Presidential Candidates and Pork-Barrel Spending

The non-partisan taxpayer watchdog group Citizens Against Government Waste (CAGW) has released the 2008 edition of their “Congressional Pig Book, ” which is a compendium of recent pork-barrel spending by our beloved U.S. Congress.

To qualify as pork-barrel spending, a project must meet at least one of the following criteria, though most instances in their report satisfy at least two:

1. Requested by only one chamber of Congress
2. Not specifically authorized
3. Not competitively awarded
4. Not requested by the President
5. Greatly exceeds the President’s budget request or the previous year’s funding
6. Not the subject of congressional hearings
7. Serves only a local or special interest

According to the CAGW report, the year’s biggest offenders are all members of the Senate Appropriations Committee, beginning with Thad Cochran (R-MS) with $892 million; Ted Stevens (R-AK) with $469 million; and Richard Shelby (R-AL) with $465 million.

As for our current Presidential hopefuls, Hillary Clinton is on top with $292.2 million in pork spending spanning 281 individual projects. Barack Obama is second with 53 special projects for a total of $97.4 million. And bringing up the rear (which, in this case, isn’t a bad thing) is John McCain with $0 in pork spending.

12 Responses to “Presidential Candidates and Pork-Barrel Spending”

  1. Anonymous

    Personally, I think President Bush has gotten a raw deal. He was only In office 8 months when 9/11 took place. Americans & our Allies were grieving, angry & ready to fight back. We were United as a Nation. What makes me angry is to hear Politicians say if I knew then what I know now I wouldn’t have voted for the war. Freedom is NOT Free & war is NOT Cheap. It cost Americans a lot of $$$ to impliment new security programs, have security @ our airports,Grow our Military (Which Clinton shrunk) & rebuild what the terrorist destroyed. Yes,President Bush is the Leader of our Great Nation, But he is not the only one making decision on our behalf. WE HAVE SPECIAL INTEREST GROUPS WHICH MANIPULATES A LOT OF WHAT GOES ON IN WASHINGTON. My vote is For McCain who has served our Country his entire life, verses Oboma who’s been in the senate 4 yrs.,associated with terrorist, & unwilling to wear an American Flag pin on his jacket until recently. REGARDLESS OF WHO WINS, WE WILL RISE & FALL AS ONE NATION! SOMETIMES IT TAKES FALLING DOWN ON OUR KNEES ,SO WE CAN LOOK UP & REALIZE WHO’S IN CONTROL OF EVERYTIHING!

  2. Anonymous

    I just find it curious at this point in the campaign that Obama continues to say that he is the Real Agent for Change in Washington, when facts actually support that the original maverick McCain, is the one trying to bring change. If McCain has been able to do this as a Senator, can we see the ceiling come down when Senator McCain becoms President? I think the true agent of change is not Obama/Biden, but instead rests in the McCain/Palin ticket.

  3. Anonymous

    Not all earmarks are self serving.

    Ted Stevens had a big chunk of his for a bridge connecting the airport of Ketchikan to the town which wholly supports Alaska’s second biggest resource. Tourism.

    The inefficient ferry system transports 1/2 million people every year and when its shut down due to weather the connection between the town and the airport is severed.

    I only know what I was able to dig up on Wikipedia and what I heard in the news but it seems to me that earmarks have a purpose. They allow a senator some discretionary funds which they can use in a way that is a locally obvious need, but nationally irrelevant.

    We elect them after all, can we complain that much?

  4. Anonymous

    Charles Rangel should be ashamed of himself:

    “$1,950,000 for the Charles B. Rangel Center for Public Service”

    How pathetic. You (US tax payers)just paid for this egomaniac to put his name on a building.

    Where they put these earmarks is also absurd. The First Tee initiative ($3M for golf lessons) was earmarked in the DEFENSE budget!!!

  5. Anonymous

    Jerry, I wasn’t agreeing with the statement, merely reporting what I heard. Admittedly, they are all extremely liberal and 2 of them actually work for the DNC, so I take their opinion with a grain of salt. I do think McCain would be a significant improvement over Bush, but I’ll still likely vote for Obama if he wins the nomination.

  6. Anonymous

    McCain as Bush-2? That might be an easy tag for the Dems to place on the GOP candidate, but I don’t think it stands up under scrutiny. And no, I’m not a Republican. While McCain may side with Bush on some issues, such as Iraq (not a minor point, IMHO), he is also generally more fiscally conservative and has a clue about the environment, which is more than Bush can say. I am not sure where he falls on health insurance woes in our country, but his candidacy will at least lead me to dissect his stands on all of the issues as November approaches.

  7. Nickel

    Dylan: Yeah, that’s a bit odd. However, they did go on to say that “most [instances] satisfy at least two” criteria. I’ve modified the text slightly to reflect this.

  8. Anonymous

    So, if something is not requested by the President, it is considered pork-barrel spending?!?!?

    I’d be curious to know how many projects don’t meet a single one of those 7 criteria.

  9. Anonymous

    I am both thrilled by and skeptical of the John McCain number. Could that really be so? And if it is, is he really effective as a senator? Because either he’s doing little to nothing to further the interests of his constituents, or he’s doing it all upfront (i.e., not hiding the dollars), which would be both admirable and astonishing.

  10. Anonymous

    It continues to amaze me how hundreds of millions of dollars are just flung around on capitol hill…Its like they think that there is an endless supply of it. Ahh, what the heck, just have the treasury print some more, right? 🙂


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