Tales from the Trail

Pigs rolled out to protest government spending as Tax Day approaches

With the April 15 tax day right around the corner, the taxpayer watchdog group Citizens Against Government Waste rolled out a couple of pigs to press their case against $19.6 billion in lawmakers’ pet projects for the 2009 fiscal year, calling them “re-election currency.”

While the pigs Dudley and Minnie snorted around the luxurious National Press Club (better digs than they’re probably used to), the organization rolled out its annual “Pig Book” decrying the projects as pork-barrel government spending that did not get proper or public scrutiny or vetting by Congress.

“Pork has been used by both parties as re-election currency,” said David Williams, vice president of policy at the Citizens Against Government Waste. “There is no moral high ground here when it comes to pork-barrel spending because most of Congress partakes in this process.”

MEAT-LABELS/The group highlighted more than 10,000 projects stuffed in the 2009 annual spending bills and while there were fewer of the so-called earmarks than in fiscal 2008, the money in 2009 was 14 percent higher than the previous year.

Many of the projects were already highlighted earlier this year during the debate over a $410 billion omnibus spending bill, including some $1.8 million to study pig odor and manure management.

Senator Harkin defends earmark to research pig odor

Some might think it would be hard to defend spending $1.8 million on researching how to deal with the odor from pig manure, but Senator Tom Harkin found it pretty easy to do.GERMANY/

Harkin, an Iowa Democrat, succeeded in getting the funds included in the $410 billion omnibus spending bill that is pending in the Senate, drawing protests from some like Senator John McCain that it is wasteful spending of taxpayer dollars.

“I’m sure that David Letterman will probably be talking about it and Jay Leno will be talking about it, we’ve got $1.8 million to study why pigs smell,” Harkin said on the Senate floor after an amendment was introduced aimed at killing the funding.