When it comes to bringing home the pork, Rep. Robert Roe, D-N.J., and his co-conspirators on the House Public Works Committee know how to get more than their share of the bacon. He and his colleagues recently put together a $33 billion transportation bill so laden down with goodies for their own districts that it collapsed under its own weight. Their "oinks" of delight quickly turned to squeals of anguish.
It was the most piggish sight Washington had seen in quite some time. The panel's four top-ranking leaders divvied up $2.2 billion among their districts. One, Rep. Bud Shuster, won $287 million in projects for his rural central Pennsylvania district -- more than was earmarked for the entire state of Alabama! All told, Mr. Roe doled out 508 pieces of pork, at a cost to taxpayers of $11 billion.
Not even the usually profligate House could stomach this excess. The bill, along with a five-cent gas-tax increase to pay for the projects (House Speaker Thomas Foley's vaunted "nickel for America"), was unceremoniously pulled from the House agenda. Here's hoping it never re-emerges.