Mississippi Republicans "Railroad to Nowhere" and other Irresponsible Earmarks
- Republican Senators Trent Lott and Thad Cochran attached $700 million to reroute a railroad to facilitate casino development in Mississippi. The project is now being dubbed, "The Railroad to Nowhere."
- $4 billion for a farm bailout even as the farm economy booms.
- $594 million in additional highway spending (on the heels of last year’s $286 billion highway bill).
- $1.1 billion for the fisheries industry.
- $2.3 billion to combat avian flu (on the heels of $3.8 billion appropriated last December).
- An additional $20 million more for poorly managed AmeriCorps program.
Senator Tom Coburn (R-Okla.), who successfully challenged Alaska's "Bridge to Nowhere", is planning to challenge the funding when the $106.5 billion war spending bill reaches the Senate floor. "American taxpayers are generous and are happy to restore damaged property, but it is wrong for senators to turn this tragedy into a giveaway for economic developers."
"We have real needs that we have to meet for rebuilding in the Gulf Coast, and with our tight budgets, this is almost a zero-sum game," said Steve Ellis, vice president of Taxpayers for Common Sense. "And now we're taking about moving a railroad that's been rebuilt already? That doesn't make sense."
"There's nothing wrong with this if Mississippi wants to do it. Mississippi wanted to do it before the hurricane," Coburn said. "But why is it a federal responsibility? Why should our grandchildren pay for it?"
President Bush has asked for a line-item veto, which congress doesn't seem likely to grant. If the President wishes to rebuild any political capital with conservatives, now is the time to use his veto option to send a clear message to House and Senate Republicans. It's time to become fiscally responsible, quit chasing big oil, and clean up your own mess.