Thursday, April 06, 2006

Trent Lott "damn tired" of Porkbusters nailing him

Porkbusters, a non-partisan equal opportunity basher of pork barrel spending, has irked Senator Trent Lott (R-MS). How? They have thrown the spotlight on Lott for his frivolous pork project. Details:
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."

The government just spent $300 million to repair the rail line that Lott and his fellow Mississippi Republican Senator Thad Cochran want to tear up and replace with a highway to serve the heavily populated coastal region.
Actually, the AP is wrong about "the government just spent $300 million" on the repair. It turns out that the $300 million repair (a) was completed in January, yet three months later Lott needs $700 million more in repairs (was there a hurricane since January I missed?); and (b) was "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" (link).

It's saddening to see Lott whip out the Katrina card to defend spending $700 million of confiscated taxpayer money on a railroad that was recently repaired. As Tom Schatz, president of Citizens Against Government Waste, puts it: "For $700 million, the Congress could certainly do a lot more to help people that are still without homes. It's certainly unclear what this has to do with an emergency. It sounds like a wish list from the senators from Mississippi."

This plundering and squandering of the taxpayers' fruits of labor is one of many reasons the GOP finds itself in trouble this election year. They used to stand for fiscal discipline and least, they used to pretend that way.