Saturday, November 05, 2005

I Don't Want to Say It

But, I will. We told you so. Some of us (i.e. basically everyone outside of Congress, and even a few inside) recognized (here, here, here for some of my own thoughts on the matter) the fiscal insanity of the highway bill before it was passed; it didn't take the outrages of Katrina to make clear that spending tens of millions of dollars on pork-barrel projects in the middle of a war with deficits as far as the eye can see was a good idea. Some others, apparently, are a little slow. The Washington Post headlines today a Shailagh Murray piece titled "Some in GOP Regretting Pork-Stuffed Highway Bill." Well it's about time.

Murray leads off with "The highway bill seemed like such a good idea when it sailed through Congress this summer. But now Republicans who assembled the record spending package are suffering buyer's remorse," going on to note that while Congressfolks are usually overeager to rush home and crow about the "bacon" they're bringing to their district, this time, it's different. "But with spiraling war and hurricane recovery costs, the pork-laden bill has become a political albatross for Republicans, who have been promising since President Bush took office to get rid of wasteful spending."

The problem is, those who want to reallocate or rescind the highway-bill pork are basically those who were opposed in the first place. As Murray writes, "McCain and six other Senate Republicans want to reallocate the pork dollars in the bill to help pay for the damage caused by hurricanes Katrina and Rita. Rep. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.), one of eight House members who opposed the legislation, and who declined any special projects for his district, wants to rescind 10 percent of the bill's total cost and allow states to disregard the pet projects authorized by the legislation, and spend the money as they wish."

Both would be fine steps. However, they're going to need more support than themselves. The strong blogospheric and outside support for the Coburn Amendment (which brought about one of the most amusing Senate moments ever from cranky-pants Senator Stevens) was heartening, and that level of outrage needs to continue and increase. Republicans (and Democrats) all need to be made embarrassed about their pork-addicted ways - that's the only way we'll get change.


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