Who You Gonna Call?

This ties in closely with Deacon’s post below. N.Z. Bear is running a pork-identification project–with a powerful assist from Glenn Reynolds–in which bloggers point out federal spending that could be cut to balance out the costs of Katrina reconstruction. It’s a great idea, and it has a nice logo:
I would urge interested readers to contribute their ideas. So far, bloggers contributing to N.Z.’s site have come up with over $15,000,000,000 in expendable federal spending. That is, obviously, not even the tip of the iceberg.
The only thought I would contribute is this: the best place to look for pork is in the proposed reconstruction spending itself. It is precisely in these circumstances–natural disaster, congressmen trying to look compassionate, spending other peoples’ money, everything in a hurry–that government waste is most extreme.
I heard Tom Tancredo on Laura Ingraham’s radio show on Friday, I think. He was one of the few to vote against the initial $50 billion Katrina appropriation. His description of the process was hair-raising. No one made any calculations to come up with the $50 billion number; it was just nice and round. No one has a plan as to how it should be spent. No one has prioritized projects. No one has put any controls on what FEMA does with the money. Congress has just handed FEMA $50 billion and said: “Here, spend this please. And there’s lots more coming.” As a conservative, I find this scary; but what makes it downright weird is that many of the Congressmen and Senators who passed the $50 billion more or less by acclamation, and who will appropriate much more in the months to come, are at the same time denouncing FEMA for rank incompetence. Why would you give $50 billion, with no controls or even suggestions as to how it might be spent, to an agency you think is inept? I can’t imagine.
Anyway, my point is that, porkful as all federal spending may be, there is probably nothing as wasteful as the Katrina appropriations themselves will be. I suspect that elementary oversight and common sense would reduce the projected $200 billion by a third or more. Which would, of course, reduce the amount of pork that would have to be identified elsewhere to keep the Katrina effort spending-neutral.


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