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Mark Tapscott continues his excellent watchdog duties as he prepares to leave the Heritage Foundation for greener pastures at the Examiner newspaper chain (coming to a town near you, and soon). Mark posts the latest hostile reaction to Porkbusters by the former Senate Majority Leader, Trent Lott:
Former Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott, the Republican from Mississippi, has had it to here with Porkbusters and other critics of pork barrel spending like Sen. Tom Coburn, R-OK, who think the federal government has better things to do with $700 million of the taxpayers money than tear up a just-repaired coastal rail line and replace it with a new highway.
Said Lott when asked by an AP reporter about criticism of the project he has long championed and which was just funded in a Senate Appropriations Committee bill to pay for the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, as well as additional Hurricane Katrina relief:
"I'll just say this about the so-called porkbusters. I'm getting damn tired of hearing from them. They have been nothing but trouble ever since Katrina. We in Mississippi have not asked for more than we deserve. We've been very reasonable."
Nearly $300 million worth of repairs to the line were just completed in January, financed by CSX Railroad and its insurance company. No word yet on how CSX or its insurance company feel about the plan favored by Lott and his fellow Mississippi Republican Senator Thad Cochran to tear up the tracks and replace them with a highway to serve the heavily populated coastal region.
No one doubts that Mississippi suffered a tremendous blow from Katrina, and no one wants to sit on their hands and tell Mississippians to pound sand, either. However, we want to know that the money we spend in the Gulf region gets to those who need it the most and is used wisely. Tearing up newly built railroad tracks that cost $300 million in order to spend another $700 million on a highway to replace it sounds like a billion dollars down the tubes -- and that money comes from the American taxpayer, not from trees.
The money, in this case, is secondary. What I find most troubling is Trent Lott's attitude that federal spending is none of my business, and it's not the first time he's as much as said so. We elect representatives to spend our money carefully and wisely, and it's apparent that Trent Lott doesn't give a damn about that. He's much more concerned with conducting his office in the Robert Byrd manner, in which he leverages his seniority to drag as much money from American taxpayers home to Mississippi, in order to maintain his popularity and cement his incumbent advantage in the next election.
I doubt that Mississippi will dump Lott any time soon. However, we need to continue to press for accountability from Lott and all of the other porkers who believe that the American public should cease questioning them about their spending habits. If nothing else, perhaps we'll annoy them out of office -- and then we can elect people who understand that they're spending our money and should expect to be held accountable for it.Sphere It View blog reactions
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