Lies and Damn Lies / The Bridge to Nowhere revisited – CAGW & PORK IN 2008


The Bridge to Nowhere became famous as an example of wasteful “Pork Barrel” Spending. The first Citizens Group to “blow the whistle” on the project was the Citizens Against Government Waste.

The Group, Citizens Against Government Waste (CAGW) has just released its “report card” for 2008.

The Group identified 11,610 “pork barrel projects” which cost US taxpayers $17.2 Billion Dollars.

The CAGW noted that Candidate Obama proposed 53 “Pork Projects” with a net cost of $97.4 Million dollars. Not to be out done, Senator Biden proposed 70 of his own “Pork Projects” to the tune of $117.9 Million Dollars.

The CAGW also noted that Senator John McCain proposed zero “Pork Projects” – which, obviously cost the Country nothing.

As Governor Palin does not serve in Washington, or in the Alaska Legislature, she does not have the opportunity to intiate “Pork Barrel” spending. Governor Palin “vetoed” or eliminated $500 Million Dollars in “Pork Projects” from Alaska’s $11 Billion Dollar budget.

The CAGW gave the candidates the following scores or grades:                                                    McCain 100% , Obama 10% and Biden 0%.

Revisiting the Bridge to Nowhere – This is what ABC News had to say in September 2007.  

The End of the Bridge to Nowhere

September 21, 2007 1:43 PM

Lindsey Ellerson

–>ABC News’ John Cochran reports: The Bridge to Nowhere is gone.  Not the victim of aging frames, bolts and joints.  No, this bridge has collapsed, even before it was built, after an onslaught of angry editorials, furious anti-pork citizens groups, and caustic jokes on late night TV.

First, that name.   It was not accurate.   If built, the bridge would have gone somewhere.   It would have replaced the ferry that takes residents of Ketchikan, Alaska (population 8,000) to the local airport on Gravina Island.  In 2005, Congress approved $223 million for construction.

In Washington, groups such as Taxpayers for Common Sense and Citizens Against Government Waste, rallied their troops to try to block the money.   They said the island was home to far more deer than people (50). 

The bridge’s main sponsor in the Senate, Alaska Republican Ted Stevens, was outraged by any attempt to prevent his state from getting federal funds.  In 2004, with the help of Stevens, his state got special projects worth $645 million.  That was $984 for every Alaskan.   By contrast, Congress handed out less than $3 to every Texan.  And a Texan was, and still is, the President. 

But the barrage of publicity was too much for his fellow Republicans.  Senator John McCain, R.-Ariz., cited the Bridge to Nowhere as a perfect example of wasteful spending.  Senator Tom Coburn R-Okla., a longtime foe of pork spending, tried to shift the money to rebuild an interstate highway damaged by Hurricane Katrina. 

Senator Stevens grew even more outraged: “I don’t kid people.  If the Senate decides to discriminate against our state…I will resign.”  He did not resign.

An uneasy compromise was reached.  Congress took away the money for the Gravina Island bridge and another Alaskan bridge which was almost as controversial.  Instead, Congress gave the money to the state with the understanding that it was not required to use the funds specifically for bridges.

Friday, the state of Alaska officially sank the Bridge to Nowhere.  Governor Sarah Palin, also a Republican, said “Ketchikan desires a better way to reach the airport.”  “But,” she said, the bridge “is not the answer.”  Palin has told state transportation officials to look for the most “fiscally responsible” alternative.

A spokesman for Senator Stevens was not immediately available for comment.


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