Last week I discussed the tendency for policymakers to treat the Pentagon like a giant jobs program. It was prompted by an article from the Associated Press on members of Congress shoving unwanted upgraded Abrams tanks down taxpayers’ throats because retooling tanks sustains jobs back in the district. As it turns out, former Reagan budget director David Stockman touches on the Abrams tank situation in his new book, The Great Deformation.
One of the realizations that helped me to dispense of the neoconish foreign policy views of my youth is that for federal policymakers, the Pentagon is like a giant jobs program. Regardless of need, a military installation or armament factory can generally count on the unwavering support of the member of Congress who represents the district or state where the facility is located.
The Washington Post’s David Fahrenthold has identified another budget zombie. This time it’s an obscure grant program administered by the Federal Aviation Administration that dumps money on tiny airports with scant activity.
Is nothing sacred? In Washington the answer is no. As the last Congress sought to avoid the “fiscal cliff” and raced toward adjournment, the House refused to vote on a pork-ridden bill sold as aid for the victims of Hurricane Sandy. That triggered a splenetic outburst from Rep. Peter King (R-NY), who complained that the GOP stuck a “knife in the back of New Yorkers and New Jerseyites.”
A study [$] published in the winter edition of Political Science Quarterly considers two possible reasons for why the 2009 American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) failed to sprinkle Uncle Sam’s magic dust onto those areas of the country that were being hardest hit by the recession.
After the Republicans took back control of the House following the November 2010 elections, the GOP leadership went with Kentucky Rep. Hal Rogers—a.k.a. “The Prince of Pork”—to chair the powerful House Appropriations Committee. I wrote at the time that “The support for Rogers from House Republican leaders is a slap in the face of voters who demanded change in Washington.”