Saying No to Pork

In normal life, people are told "enough" all the time. "Enough video games!" say the parents to the kids. "Enough watching sports on TV!" says the wife. "Enough shopping!" says the husband.

But does anyone say enough to the big shots?

Some serious money is wasted by the government. I'd say they spend like drunken sailors, except sailors spend their own money while congressmen spend your money on pet projects for their states.

Watch the story Friday on "20/20" at 10 p.m. EDT

The president believes that Congress can do a better job with your money. He complains that they sneak the pork through -- piles of it. "These things didn't get voted on, and yet they have the force of law," the president said in a speech, holding up a large stack of congressional earmarks.

Half a million dollars went to the Museum of Glass in Tacoma, Wash. And another $1 million for high-tech gear that looks for aliens -- not illegal aliens, but extraterrestrials! A congressman slipped that into this year's defense bill, but Congress refused to say who it was.

"The time has come to end this practice," President Bush said in his State of the Union address.

Pet Projects

But who in Congress really wants to end it? After all, you can get re-elected by spending other Americans' money on people in your state.

Well, at least one senator wants to cut back on that spending -- Tom Coburn of Oklahoma.

"The oath that we take has no mention of our state. The oath we take is to do what is in the best interest of the country as a whole," Coburn said.

During one Senate session, he was trying to stop Congress from spending a half a million dollars on a sculpture park in Washington state.

"And we're going to take money from housing and urban development, and we're gonna build a sculpture park," he said.

Sen. Patty Murray of Washington was mad at Coburn for criticizing her pet project.

"We must not, and we will not, go down the road of picking on one senator or the other on the floor of the U.S. Senate," Murray said.

Sen. Christopher "Kit" Bond of Missouri was mad too.

"I don't need a senator from Oklahoma telling me what's good in Missouri, or telling the senator from Washington what's good for the state of Washington," he said.

"If they start stripping out this project, Sen. Bond and I are likely to be taking a long serious at their projects," said Sen. Murphy. "You know, as the old saying goes: What is good for the goose is good for the gander. And I tell my colleagues, your project may be next."

Parking Lots and Teapots

Coburn is an unusual politician. He doesn't ask for pork for his state, and he fights against everyone else's pork, like the almost $1 million that's going to expand a parking lot at a Nebraska art museum.

"The fact that we would spend close to a million dollars on a parking facility instead of putting that to the area where we meet more human needs, to me, seems to be in the wrong priority," Coburn said.

Coburn believes that "enough is enough."

"Why would we continue to do things that shackle our grandchildren?" he asked.

And what's his response to other members of Congress who say that they're building useful things -- necessary infrastructure in their districts?

Page
  • 1
  • |
  • 2
Join the Discussion
blog comments powered by Disqus
 
You Might Also Like...
See It, Share It
Newborns at this hospital on Christmas Day get the special stockings as a keepsake.
Magee-Womens Hospital at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center
PHOTO:
Zillow | Inset: Larry Marano/Getty Images
PHOTO: Anthony Lemons glances to family and friends at the Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Court
Marvin Fong/The Plain Dealer/AP Photo