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The spendthrift heading the appropriations committee
December 8, 2010 - Mike Maneval
On Wednesday the new majority-elect of the U.S. House of Representatives selected the member who will chair the appropriations committee. The appropriations committee oversees federal spending, a pivotal post for a majority that claimed dedication to reducing federal expenditures. And who will serve as architect of federal spending strategies in the coming two years?
U.S. Rep. Hal Rogers of Kentucky, who according to the Wall Street Journal spent more in "earmark" spending last year than all but three of his fellow House and Senate members, securing $246.4 million in tax dollars. Rogers himself said back in 2006 when his party last had a majority that "pork is the bad word for making good things happen."
Good for who, though? Rogers' largesse doesn't always benefit the people of his eastern Kentucky House district. In one prominent case Citizens Against Government Waste and Reason magazine reported several weeks ago, Rogers fought for $5 million for preservation of wild cat populations in Africa. One of the few organizations that qualifies for the funding just so happens to employ his daughter. At the time, Cheetah Conservation Fund grants administrator Allison Rogers responded by saying "Dad is, I think, very involved in the environment, both in his district and on a global level." Yet in 2009, The League of Conservation Voters said Rogers voted with their interests 21 percent of the time. For 2007-08, the League placed it even lower - at 6 percent.
With Rogers as chairman of the appropriations committee, no one wins. The conservatives and deficit-hawks are saddled with a spendthrift in charge of spending, but Americans who actually feel government initiative can improve facets of life get will get to see money that, among other purposes, could hire auditors for financial oversight or an expansion of border patrolling go to lining well-connected pockets instead.
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