For those who vaguely remember promises that Democrats would clean up Congress, they might want to look at West Virginia which is dumping ground for $3 billion in earmarks by Sen. Robert Byrd. What is astonishing is that establishment politicians are still scratching their heads over why upstarts like Obama, Huckabee, and Paul are doing so well. They might want to look at the litany of broken promises made by those “with experience” in Washington.When the Democrats took over, some of us called for a ban on earmarks. My view was that anything short of a ban would simply allow members to continue this wasteful practice. People of West Virginia seem happy with Byrd’s raiding of the federal budget as are Alaskans with the overt corrupt practices of Ted Stevens. Transparency, therefore, will not deter such practices.
Byrd was the first senator to rack up a total of $1 billion in earmarks for his home state.That was in 1999. Today he’s past the $3 billion mark.In his famously colorful Senate speeches, Byrd has repeatedly defended his earmarks.”Hear me!! Some members have asserted that all, all, all earmarked funding is wasteful spending or an abuse of power,” Byrd said. “Hogwash!”And though tradition frowns on sitting members of Congress funding projects in their own name, they don’t seem to have a problem with it in Byrd Country. West Virginia is full of ventures paid for with your tax dollars but named after him.You can take the Robert C. Byrd Highway to the Robert C. Byrd Locks and Dam, explore space through the Robert C. Byrd Telescope, and work at the Robert C. Byrd Hilltop Office Complex.In all, we found more than 40 projects bearing the Byrd name. Many of them sound perfectly reasonable, but the problem is other needy communities never get a crack at the money.
It is not just the raw egotism that comes with these projects, though these members routinely name federal buildings after themselves in a self-cult of personality. What they have shown they are incapable of showing self-restraint. Only clear lines and a prohibition will stop these grotesque pork barrel projects. For a prior column on corrupt practices, click hereFor the full story, click here