Pork by any other name is still pork. At least that's true in Washington, D.C., where Congress is outdoing itself by spending the budget surplus almost as fast as it is being generated. While Republican Presidential candidate George W. Bush calls for a smaller government, and Democratic candidate Al Gore talks about a more active government, members of both parties are piling on spending bills that can only lead to big government. This is irresponsible behavior that both Bush and Gore should publicly condemn.
Check the numbers. The congressional budget resolution for fiscal 2000 held discretionary spending at $600 billion--in line with last year. President Clinton and the Democrats came back with appropriations totaling $625 billion, and the Republicans are adding enough to top $650 billion. That's nearly an 8% growth rate in spending in a single year. If this keeps up, a big chunk of the surplus will be gone before the next President gets a chance to implement any policies.
And for what? Senator John McCain (R-Ariz.) recently published a list of the 100 worst appropriations in the Interior Dept. spending bill alone. Among his favorites: $400,000 for the Southside Sportsman Club in New York; $200,000 to the United Fishermen of Alaska to tell others about subsistence activities; and $487,000 for a carriage barn in Longfellow, a National Historic Site in Massachusetts. Much largesse appears to go to members of the congressional appropriations committees and legislators facing tight November elections.
The role of government is a legitimate election year issue. Even as Presidential candidates debate the proper balance between government and the individual in supporting Social Security and Medicare, Congress is playing the big government game. Bush and Gore should tell their party members in Congress to cut the pork.