Tom Schatz, president of the watchdog group, Citizens Against Government Waste, has noted, "There are three parties in Washington: Democrats, Republicans and appropriators." The surest sign of eternal life in Washington is a government program. Recall "the bridge to nowhere." Congress last year earmarked $230 million to build a bridge that would connect Gravina Island, Alaska (population 50) to the town of Ketchikan. After a public outcry and a temper tantrum by Sen. Ted Stevens, Congress removed the earmark instructions and allowed Alaska authorities to spend the money as they wish.
A lousy idea, however, does not mean loss of an appropriation. Outgoing Alaska Governor Frank Murkowski (R) is still trying to keep the project alive. According to the Associated Press, "the lame duck governor hopes to award a $30 million contract for roadwork leading to the proposed bridge by Dec. 1, three days before he leaves office." Incoming Republican Governor-elect Sarah Paulin (R) "supports construction of the bridge but has neither commented on the current governor's actions nor explained how she plans to cover the cost."
It's difficult to take either party seriously when it repeatedly promises reform, but does little or nothing. In an interview with the Honolulu Advertiser the day following the election, Sen. Inouye said he had "a chat with Senator Stevens before the election. We pledged to each other that no matter what happens, we will continue with our tested system of bipartisanship, and we've been doing this for the past 25 years, and it's worked."
It's worked for them, perhaps, but it hasn't worked for those who pay for the pork. Nothing changes and nothing will change unless there are more and frequent outcries by outraged taxpayers.
Cal Thomas is co-author (with Bob Beckel) of the book, "Common Ground: How to Stop the Partisan War That is Destroying America".
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