Politics

Robert Byrd’s death: The end of pork barrel politics?

Chad Brady (admin)
Contributor

Sen. Robert Byrd was many things during his more than 50 years in the Senate: orator, fiddler, lecturer and author of a multi-volume history of the Senate. But it is his role as an appropriator that leaves his name emblazoned across West Virginia — on highways, schools, even the world’s largest radio telescope.

If something was built with federal dollars in the state of West Virginia in the last half century, there is a good chance that Byrd helped get the funding — more than $3.3 billion over his career. And that is only what such watchdogs as the Citizens Against Government Waste can attribute to him. Recent years have seen disclosure requirements for pet projects that were unheard of when Byrd became a senator in 1959.

For the current fiscal year, Byrd had more earmarks worth more money than any other lawmaker: 89 earmarks for more than $250 million.

Getting money for his home state was a legacy of which Byrd was proud. A great defender of the separation of powers, he carried a copy of the Constitution, available at the Senate gift shop for a quarter, in his pocket at all times and would wield it in arguments in which he defended Congress as the rightful holder of the nation’s purse strings. A list of projects named for Byrd is listed on a website associated with a 2005 documentary about him called “The Soul of the Senate,” with which he cooperated.

But with the national debt soaring past $13 trillion and deficits projected for years to come, government spending is near the top of voters’ worries.

Full Story: Robert Byrd’s Death: End of Pork Barrel Politics? – ABC News

  • jeffincos

    “The end of pork barrel politics”? I’m sure Mr. Wolf meant that question to be a conversation starter; a primer for discussion. But pet projects, the invisible vacuum in America’s wallet, will never end.

    There are poor communities that have no wealthy benefactors. No one to build the community center or no one to add the extra wing to the local technical school. That’s when Congress provides the, pardon the expression, “good pork”. Congress can actually do good for America.

    Now where I get all fired up is when some knucklehead gives a $1 million dollar research grant for insight into the cause of plantar fasciitis in exotic entertainers. That example is ridiculous, but you get the point.

    I’m sure Robert Byrd participated in both types of pork giveaways, but for the people of West Virginia he was a hero.