Reid, you see, needs to stimulate his re-election bid, so he haggled with President Obama to tuck in a teeny, tiny, yes, porky amendment for high-speed rail lines. Reid has his eyes -- and paws -- on a proposed Los Angeles-to-Las Vegas magnetic levitation train. He has already sunk $45 million in previous earmarks into his, yes, pet project. Wasn't it earlier this week that Obama was lecturing companies not to travel to Las Vegas on the taxpayers' dime?
But I digress. Along with these not-earmarks, not-pet projects, there's $2 billion for impeached Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich's pet FutureGen near-zero emissions power plant project, $300 million for souped-up "green" golf carts for government workers, $30 million for "smart appliances" and $65 million for digital TV coupons. According to Hill Republicans, money for basic highways and bridges was cut by $1 billion from the House-passed level, but:
-- $9 billion for school construction was added back in (originally cut by the Nelson-Collins "compromise");
-- $5 billion was added to the state fiscal stabilization fund (originally cut by Nelson-Collins), making it a grand total of $53.6 billion;
-- $1 billion was added back for Prevention & Wellness Programs, including STD education; and
-- $2 billion for neighborhood stabilization programs.
As I've reported previously, that "neighborhood stabilization" slush fund money will end up in the pockets of left-wing shakedown artists such as ACORN and the Massachusetts-based Neighborhood Assistance Corporation of America (NACA), led by self-proclaimed "bank terrorist" Bruce Marks. There's an additional $3.25 billion in HUD grants and Community Development Block Grants in the bill that will also inevitably find its way into the coffers of these housing-entitlement lobbying groups.
Another egregious not-earmark earmark that survived untouched: $2 billion for the National Parks Service championed by House Democratic conferee and Appropriations Chairman Rep. David Obey. A report by the GOP minority on the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee revealed that Obey's son, Craig, lobbied the panel and advocated for the stimulus plan on behalf of the National Parks Conservation Association.
All told -- and safely assuming the major spending provisions become permanently enshrined -- the final price tag of this government hogzilla of all hogzillas over the next 10 years will be a whopping $3.27 trillion with a capital "T."