News: CJ Exclusives

NC Is Lean on Federal Pork

Citizens Against Government Waste finds NC delegation near bottom in scoring federal funds

RALEIGH—Citizens Against Government Waste, a Washington, D.C.-based organization that identifies and publicizes frivolous spending by the federal government, released its annual “Pig Book” Wednesday.

The report is CAGW’s “exposé of the most glaring and irresponsible pork-barrel projects in the 13 annual appropriations bills and their sponsors.”

According to the nonprofit organization’s press release, “the total number of pork-projects hidden in the 13 appropriations bills — seven of which were lumped together into one omnibus spending bill and passed in January — is a record 10,656, 13 percent over last year’s eye-popping total of 9,362.”

CAGW reported that the total is an increase of 384 percent over six years. Total pork spending also increased to a record $22.9 billion, 1.6 percent higher than last year’s high of $22.5 billion, according to the “Pig Book.”

“As Americans prepare their taxes, which are due next week, they should look at both parties in Congress with scorn,” CAGW President Thomas Schatz said. “Republicans and Democrats alike have shown a total disregard for the $521 billion deficit and $7.1 trillion debt, and by doing so, a lack of respect for taxpayers.”

For the second straight year Alaska, Hawaii, and the District of Columbia ranked first, second, and third respectively in highest pork spending per capita. CAGW said Alaska spent $808.13 per capita, far exceeding Hawaii’s $392.92 per capita.

Alaska Sen. Ted Stevens, chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee, won the CAGW’s Whole Hog Award for getting $524 million in pork for his state, and he also won the Taxpayers Get Scrooged Award for his efforts to get $2.2 million for recreational improvements in North Pole, Alaska, population, 1,570.

To be considered pork, an appropriation must meet one of the following criteria:

• Requested by only one chamber of Congress;
• Not specifically authorized;
• Not competitively awarded;
• Not requested by the president;
• Greatly exceeds the president’s budget request or the previous year’s funding;
• Not the subject of congressional hearings; or
• Serves only a local or special interest.

North Carolina’s pork

CAGW reported that North Carolina, after finishing 51st last year in per-capita pork spending, ranked second-to-last this year. Only New Jersey’s congressmen brought home less bacon per person than the North Carolina’s.

According to the Pig Book, the 2004 federal budget contained $101.03 million in total pork spending for North Carolina, an average of $11.70 in pork per capita.

Only a couple of appropriations for North Carolina were rated worthy for specific mention by CAGW in its Pig Book summary.

One was for $6.1 million for “wood utilization research” for 11 states, which included North Carolina.

Another was a $400,000 Department of Interior allocation by Rep. Charles Taylor, for the Old Henderson County Courthouse. Taylor chairs the Interior Appropriations subcommittee.

Paul Chesser is associate editor of Carolina Journal. Contact him at [email protected]