Top-spender Gore unlikely as choice for Czar of Waste

ROGER SIMON

March 07, 1993|By ROGER SIMON

Bill Clinton could have done worse things than naming A Gore as America's new Waste Czar.

He could have named Charles Manson as attorney general, for instance.

Why is Gore such a bizarre choice to root out and eliminate unnecessary government spending?

The 1991 Congressional Pig Book Summary, published by the Council for Citizens Against Government Waste, offers a clue. In it are the worst examples of pork barrel spending by Congress. And on Page 4 we find:

"Five hundred thousand dollars for planning a park and museum at the Cordell Hull National Historic Site in Tennessee, at the behest of Sen. Albert Gore, Jr. (D-TN), at the birthplace of FDR's secretary of state. The Park Service has never funded any home for any secretary of state, only presidents."

Why Cordell Hull? Well, when USA Today Asked Gore to list his heroes not long ago, he listed his father, Cordell Hull, Thomas Jefferson and Joe DiMaggio.

But why worry about a lousy half-million bucks?

Were it only that little. In fact, Al Gore was not only one of the biggest spenders in Congress, he was one of the biggest spenders in the modern history of the Senate.

The National Taxpayers Union is dedicated to keeping an eye on government waste and gives a yearly rating to each member of Congress.

Gore was awarded the union's "big spender" designation in 11 out of 13 annual ratings and "is the only member ever designated the Senate's biggest spender two years in a row."

The Council For Citizens Against Government Waste also rates the members of Congress.

"The higher the rating, the better a senator or representative did in fighting waste. Members whose scores are zero to 19.99 are considered 'hostile' to taxpayers," the council says.

Al Gore's rating in 1992?

Zero.

But maybe it was a bad year for him. So let's take a look at his Lifetime Rating.

It's 11.11.

And what did Al Gore vote for to earn a rating so "hostile" to taxpayers? Everything. Including those things Bill Clinton campaigned against.

During his presidential campaign, Clinton used the honey bee subsidy as an example of the government waste he would end if elected.

The government gives beekeepers about $18.6 million a year to make sure there are enough bees around to pollinate crops.

But the Government Accounting Office has recommended the subsidy be abolished as unnecessary and it was one of the few specific examples that Clinton cited in his campaign.

In 1991, Al Gore voted for the honey bee subsidy.

There have been deeper differences between Gore and Clinton over waste, however.

Currently, a president must either sign the entire 1,000-plus page federal budget or veto the entire budget.

But Bill Clinton wants a "line-item" veto that would let him go through the budget line by line and veto the pork.

As governor of Arkansas Clinton had a line-item veto and called it "one of the most powerful weapons we could use in our fight against out-of-control deficit spending."

Al Gore voted against the line-item veto six times.

As James D. Davidson, chairman of the National Taxpayers Union, concluded in July, 1992: "A close reading of Mr. Gore's legislative proposals confirms that he has little interest in restraining spending or balancing the budget."

So I called Davidson last week and asked him what he thought of Gore's appointment as Waste Czar.

"I hope he has reformed," Davidson said. "Perhaps it is in the long tradition of putting the reformed alcoholic in charge of temperance."

But why Gore? Why a person with such terrible credentials?

"A vice president has to be in charge of something," Davidson said. "Our last one was in charge of outer space."

Exactly.

Clinton had to find something for Gore to do. Hillary already has the good jobs. So what was left for Al?

Getting rid of waste. Yeah, that'll keep him busy.

And will Gore reform? Can a leopard change his spots?

Let us hope so.

Or else get ready for the most magnificent Joe DiMaggio Museum you have ever seen.

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