I get sort of amused when some of my Republican friends complain about all of the “pork” that members of Congress put in federal budgets. Yet these same friends applaud those in Alabama who bring the money home – but only when they are fellow Republicans – and that may seem sort of inconsistent. Although the overall amount of politically-directed “pork” spending dropped this fiscal year, Alabama moved up in state-by-state rankings. A watchdog group’s annual tally revealed that Alabama in fact did very well. On a per-capita basis, according to the “Pig Book” released on April 14th by Citizens Against Government Waste, Alabama, after ranking 16th last year, advanced to 14th. Our state collected at least $242.3 million in earmarks, or about $51 per person, which isn’t too bad. I haven’t heard the GOP bosses in Alabama saying we should send the $242.3 million in federally “earmarked” spending back to Washington. That amount – by the way – was almost twice the national average of about $27 per person, the report indicates.
Nationally, pork spending totaled $16.5 billion this year compared to $19.6 billion last year, according to the report. Although definitions vary, pork – as earmarking is informally known – typically refers to taxpayer money targeted to particular projects on the basis of political clout with little or no formal review on the merits. My friend Sen. Richard Shelby, a senior member of the Senate Appropriations Committee (which plays an influential role in federal spending matters), has done extremely well on this front. I give him very high marks!
Interestingly, Mississippi did even better than our state in the pork parade. Senators and House Members from our neighboring state brought home $324.6 million in pork. But I haven’t heard any fuss in Jackson, the state’s capital, about their bringing in much more pork per capita than the national average. In fact, it appears the GOP governor in Mississippi and other local politicians like the “pork system.” That is interesting to say the least.
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