Thursday, September 10, 2009

Pork in a barrel

why I will never vote for anything with a tax increase. We need to re-allocate the funds we already give...not give more.

Tracking Your Taxes: The Earmark Kings
With Washington bleeding green, Congress' princes of pork are treating taxpayers like a giant ATM and racking up billions in earmarks for pet projects like a supercomputer that studies fruit flies, a trolley museum in Pennsylvania and a biotech association that doesn't even exist.

In the next 16 days, Congress will spend more than $3 trillion in taxpayer money. To cover these programs, some Americans will be working up to three hours of each day.

Vast amounts of that money will be spent in the form of earmarks, specially designated pet projects that members of Congress use to bring federal funds back to their home states. Since 44 congressmen make no earmarks at all, that means the rest are doing more than their share. For example, in the House, just 4 percent of members took home 32 percent of all the bacon -- and all were members of the Defense Appropriations Committee.

With Washington bleeding green, some congressmen -- the princes of pork -- are treating you like a giant ATM and can't spend your money fast enough.

In the last two years, the self-described earmark king, Sen. Daniel Inouye, D-Hawaii, has sponsored earmarks totaling $2 billion dollars. This year he's at it again:

$12 million to monitor sea turtles and monk seals.

$5 million for a supercomputer to help study planets and fruit flies.

$8 million for a cultural exchange between villages that once made a living killing whales.

$24 million for the East West Center, a private think tank even President Obama wants to cut.

$500,000 for music enrichment programs for Native Hawaiian children -- part of $59 million for health and education programs targeted to Native Alaskans or Hawaiians.
Inouye is one of the last of a generation of unapologetic earmarkers who feel it's their job to bring federal dollars home. And when they reach Inouye's level of seniority -- he is chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee -- they can bring home a lot. He once even appropriated $20 million for a museum where he was chairman.

The top Republican spender, Mississippi Sen. Thad Cochran, made waves in 2009 with the largest earmark ever -- $439 million to restore barrier islands off the Mississippi coast, a giant project that comes on top of $80 billion that taxpayers have already forked over to rebuild in the wake of Hurricane Katrina.

This year (in fiscal year 2009), Cochran helped sponsor 259 earmarks worth $1.2 billion, but he's now aiming for a dubious distinction: he wants $2.6 billion for 2010 -- a record for a single politician:

$201 million to his alma mater, the University of Mississippi, including $10 million for programs at the Thad Cochran Research Center.

$750,000 Mississippi Biotechnology Association building -- an organization that has no members and doesn't exist, and that got $450,000 last year.

$4.4 million to build fire stations, $14 million to improve drinking water in local communities (responsibilities typically left to the states).

$1.6 million for a mobile music lab.

$650,000 to a private Christian school (Piney Woods) on 2,000 wooded acres where student tuition is $31,400.

$400,000 to pay overtime for the Jackson Police Department to combat drug use.

$950,000 for the local Audubon Society, despite national Audubon assets topping $18 million.

Rep. John Murtha, D-Pa., earmarked $120 million this year, and wants another $148 million for 2010:

$500,000 to improve the profitability of dairy farms.

$1 million to toward the $250 million Sky Shuttle, an urban Mag-Lev train for a university in southwest Pennsylvania.

$1 million for a trolley museum.

Sand sand everywhere

OR....why I will never vote for anything with a tax increase. We need to re-allocate the funds we already give...not give more.

Tracking Your Taxes: Tax Dollars Being Washed Out to Sea
Since 1997 Congress has averaged around $100 million a year on beach replenishment projects, but the tons of sand that are dumped in front of luxury hotels and multi-million dollar real estate literally get washed away.

Talk about money running through your fingers.

It's no surprise that many Americans -- who see tax dollars spent for waste and ineffective programs -- feel as though their dollars are literally being tossed out to sea.

But FOX News found one program that does just that.

Sand replenishment projects are allotted millions of tax dollars annually to "rejuvenate" beaches, often just steps from multimillion-dollar beach homes and luxury hotels.

From New England to Florida, North Carolina to California, coastal communities lobby Congress for money to buff up their beaches, even though many of these coastal states have set aside state funds for these projects.

Congress dumps up to $100 million in federally subsidized sand onto American beaches every year -- only to have it washed away by waves.

Taxpayers "replenished" one beach in Cape May, N.J., 10 times between 1962 and 1995 at a cost of $25 million. In nearby Ocean City, N.J., the beach was "replenished" 22 times between 1952 and 1995 for $83 million.

Another beach project in Encinitas, Calif., cost taxpayers $14 million.

Encinitas mayor Maggie Houlihan says it's worth it for locals and tourism, which brings in $43 million a year. "This is another part of maintaining an absolutely critical asset and the reason most of us move to the coast in the first place," she says.

"When you really think about how important the beach is to people's quality of life, it is money well spent."

For years, in an effort to save hundreds of millions of tax dollars, the Congressional Budget Office has recommended eliminating the "Beach Nourishment" program. The CBO projects a $285 million savings over five years if Congress eliminates federal funding for beach replenishment projects.

Critics say the projects are not only economically wasteful, but they pose a negative environmental impact. In one 2004 project in Port St. Lucie, Fla., newly placed sand turned as hard as concrete when it dried, trapping sea turtle hatchlings beneath the surface. The sand had to be entirely removed just two years later.

In May 2007 Senator Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) tried to insert an amendment that would have ended the projects by diverting the money to levee and infrastructure needs. The Senate defeated his amendment by a 77-12 vote.