There is a national movement (which is probably too grand a term) of bloggers who are trying to reduce the amount of pork in legislation. Their primary tool is attention. These bloggers have been pointing out projects that Congress has agreed to fund which may not be the best use of taxpayers’ money. The Alaska bridge to nowhere was one of their first victories.
There are a few Members of Congress who have been supporting efforts to limit pork. Sen. Tom Coburn (R-OK) is the most vocal, but Rep. Jeff Flake (R-AZ) has also been doing good work. Over the past few weeks he has introduced a series of 19 amendments designed to strip specific line-item projects out of the budget. All of his amendments failed.
However, by forcing votes on the amendments, each member of the House of Representatives had to go on record 19 times on whether they supported projects like Hydroponic Tomato Production in Ohio ($180,000) or the National Grape and Wine Initiative ($100,000). A complete list of the 19 projects, and more information on Porkbusters, can be found at the Club for Growth.
In Virginia, the results were disappointing. All of our representatives voted for the majority of the projects. Drake, Scott, Forbes, Goode, Goodlatte, Moran (surprise!), Boucher, and Wolf voted for every single project. Jo Ann Davis, Cantor and Tom Davis all voted to end funding for three of the projects, but voted yes on the other 16.
Overall, Democrats were more supportive of the programs than Republicans, but the distinction was not great. I don’t think the slogan “We’re not quite as irresponsible with your money as the other guys” is a winner. The Republicans look to do poorly this fall in part because Conservatives are not happy with Congress’ willingness to spend like, well, Democrats. Flake has shown, once again, that Republicans in Congress are not notably more fiscally conservative than Democrats.
Taken individually, many of the 19 programs may have merit – but that’s the problem. Most government programs have merit on some level. Almost all help somebody. Being a fiscal conservative isn’t about opposing programs that don’t do any good. It is about asking if a program ought to be the government’s responsibility, and then asking if the gains to all taxpayers out-weigh the cost to all taxpayers.
Clearly, Virginia’s Representatives haven’t been asking these questions.
(BVBL: Covering Virginia Politics so the Mainstream Media Doesn’t Have To)
(Hat Tip: Instapudit)
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