NEW YORK (CBS 2) — Public worry about out-of-control government spending hasn’t stopped Congress from trying to get $8 billion worth of new pork barrel projects.
Are they pigs at the trough or politicians just hoping to bring home the bacon?
That depends on how you feel about the government spending $4 million to kill marijuana plants in Kentucky, $80 million to preserve Pacific salmon or $247,000 on virus-free wine grapes.
“That’s why the American people have lost faith in the system. That’s why people have lost faith in the economy,” Long Island Congressman Peter King told CBS 2’s Marcia Kramer.
King, a Republican, is in a very small minority in Congress. For the past two years he has requested zero dollars … nada … nothing … for what Congress calls earmarks and the public calls pork. But the new government operations bill includes $8 billion worth of pork spending, including:
* $2.8 billion for competitive potato breeding, sought by Queens Rep. Gary Akerman
* $525,000 to research summer flounder and black sea bass, sought buy Rep. Tim Bishop of Long Island
* $1 million for curbing Long Island Rail Road noise in Queens from Rep. Anthony Weiner
* $500,000 for planters and “street scaping” outside the Museum of Africa Art from Rep. Charlie Rangel
“Those things make voters skeptical about whether or not Congress is making decisions in the best interest of taxpayers,” said Ryan Alexander of Taxpayers for Common Sense.
There’s also $349,000 earmarked for swine waste management, $208,000 for beaver management, $572,000 for blackberry and cranberry breeding, $500,000 for oyster safety, $165,000 for maple research, $2.9 million for shrimp research, and $277,000 for potato pests.
Congressman King said the dough could be better spent.
“If we are going to spend the money it should be spent to provide job training, to help senior citizens, to provide unemployment insurance also to our veterans, to our military, to poor people who are going to be suffering over this Christmas holiday season,” King said.
The incoming Republican leadership in the House has taken a “no earmarks” pledge; to which many say seeing is believing.
The group Taxpayers Against Earmarks claims Democrats in this Congress have sought a total of $106 billion in pork projects. Republicans have sought $23 billion.