Saturday, December 24, 2005

Bridge Over Troubled Water

Congress has left Washington for a well-deserved recess. Not that they deserved it, but we did.

The irresponsibility and profligacy of the U.S. Congress are boundless. Shameless spenders of other peoples' money, the vast majority of our Representatives -- with a few key exceptions, such as Ron Paul, Jeff Flake, and Mike Pence -- had better find coal in their stockings tomorrow morning. If not, Santa Claus has not been checking his list once, much less twice.

The latest evidence for what Congress has done to us is chronicled by David Boaz in an article for Reason Online. Remember those "bridges to nowhere" in Alaska that were going to cost taxpayers millions of dollars, but that, in the aftermath of Katrina, were tabled? Well, they weren't tabled.

Writes Boaz:

Whether you’ve gotten a card or not, rest assured that Alaska thanks you for the $454 million Christmas present. Remember those “bridges to nowhere” that were finally taken out of the federal budget? Well, they’re back.
When Katrina hit and so many people were displaced, some members of Congress insisted on diverting money from pork-barrel projects to humanitarian assistance. The pressure was especially hard on the Alaska projects, since they were so transparently useless and larcenous.

Boaz continues:

It got so bad that Sen. Ted Stevens (R-Alaska), chairman of the Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, roared, “If the Senate decides to discriminate against our state . . . I will resign from this body." Taxpayer advocates could only pray that he would keep his word.

And sure enough, Congress acted. Headlines across the country echoed this one in the New York Times: “Two 'Bridges to Nowhere' Tumble Down in Congress.” The Times story began, “Congressional Republicans decided Wednesday to take a legislative wrecking ball to two Alaskan bridge projects that had demolished the party's reputation for fiscal austerity."

Good news indeed. Except – Ted Stevens didn’t resign from Congress. Why not? Because it was all a show, just smoke and mirrors. Congress removed the requirement that Alaska use the money for the bridges to nowhere. But the state still got the money – a $454 million blank check.

Christmas Eve brings with it Currier-and-Ives images of snowy meadows on chilly nights. As a Christmas gift this year, Congress has given us quite a nice snow job.

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