No change in wasteful government spending

Mike Brantley

No change in wasteful government spending
If you had Hope for Change in 2009, then you were disappointed in the actions of Congress. Again.

Last week, we ran Part 1 of our annual Pork Barrel report of how the government spent our tax money in silly ways — part of the Pig Book published each year by the Citizens Against Government Waste.

This watchdog group reports on wasteful government spending, as known as ‘earmarks’ or ‘pork barrel spending.’

This report always takes two weeks to layout, and after heavy editing it is by no means comprehensive.

As in previous years, all of the items in the report meet at least one of CAGW’s seven criteria, but most satisfy at least two:

* Requested by only one chamber of Congress;
* Not specifically authorized;
* Not competitively awarded;
* Not requested by the President;
*Greatly exceeds the President’s budget request or the previous year’s funding;
* Not the subject of congressional hearings; or
* Serves only a local or special interest.

So here we go with your second helping:

•$465,000,000 for the continued development of the F-136 engine as an alternative engine in the Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) program.  The JSF is $55 billion over its budgeted cost, according to the Government Accountability Office (GAO).  Congress has added funding for an additional engine in order to supposedly increase competition and flexibility for pilots.  However, according to a February 24, 2009 United Press International article, the money was allotted, “despite the fact that the winning engine had already prevailed in half a dozen public and private competitions and despite the fact that no other part of the plane would be competed once production commenced.”  CBS News reported on July 30, 2007 that the Air Force and two independent panels concluded that the second engine is “not necessary and not affordable” and that the professed savings from competition “will never be achieved.” 

•$190,000,000 for 33 projects by Senate Defense Appropriations Subcommittee Chairman Daniel Inouye (D-Hawaii), including:  $23,000,000 for the Hawaii Federal Healthcare Network, $9,900,000 for the U.S.S. Missouri (which costs $16 for an adult to tour and receives 100,000 annual visitors), and $3,600,000 for intelligent decision exploration. 

•$101,660,000 for 43 projects by Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.), including:  $4,000,000 for the Center for Autonomous Solar Power, $1,600,000 for an advanced steam turbine, and $1,600,000 for the Future Fuel Non-Tactical Vehicle Initiative.

•$101,840,000 for 48 projects by Senate Defense Appropriations Subcommittee member Arlen Specter (D-Pa.), including:  $3,000,000 for the Northeast Counterdrug Training Center, $1,600,000 for conversion of municipal solid waste to renewable diesel fuel, and $800,000 for the Delaware Valley Continuing Education Initiative for the National Guard and Reserve.

•$4,757,500 for climate change modeling capability in New Mexico, requested by Pete Domenici (R-N.M.).

•$70,705,675 for 53 projects by Senate Energy and Water Appropriations Subcommittee member Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), including:  $8,000,000 for the Bay Area regional water recycling program; $2,871,000 for San Ramon Valley recycled water; $2,677,000 for Army Corps of Engineers investigations on the South San Francisco shoreline; and $885,000 for deepening the main channel and the Port of Los Angeles.

•$44,139,929 for 23 projects by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) including:  $1,189,375 for the Andre Agassi Charitable Foundation’s Alternative Energy School of the Future in Clark County; and $386,000 for a carbon-neutral green campus.

•$10,000,000 for the Denali Commission.  Even though the Denali Commission was established by then-Senator Ted Stevens (R-Alaska) in 1999, funding still continues.

•$6,422,625 for six projects for clients of a lobbying firm under federal investigation for making campaign donations in exchange for political favors for the firm’s clients, including:  $1,189,375 for Solar Energy Windows and Smart IR Switchable Building Technologies in Pennsylvania, by Senate appropriator Arlen Specter (R-Pa.), and Reps. Jason Altmire (D-Pa.) and Michael Doyle (D-Pa.); $951,500 for DIRECT Methanol Fuel Cell in Indiana, by House Energy and Water Appropriations Subcommittee Chairman Peter Visclosky (D-Ind.); and $951,500 for Adaptive Liquid Crystal Windows in Ohio, by House Energy and Water Appropriations Subcommittee member Tim Ryan (D-Ohio).  Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) offered an amendment to strip these earmarks from the Omnibus Appropriations Act, but the effort failed by a vote of 43 to 52. 

•$951,500 by Sens. Carl Levin (D-Mich.) and Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.), and House appropriator Carolyn Kilpatrick (D-Mich.) for downtown Detroit energy efficient street lighting. 

•$41,500,000 for three projects funding presidential libraries:  $22,000,000 by Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.), and Reps. Stephen Lynch (D-Mass.) and Edward Markey (D-Mass.) for the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library in Boston, Massachusetts; $17,500,000 by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.), and Sens. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) and Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) for the Franklin D. Roosevelt Presidential Library in Hyde Park, New York; and $2,000,000 by Senate appropriator Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-Texas) for the Lyndon Baines Johnson Presidential Library in Austin, Texas.  All three of these libraries received funding last year, bringing their combined two-year earmark total to $54,010,000.  In addition, each library receives an annual operating subsidy from the National Archives and Records Administration; the JFK Library receives $3,883,000 annually, the LBJ Library receives $2,935,000 annually (and is the only presidential library that does not charge admission), and the FDR Library receives $1,640,000 annually.

•$190,000 for educational programs at the Bishop Museum in Honolulu.  A Bizjournal.com article noted that a 2009 grant to the museum of $1.7 million from the Howard K. L. Castle Foundation was “sorely needed.”  A peek at the museum’s 2007 tax return showed a fund balance of $74.9 million.

•$238,000 by Senate appropriator Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) for the Alaska PTA in Anchorage to “train parents in their roles and responsibilities under the No Child left Behind Act.”

•$30,000,000 by Senate Military Construction Appropriations Subcommittee member Daniel Inouye (D-Hawaii), Sen. Daniel Akaka (D-Hawaii), and Rep. Neil Abercrombie (D-Hawaii) for Phase Five of an access road at Pohakuloa Training Area.  Since 2002, the Pohakuloa Training Area has received six earmarks worth $74.4 million.

•$9,000,000 by then-Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-N.Y.), Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.), and Rep. Louise Slaughter (D-N.Y.) for a dining facility/community center at the Niagara Falls Air Reserve Station.

•$15,000,000 added by the House for the International Fund for Ireland (IFI).  Established in 1986, IFI’s objectives are to “promote economic and social advance and to encourage contact, dialogue and reconciliation between nationalists and unionists throughout Ireland.”  Projects funded by IFI in the past have included building a replica of the Jeanie Johnson (a Canadian ship that once ferried famine victims across the Atlantic), and Ben and Jerry’s ice cream stores.   CAGW has identified $264 million for this project since 1995.