20 April 2006

National Priorities

It's that time of the year again - the military needs more money if they are going to keep fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan. This time, the pricetag is in the vicinity of 100 billion dollars.

$100,000,000,000 is a lot higher than any of the previous emergency bills, in large part because the administration had been doing its best to hide the true costs of the war by putting off equipment repairs. The war has gone on for long enough now that further delay has become impossible, according to the Washington Post article linked above:
[Army Chief of Staff GEN] Schoomaker said as much at a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing in February, when he remarked that a "bow wave" of costs "pushed forward from previous years" is now cresting.

Pushing back the costs was dishonest, but that's nothing we haven't come to expect from this administration, and that's not actually my biggest complaint about the size of my bill. What pisses me off is the pork.

That's right, the congress has decided to use the military emergency spending bill to fund projects in their district that are completely unrelated to the war. In what is probably the most glaring example, Mississippi's two Republican senators added a $700 million earmark to the bill. The earmark will fund relocating a rail line that was just rebuilt after Katrina (for $250 million) away from the coast, making the casino developers happy:
The real impetus appears to be economic. For more than half a dozen years, Mississippi officials, development planners and tourism authorities have dreamed of the complex restructuring of Mississippi's coastal transportation system that Lott and Cochran now want to set in motion. Under the plan, the CSX line -- which runs a few blocks off the coast line -- would be scrapped. CSX would move its freight traffic to existing tracks to the north owned by rival Norfolk Southern.

Then U.S. 90, a wide federal highway that hugs Mississippi's beaches, would be rebuilt along the CSX rail bed. The route of the federal thoroughfare would be turned into a smaller, manicured "beach boulevard" through cities such as Biloxi, where visitors could "spend more time strolling among the casinos and taking in the views," as the Governor's Commission on Recovery, Rebuilding and Renewal put it.
What a sense of priority. Getting an unsightly rail line away from the tourists is very important. Actually giving the people in the military enough of a pay raise to match the inflation rate this year: not so important.
Post a Comment