Those Earmark-and-Spend Conservatives

Monday, April 24, 2006

Those Earmark-and-Spend Conservatives

From Sunday's New York Times:

It was only last month that the Senate staged a breast-beating debate about the need to control the rampant pork-spending abuse of earmarks — boondoggle appropriations tucked into vital legislation with little public scrutiny.

Senator Trent Lott, Republican of Mississippi, orated on the side of the angels in calling for reform. Well, the angels have lost another player.

As the Senate returns from recess it will confront the year's prize porker blithely trotted out by Senator Lott — a $700 million earmark to relocate a Gulf Coast rail line, which was just rebuilt, post-Katrina, at a cost of $250 million.

Invoked in the name of public safety, the project is actually a transparent attempt to tap already scarce hurricane reconstruction funds so the rail bed can be replaced by a touristy "beach boulevard" long sought by Mississippi to aid the casino industry and coastal developers.

The railroad relocation dwarfs the $223 million "bridge to nowhere" proposed for the Alaska outback, the giveaway that brought all the vows for reform from Congress.

Even worse, Senator Lott and his fellow Mississippi Republican, Thad Cochran, are attaching this frivolous add-on to a bill that is supposed to be used to pay for emergencies — specifically the war in Iraq and hurricane reconstruction.

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