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.

First draft: Paybacks

USA/Things are looking up on Wall Street. What will Washington have to say?

Goldman Sachs, coming off a strong earnings report, may try to pay back its $5 billion government loan early, so it can get out from under mandated salary caps. This move could reduce the cost of the financial bailout but also rekindle public anger about Wall Street greed. Look for a response from the Obama administration today.

Outside of Wall Street, the real economy continues to crumble. Retail sales unexpectedly fell in March as motor vehicle and electronic purchases declined, and prices paid to farmers and manufacturers posted their strongest yearly decline since 1950 as energy prices slipped, according to government figures released early Tuesday.

Obama speaks about the economy at Georgetown University at 11:30.

Congress is out of town this week, but that won’t stop a prominent congressional watchdog from releasing its report on wasteful spending.   Citizens Against Government Waste unveils its annual “pig book” at 10:00.