the majority to retain funding for the National Mule and Packers Museum.

* $300,000 for the Houston Zoo in Texas. An amendment to strike the funding was defeated on a 347-77 vote, with Mr. Gilchrest voting to retain the pork in the bill.

The Club for Growth’s Web site (www.clubforgrowth.org) contains more than 40 more instances in which Mr. Gilchrest voted to keep pork-barrel spending in fiscal 2008 appropriations bills. If House Republican leaders want to be taken seriously as opponents of such spending, they need to be more careful about endorsing politicians like Wayne Gilchrest for re-election — particularly in contested Republican primaries.


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