Senator Schumer: "And let me say this, to all of the chattering class, that so much focuses on those little, tiny — yes, porky — amendments: The American people really don’t care."
Chuck Schumer is my Senator and, all things considered in his 30-year career as a public official, a good guy and an effective representative of our state.
But give us a break Chuck! Of course we folks care about whether there is unnecessary, non-stimulative pork in the bill. Even the "little, tiny" items add up quickly, perhaps to tens of billions of dollars. Just because in these tough days, we're counting expenditures in the trillions doesn't mean we shouldn't or don't care about tens of billions (or even just plain billions) anymore.
My favorite targets to remove "porky" spending from the final two-house bill are these:
A $2-billion earmark for FutureGen near zero emissions powerplant in Mattoon, Illinois (championed by disgraced former Governor Rod Blagojevich.
$650 million for the DTV transition coupon program. It can wait.
$850 million for Amtrak, which has already sucked up billions in taxpayer subsidies while continuing to deliver unbelievably crappy service to "little, tiny" groups of train riders in such states as Arlen Specter's Pennsylvania.
That's $3.5 billion right there.
I'm support the need for a stimulus program and accept that spending or tax cuts amounting to more than $800 billion is prudent. But that $3.5 billion could be spent in more economically productive ways.
Chuck will sing a different tune in a year or so when many of these pork items have turned into embarassments and Republican candidates for Congress are beating up on Democrats for pushing through their pet projects.
Now is the time to strip out the pork. We care, and it's the right thing to do.