Your Influence Counts ... Use It! The SPOTLIGHT by Liberty Lobby

Reprinted from, home of The SPOTLIGHT archive

Pork for the Holidays

President Clinton signed the last two spending bills for fiscal year 2001 on Dec. 21 and it was so full of pork that expenditures exceeded what even he had sought.

The bills signed provided funding for the departments of State, Commerce and Justice and a catch-all spending measure.

The final spending figure will ap proach $650 billion, according to Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.). That is $27 billion more than Clinton had requested, $50 billion more than Republicans envisioned in the spring and $100 billion more than would be allowed in this fiscal year under the 1997 budget agreement.

"We paved our way home by spending billions of the taxpayers' dollars," McCain said. "In the run-up to a final agreement, over $24 billion in pork barrel spending was added and that figure will surely climb once we get a good look" at all the bills.

The omnibus spending bill includes:

  • Funding for six cabinet-level departments, many related agencies and Congress' own budget.
  • A five-year, $10 billion package of tax cuts specifically designed to encourage increased investment in poor urban areas and rural areas.
  • A five-year, $35 billion increase in Medicare payments to hospitals, physicians, nursing homes and other providers.

The legislation provides record amounts -- $44.5 billion -- for education programs, $6.5 billion more over fiscal 2000. Traditionally, as federal spending increases, the quality of education decreases as Washington bureaucrats impose more cultural communism programs on local schools on pain of withholding funds.

Republicans striking a conservative pose won a few small victories. The $1 an hour increase in the minimum wage is dead and plans for a school construction bond program were killed. But, on this most decidedly state issue of education, Republicans went along with the administration's call for spending more on school repairs and hiring teachers.

The pork included diverse if useless projects. New spending will help the University of Idaho put its jazz archives on the Internet and create a regional agency to promote the economy of the Mississippi Delta.

Congress is spending $750 million to refurbish the U.S.S. Turner Joy, the destroyer that was supposedly attacked by the North Vietnamese in the Gulf of Tonkin in 1964. Years later, retired military officers acknowledged the "attack" was a fabrication used by President Lyndon Johnson as a license to go to war. That year, Johnson was also portraying Republican candidate Barry Goldwater as a warmonger and promising American mothers to never send their boys to "fight wars Asian boys ought to fight for themselves."

Another $6 million will go to help the University of Tennessee establish a school of government named for former Senate Majority Leader Howard Baker (R-Tenn.).