Thursday, February 16, 2006

Weekly Updates: Egregious Earmarks & Taxpayer Rip-Offs...

Rep. Jeff Flake is keeping us updated on the "Egregious Earmark of the Week" at Human Events.
Click here to check them out.

The latest offering: $597,000 for Montana Sheep Institute, Posted Feb 16, 2006
Tucked away in the Agriculture appropriations bill (H.R. 2744) for fiscal year 2006 is what might literally be called a wolf in sheep's clothing.

This week's egregious earmark brought to you courtesy of Rep. Jeff Flake (R.-Ariz.) comes to the amount of $597,000 and is for the Montana Sheep Institute located in Bozeman, Montana.

"This earmark is baaaaa-ad," said Flake.

The bill was passed by the House 318-63 on October 25, and passed by the Senate 81-18 on November 3. It was signed into law by President Bush on November 10.

Mr. Flake represents the 6th District of Arizona in the U.S. House of Representatives. He serves on the Committee on the Judiciary, the Committee on International Relations and the Committee on Resources.

Stephen Laffey is keeping us updated on the "Taxpayer Rip-Off of the Week".
Click here to check them out.

The latest offering: $1,850,000 for Wine-Making at Cornell, Posted Feb 13, 2006
This week's taxpayer rip-off of the week is an agricultural dream and a taxpayer’s nightmare. Last year, the U.S. Department of Agriculture doled out $526 million in agricultural pork, a 44% increase from the previous year's $365 million. Especially flagrant was a Cornell University grant of $1,850,000 for a viticulture (the cultivation of grapes for the purpose of making wine) consortium to serve California, New York, and Pennsylvania.

The grant is particularly outrageous considering that the wine industry is not exactly suffering. Wine sales in the United States grew 5% to a record 627 million gallons in 2003, a retail value of $21.6 billion and a 2.3% increase from the previous year's sales. California alone, one of the beneficiaries of the grant, produced 417 million gallons. According to the Wine Institute, a public policy advocacy association of California wineries, "there has been a steady long-term growth curve for California wine sales . . . The wine market is poised for growth."

As difficult as it is to believe, the Washington insiders have really outdone themselves this time. The federal government is acting like an ATM machine, dispensing cash at every Congressional whim and wish. The bottom line is that our leaders in Washington are acting irresponsibly, and the taxpayers of America deserve better than that.

Mr. Laffey is mayor of Cranston, R.I., and Republican candidate for the U.S. Senate.

Previous related Gazette posts here, here and here.

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