Rep. John Peterson (R-Pa.) and Punxsutawney Phil are Co-Porkers of the Month | Citizens Against Government Waste

Rep. John Peterson (R-Pa.) and Punxsutawney Phil are Co-Porkers of the Month

Press Release

For Immediate ReleaseContact:  Tom Finnigan
December 7, 2004(202) 467-5300


Press Conference Defends $100,000 Grant for Weather Museum 

(Washington, D.C.) – Citizens Against Government Waste (CAGW) today named Rep. John Peterson (R-Pa.) and the groundhog Punxsutawney Phil as the December Co-Porkers of the Month for jointly defending a $100,000 federal grant for the Punxsutawney Weather Discovery Center.  After CAGW singled out the project as one of the prime examples of pork in the budget-busting 2005 omnibus bill, the storm of media attention must have woken Phil from his winter slumber, because he traveled all the way from Punxsutawney to defend the project alongside Rep. Peterson and AccuWeather CEO Barry Myers at a press conference today on Capitol Hill.

Rep. Peterson inserted the earmark as an Economic Development Initiative (EDI) grant in the Community Development section of the fiscal 2005 Veterans Affairs/Housing and Urban Development Appropriations Act.  The project was not requested in the President’s budget, was non-competitive, was not the subject of hearings, and appeared only in the House version of the omnibus bill, therefore qualifying as pork under CAGW’s long-standing criteria.  EDI is one of many programs that members of Congress have hijacked to pursue their parochial interests. 

As for Punxsutawney Phil, the last thing Washington needs is another rodent.  He seemed to be happy burrowing holes in the ground; but now he is burrowing holes in taxpayers’ wallets.  On the real Groundhog Day, instead of waking up and seeing his shadow, he will see 10 more years of deficits.  Unfortunately, taxpayers will not be able to hibernate through the coming crisis in entitlement spending, sure to be made worse by Congress’s addiction to pork spending.

Democracy has reached a new low with the spectacle of rodents defending congressional earmarks, but the participation of AccuWeather CEO Barry Myers in this afternoon’s press conference presents another oddity, and some hypocrisy.  Myers claims that the National Weather Service duplicates work done by the private sector – a position taxpayers would appreciate.  But AccuWeather is the nation’s largest private forecasting operation, part of a $1 billion industry.  If Myers thinks the Punxsutawney Weather Center is so great, he could cough up more of his own money for the project, instead of reaching for tax dollars confiscated from other peoples’ paychecks.

Despite Peterson’s, Myers’, and Phil’s best efforts to make the Punxsutawney Weather Center out to be the Greatest Thing Ever, its mission is no different than hundreds of museums throughout the country that manage to succeed without federal funding.  Pork-barrel projects rarely, if ever, uplift economically struggling communities.  There are hundreds of poor communities throughout the U.S. that should not be taxed to turn Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania into the “Weather Capital of the World,” simply because its congressman was able to curry favor with the right committee.  While December 7 will always be “a day that will live in infamy,” this year it also represents the depths to which members of Congress will sink to protect their pork.  For defending questionable priorities in a time of war, record deficits, and debt; circumventing the budget process; and grabbing $100,000 in federal funding for a pet project, CAGW names Rep. John Peterson and Punxsutawney Phil the December Co-Porkers of the Month.

Citizens Against Government Waste is the nation's largest nonpartisan, nonprofit organization dedicated to eliminating waste, fraud, abuse, and mismanagement in government.

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