Sens. Max Baucus (D-Mont.) and Conrad Burns (R-Mont.) are Porkers of the Month for October ’04 | Citizens Against Government Waste

Sens. Max Baucus (D-Mont.) and Conrad Burns (R-Mont.) are Porkers of the Month for October ’04

Press Release

For Immediate ReleaseContact:  Mark Carpenter/Tom Finnigan
October 7, 2004(202) 467-5300

Prefer Drought Relief to Homeland Security

(Washington, D.C.) – Citizens Against Government Waste (CAGW) today named Sens. Max Baucus (D-Mont.) and Conrad Burns (R-Mont.) its October Porkers of the Month for tripping up the fiscal 2005 Homeland Security bill with $3 billion for spending unrelated to terrorism or national defense.  The farm state Senators added a $3 billion drought relief package to the Senate version of the Homeland Security appropriations bill (S. 2437), accounting for nearly 10 percent of the bill’s total cost.  Because there were few differences between the two chambers’ versions, the last-minute insertion of drought relief has unexpectedly prolonged congressional negotiations and delayed essential funding for homeland security. 

Once again, the Senate is causing problems with its unquenchable appetite for higher spending.  This time, however, Sens. Baucus and Burns add a dangerous twist to the Senate’s now-familiar role as budget-buster.  As federal officials warn of a possible terrorist attack before the approaching presidential election, these Porkers postpone funding for the Homeland Security Department when it needs it most – all for the sake of home state patronage.  The drought relief package is aimed at Midwestern and Great Plains states with hotly contested congressional races.          

Having learned nothing from fiscal 2004’s record deficit of $422 billion, Sens. Baucus and Burns offer no way of paying for the drought relief, setting the stage for more borrowing.  Both House conservatives and the White House favor dropping the drought relief from the bill entirely or offsetting it with cuts in other programs.  Sens. Baucus and Burns display no such fiscal awareness and are passing the cost of their parochial pork onto future generations.    

Pointing to the $10 billion of hurricane relief in the homeland security bill, Sens. Baucus and Burns argue that all natural “disasters” deserve equal treatment.  It is disingenuous to compare cyclical droughts to a rare succession of four ravenous hurricanes.  Whereas hurricanes wreak havoc on the general population, drought aid is aimed at recovering losses for specific industries – farmers and ranchers.  Farming is already one of the most subsidized professions in America.  The $180 billion farm bill passed in 2002 was the most generous in history and included money for drought relief programs.  Furthermore, most farm aid goes to large farms and agribusinesses.  Given the capital assets of these entities, they should prepare for and adjust to revenue shortfalls just like any other business, without begging for government handouts every time the weather changes.   

Even more outrageous, the drought “emergency” relief covers losses incurred back in 2003, casting doubt on statements that the problem is as urgent as hurricane recovery.  Drought relief has nothing to do with homeland security and should not get wrapped up in the essential task of defending the homeland from terrorists.  For elevating home state politics above homeland security and ignoring the deficit, Sens. Baucus and Burns are Porkers of the Month for October 2004. 

Citizens Against Government Waste is a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization dedicated to eliminating waste, fraud, mismanagement and abuse in government.

 

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