The WasteWatcher: The Staff Blog of Citizens Against Government Waste

Rep. Young Squeals at Nomination

The WasteWatcher is the staff blog of Citizens Against Government Waste (CAGW) and the Council for Citizens Against Government Waste (CCAGW). For questions, contact blog@cagw.org.


 Porker of the Year 2007 candidate Rep. Don Young (R-Alaska) took offense to his nomination and wrote a spirited yet outlandish response to CAGW President Tom Schatz defending his pork.

     After dismissing the cost of earmarks as an insignificant fraction of the budget and discussing a defense earmark he was particularly proud of, Rep. Young’s letter culminated with the following paragraph:

     “In short, Mr. Schatz, I invite you to travel to Alaska and talk to our military using new technologies that will save their lives; talk to the Alaskans who frequent food kitchens so they can feed their families; or those Alaskans who visit the new Salvation Army Center so they can have a safe, warm place to sleep.  All of these things are possibly because Alaskans requested assistance and I was able to secure some funding to help them.  Visit them after you sit down to a meal with your family, and tuck your children into bed at night, on any given day when you are enjoying being a free citizen because of the United States military, and tell these agencies and the people they serve what a waste of money their earmarks were.”

     The Washington Times compared this ending to a classic scene in the movie Animal House when “the Delta boys are on trial for their fraternity hijinks.  One of them, Otter, takes the floor and in his defense manages to spin the charges against the fraternity into an indictment of American society in general.  In the climax he announces, ‘Well, you can do what you want to us, but we’re not going to sit here and listen to you badmouth the United States of America.’”

     Schatz replied to Rep. Young, explaining in part, “We appreciate the passion you display in defending your pork, but dispute your conclusion.  You said that ‘earmarks save lives.’  In reality, earmarks hollow out national security by taking valuable defense dollars and placing them into programs and projects that are not viewed as essential by military experts at the Pentagon.”

     Schatz went on to quote Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) who said in a National Review Online opinion piece, “Congress should be forced to play by the rules they set for others, particularly when funding the wrong priorities costs American lives.”

     The letter to Rep. Young further made clear that “While earmarks are only a fraction of federal spending, they distort the normal budget process and encourage corrupt behavior.  Former Representatives ‘Duke’ Cunningham and Bob Ney are both incarcerated as a result of their earmarking activities.  It is surprising to us that while you are living under the cloud of a criminal investigation related to past earmarks, you are drawing even more attention to your earmarking efforts.” 

-- Alexa Moutevelis

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