Published in The Hill newspaper, Washington DC, March 22, 2000
CARA A PRIME EXAMPLE OF PORK-BARREL SPENDING
To the Editor:
We want to respond to the articles in your March 8 special section on energy by the co-sponsors of the Conservation and Reinvestment Act (CARA), Rep. Don Young (R-Alaska) and Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-Louisiana).
CARA is a textbook example of pork-barrel spending that has gone way out of control. What started out as a conservation and environmental protection trust fund has ballooned into a $45 billion pile of pork, including everything from road and dock construction in Louisiana (Title 1) to more police officers for Eskimos in Alaska (Title 6)!
The average state benefits $11 per person, per year under CARA. However, Alaska residents will receive a guaranteed subsidy of $272 per person annually under CARA's pork-barrel distribution formula. Louisiana, one of the poorest states in the country by any fiscal measure, receives a $313 million annual windfall.
CARA provides over one billion dollars per year for land acquisition, with most of those funds available for adverse condemnation. That means kicking people off their land against their will, and then paying them what the government says the land is worth.
The federal government should be properly managing the empire it already controls for the recreational benefit of taxpayers before it grabs for more land and more power.
Members of Congress have been swamped with pleadings from soccer moms and others wanting funds from CARA's Title 4, which is the Urban Parks and Recreation Fund.
This is $125 million per year, representing 4 percent of the bill. Congress can accommodate these constituencies without handing over the other $2.9 billion, or 96 percent of the bill, for pork projects and power hungry, land-grabbing bureaucracies.
A Republican Congress approving this bill will place a final nail in the coffin of any pretense to fiscal responsibility.
The budget surplus has already been spent many times over. CARA will also devastate farmers, ranchers, fish and hunt clubs and all private property owners, a core GOP constituency. All in the name of pork.
Eric Schlecht, Director of Congressional Relations
National Taxpayers Union
Charles Cushman, Executive Director
American Land Rights Association