Thursday, November 17, 2005

Two 'Bridges to Nowhere'

NYT reported Congressional Republicans decided Wednesday to take a legislative wrecking ball to two Alaskan bridge projects that had demolished the party's reputation for fiscal austerity.

It is good that they removed the earmarks for these two projects. But Alaska will still get the money, to spend any way they want. They should remove all of the earmarks for the other projects, and return the funds to the treasury.
Straining to show new dedication to lower spending, House and Senate negotiators took the rare step of eliminating a requirement that $442 million be spent to build the two bridges, spans that became cemented in the national consciousness as "bridges to nowhere" because of the remote territory and small populations involved. The change will not save the federal government any money. Instead, the $442 million will be turned over to the state with no strings attached, allowing lawmakers and the governor there to parcel it out for transportation projects as they see fit, including the bridges should they so choose. Lawmakers said widespread news coverage had turned the bridges, near Ketchikan and Anchorage, into symbols of Congressional excess. Some members of Congress said they got more questions at town meetings about the bridges than about the new Medicare drug program. A Republican pollster warned that the projects were a political albatross.
They still have the albatross around their necks; just the albatross dead.

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