Is Seuss Memorial Green Eggs and Pork?

Americans grew up with Dr. Seuss, and even today, some 45 years since he first caught our fancy, Seuss' characters are motivating kids to read.

But is a tribute to the author of The Cat in the Hat, Green Eggs and Ham and How The Grinch Stole Christmas! worth almost $1 million to taxpayers?

Dr. Seuss was really Theodor Geisel. He passed away in 1991, and the people in his town thought he deserved a memorial.

Now, nearly $1 million of the public's tax dollars are going to Springfield, Mass., to pay for improvements surrounding the monument.

Taxpayer Groups Upset

Taxpayer groups don't like it. They say it's a case of green eggs and pork.

"Like The Cat in the Hat, this grant just keeps on coming back," said Pete Sepp, a spokesman for the Taxpayers Union. "It's one of the sillier things that the federal government has ever engaged in."

The Seuss memorial will include five bronze statues — Dr. Seuss and his characters.

The total cost will be $6 million. More than $5 million is coming from private donations, but the rest, about $900,000, will be taxpayer funds to pay for landscaping and for wheelchair-accessible sidewalks required by the Federal Americans with Disabilities Act.

Geisel's publisher, Random House, has contributed $15,000, less than some might have hoped. In 45 years, Dr. Seuss sold an estimated 100 million books, and the company is thought to have earned millions from video sales.

Random House had no comment on the Seuss memorial.

Ways of Washington

But this is not a strictly Seussian concern. After all, taxpayers also paid for another animal icon — a talking Smokey Bear in Washington, D.C. The public paid $55,000 for the attraction that greets visitors at the Forest Service Museum.

In a statement, the Forest Service said, "Smokey is a beloved icon of the nation. No information center about our national forests would be complete without him."

True as that may be, why is it that taxpayers end up paying for talking bears and big brass cats?

According to Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., most members of Congress have no idea they'd even voted for the appropriations, which often are buried in the fine print of other legislation.

"We're getting to the point where literally all the money is earmarked by members of Congress in appropriations bills, in closed rooms with no review as to their virtue or lack there of," McCain said.

For those citizens who feel like visiting the Dr. Seuss Memorial they helped pay for, it was unveiled in Springfield, Mass., on Friday.

ABCNEWS' Chris Cuomo contributed to this report.

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