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Jewish World Review Oct. 3, 2003 / 7 Tishrei, 5764

Tom Purcell

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Consumer Reports

Iraqi Pork | "Heaven only knows what kind of pork is going to be in this bill," said Vinnie the Number Cruncher, my gray-haired accountant.

"What are you talking about, Vinnie?"

"Kid, the president requested $87 billion in emergency spending to support rebuilding activities in Iraq and the ongoing war on terror. The Senate Appropriations Committee just passed the bill and now we're waiting for the House version."


"Well, our esteemed members of Congress never miss an opportunity to slip goodies into spending bills. Heaven only knows what kind of pork projects we'll find when this one is said and done."

"But that request has nothing to do with pet projects."

"So na´ve, kid. Look, don't you remember a year ago when the anti-terrorism bill was passed? Its purpose was to fund projects that will protect America against terrorist attacks, but our legislators saw it as an opportunity to line up at the pork trough."

"You're kidding me."

"According to Citizens Against Government Waste, the president asked for $27 billion but Congress ballooned his request to $31 billion. When the bill passed, it included all kinds of goodies, such as $11 million for New England fisheries, $2.5 million to map coral reefs in Hawaii, and $2 million for the Smithsonian worm collection."

"I guess worms need protection from terrorists, too."

"Well, another major phase in the war on terrorism brought us into Iraq. We can debate whether or not that was the right move, but no one can debate that Congress saw it as a another opportunity to fund pork."

"It was?"

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"That $75 billion bill was supposed to spend $63 billion on the war, $8 billion on foreign aid and humanitarian funding, and $4 billion more on homeland security. What it wasn't supposed to do was fund a $1.4 million dog kennel at an Air Force Base in Alaska or spend $13.6 million for a fitness center at the Randolph Air Force Base."

"Holy cow."

"So here we are again, kid. We've got a doozey of a situation in Iraq. We're working with the Iraqis to help them build a democracy from scratch and no matter how you cut it, that's going to cost a lot of dough."

"I hear estimates in the $200 billion range."

"That's right, kid, and to keep the ball rolling, the president has requested an additional $87 billion. Most of that is to support our military, which is in bad need of new supplies, training and other items to keep them as safe as possible in a very hostile place. But $20 billion of it is supposed to build a new infrastructure to help get the Iraqi economy on its feet as quickly as possible."

"And the Senate Appropriations Committee finally approved this request?"

"Just last week, kid. Senate Democrats did all they could to stall the request - in a Democracy there should be some debate about what we do and what we spend - but the fact is that the longer they could stall the request, the more time both Democrats and Republicans would have to sneak in their goodies. You can be sure that the House Appropriations Committee is looking for pork opportunities on that spending request as we speak."

"You're getting cynical in your old age, Vinnie."

"It ain't cynicism, kid, it's experience. You'd think with America being at war - with our deficit at record levels - that Congress would abandon business as usual to do what's best for America and the world, but that ain't the case."

"Tell me it isn't so, Vinnie."

"Kid, Citizens Against Government Waste says Congress porked out at record levels this year. They packed 9,362 wasteful spending projects into the budget at a cost of $22.5 billion to taxpayers. That's enough dough to cover the President's initial request for rebuilding Iraq."

"That's outrageous."

"The fact is Congress has wasted $162 billion on pork since 1991. With that kind of dough, we could rebuild a lot of countries. But I guess America has more important priorities."

"Such as?"

"I don't know about you, but I'm happy those worms at the Smithsonian are living in a $2 million pad."

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07/18/03: "Ain't-my-fault" lawsuits are becoming more creative
07/18/03: The real story never makes for good summertime drama in Washington
07/11/03: Government bureaucrats, not elected officials, are really the ones determining what people and organizations can and can't do
07/03/03: Overworked Americans
06/27/03: The Metrosexual Male
06/20/03: Crime Etiquette in Washington, D.C.
06/13/03: My Father, the Thief and the MGB
06/05/03: An Open Letter to Bill and Hillary
05/30/03: We are a busy people
05/23/03: Liar, Liar
05/16/03: Laffer all the way to the bank
05/09/03: My mother's house
05/02/03: Teaching the Iraqis how to protest
04/25/03: Iraqi TV
04/21/03: Explaining Democracy to the Iraqis
04/11/03: Major increases to the beer tax? That's a cheap shot right to the beer gut
04/04/03: War humor
03/31/03: Dolphins, PETA and the USA
03/21/03: Traffic Wars
03/14/03: Ronald Reagan's St. Patrick's Day
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02/21/03: I'm worried about my people
02/14/03: George Washington Makeover
02/07/03: Making quiet sacrifices
01/24/03: "Gimme the, goo-goo, gah-gah, remote!"
01/21/03: "Misunderestimated"
01/10/03: Republican night life
01/06/03: Exercise pills
12/31/02: They provide unending joy to those who are wise enough to let them in
12/13/02: Hurried Man Syndrome
12/06/02: In DC, snowstorms have important ramifications --- or, at least, they should
11/26/02: Police advertising
11/15/02: An Interview with Osama
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10/25/02: On edge in Washington, D.C
10/11/02: Giving new meaning to "selling your body"
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09/27/02: Conservatives, Liberals, Dick Armey and Barry Manilow
09/20/02: Are SUV drivers are the new GOPers?
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09/06/02: The Freedom to Picnic
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08/09/02: Vacationless prez and gutless Americans
07/26/02: Study gives women permission not to hide their emotions
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© 2002, Tom Purcell