Six weeks after a fatal Minneapolis bridge collapse prompted criticism of federal spending priorities, the Senate approved a transportation and housing bill Wednesday containing at least $2 billion for pet projects that include a North Dakota peace garden, a Montana baseball stadium and a Las Vegas history museum.Part and parcel of the type of blind hipocrisy so common to professional tax & spenders was his shoe-pounding bleat about how if you don't support a new, higher federal tax on gasoline, God help you.
That's not the half of it.
Rep. Jim Oberstar, D-Minn., who chairs the House Transportation and infrastructure Committee, has proposed a temporary 5-cent-per-gallon gas tax increase that he said would raise $25 billion over three years to help reduce the backlog of critical bridge repairs. Among Oberstar's earmarks in the House transportation bill is $250,000 for a bike trail in his district, which he has defended as legitimate. He did not respond to a request for comment.
"No one in America seriously believes that bike paths, peace gardens and baseball stadiums are more important national priorities than bridge and road repairs," (Sen. Tom Coburn, R-OK) said.
I shouldn't be too hard on ol' Jim, after all - he IS Porker of the Month!
(Oberstar's) committee not only failed to include the higher level of bridge repair funding, it opened the door for members of Congress to stuff the bill with nearly 6,500 pork-barrel projects worth more than $24 billion, about the same amount now being sought by Rep. Oberstar with his proposed tax increase. “High-priority” transportation projects in the 2005 legislation included $452 million for the infamous “Bridges to Nowhere” in Alaska, $5 million to improve air quality in the Sacramento region of California, $4 million to develop bicycle paths and public park space adjacent to the New River in Calexico, California, and $4 million for streetscape, pedestrian improvements in Clarkson, Georgia.
Chairman Oberstar himself was a participant in that earmark melee. Rather than send funds to repair and restore bridges in his state, he added five projects totaling $14.6 million for Duluth, Minnesota, including $3.2 million for the Willard Munger State Trail extension, the longest paved recreational trail in the nation.