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Redirect highway pork to Katrina relief

Posted by Richard on September 8, 2005

Ron Utt of The Heritage Foundation thinks that Congress should revisit the recently-passed transportation bill and redirect at least half the pork in it to Katrina relief:

Private citizens across the country have chosen to make personal sacrifices to help these people in need. Publicly spirited Members of Congress should join their constituents and make a sacrifice of their own—take some of the funding doled out in the recent highway bill to low-priority earmarked projects and redirect it to rebuild the infrastructure devastated by Katrina.

The bill contained more than 6,000 so-called "earmarks" — pork projects that members of Congress bring home to their districts as trophies. Utt wants them to make a "personal sacrifice" (hah!) and forego these projects:

… As Mississippi and Louisiana confront the replacement of dozens of wrecked bridges, is it possible that Rep. Don Young (R-AK) could give up one of the two $200 million dollar bridges he secured for his state? Perhaps Alaskans could go without the one that will serve a town of just fifty people, who now ride a ferry?

 … As Congress considers the vast suffering in Louisiana, is it possible that Richmond, Indiana, could give up its $3 million dollar hiking trail? Could Newark, New Jersey pass on its $2 million earmark for Waterfront Pedestrian and Bicycle Access? And can Hoboken, New Jersey, do likewise with the $8 million planned for its Waterfront Walkway? What about the $3 million that Modesto, California, expects to get for its Rails to Trails program, the $5 million Bridgeport, Connecticut, grabbed for an Intermodal Transportation facility, the $5 million Delaware will get to improve the Auto Tour Route at the Bombay Hook Wildlife Refuge, and the $6.5 million that state will receive for the Wilmington Train Station Restoration? In the face of genuine need, don’t these expensive projects seem comparatively frivolous?

If enough people write their congresscritter and newspaper in support of this idea, it actually has some chance of success. Heritage and similar organizations would have to take the lead, encouraging their members and supporters to write those letters.

It would help if people could easily find the "earmark(s)" in their own congressional district — a "pork lookup" web page where you enter your ZIP code to find your local pork projects. A letter that says "I think we Podunkians can do without the expansion of the Podunk Bus Museum in order to help the Katrina victims" would be much more effective and powerful than some generic "cut the pork" plea.

Anybody know anybody at Cato, Reason, Heartland, etc., who might want to take this on as a project? The costs associated with this disaster are going to pile up fast — Bush will try to demonstrate that he’s not an uncaring racist, and Congress will try to go him one better on whatever he proposes. Let’s at least try to take some of it out of the existing pork instead of our wallets — or our grandchildren’s wallets.

(HT: Instapundit)

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