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No Pork in the Stimulus?

Posted on February 24, 2009

No Pork in the Stimulus?


 


            Norah O’Donnell got me again.  I admit it.


 


            I was on her show yesterday, and she caught me with a simple question. 


 


            Name me some pork in the stimulus package, she asked simply.


 


            My mind went blank.  I hemmed and hawed.  And nothing came to mind.


 


            No excuses.  I should have had a ready answer and I didn’t.


 


            So does my dumb answer mean that there is no pork in the stimulus package?


 


            When I missed a question on my algebra test in high school, does that mean that the laws of mathematics were somehow proved to be false?


 


            No and no.


 


            There is plenty of pork in the stimulus bill.


 


            Harry Reid put money in for a high speed rail project between Las Vegas and Los Angeles.  That is pork that befits a Senate Majority leader.


 


            The Washington Times reported about Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s pork:


Lawmakers and administration officials divulged Wednesday that the $789 billion economic stimulus bill being finalized behind closed doors in Congress includes $30 million for wetlands restoration that the Obama administration intends to spend in the San Francisco Bay Area to protect, among other things, the endangered salt marsh harvest mouse.


House Speaker Nancy Pelosi represents the city of San Francisco and has previously championed preserving the mouse's habitat in the Bay Area.”


 


            There are plenty of other examples. They include $200 million for a clean-burning power plant in Mattoon, Ill., and $750 million for the National Computer Center and $500 million for the National Institutes of Health offices, both located in Maryland.


 


            Now, one person’s pork is another person’s vitally important economic development program.  That is what defenders called the Lawrence Welk Museum years ago. 


 


            But the purpose of any economic stimulus plan should be to stimulate growth in the private sector, not growth in the government.  This package was heavy on government growth (including a lot of pork) and light on private sector growth.


 


            Later this week, Congress will take up another big spending package, this one filled with even more pork.   If Norah asks me example for pork in that package, I will be ready with many examples.