Thursday, September 11, 2008

Bridge to Nowhere Facts

From National Review.

The earmark for the Bridge to Nowhere originally appeared in the now-infamous highway bill of 2005. That bill included $24 billion in pork-barrel earmarks and will end up costing taxpayers a reckless $286.5 billion over six years. It passed on a 91-4 vote in the U.S. Senate on July 29, 2005, with Sen. John McCain standing in opposition along with three other lonely voices for fiscal responsibility. Senators Barack Obama and Joe Biden both voted for the bill and its bridge of ill repute.

The Senate got another chance to stop the bridge on October 20, 2005, when it voted on an amendment offered by Oklahoma Sen. Tom Coburn that would have redirected the funds from the bridge to New Orleans for Hurricane Katrina relief. By then the grassroots outrage against the bridge was beginning to take hold and there was a good amount of pressure on the Senate to adopt the amendment. That pressure came from both the right and the left, with liberal Markos Moulitsas at the DailyKos stoking the flames. “Honestly,” he wrote, “there’s no reason for any Democrat to vote against this amendment.”

But Alaska Sen. Ted Stevens (presently under indictment on corruption charges) played hardball, ominously stating:

I come to warn the Senate, if you want a wounded bull on the floor of the Senate, pass this amendment. I stood here and watched Senator Allen teach the Senate lesson after lesson after something was done to Alabama that he didn’t like. I don’t threaten people; I promise people.

Unfortunately, most senators chose Ted Stevens over the taxpayers. The result was shameful: Coburn’s amendment got only 15 votes. John McCain missed that vote, although Obama and Biden both buckled to Stevens and voted against the amendment. Moulitsas commented afterward that “Those who voted against these amendments have zero credibility on issues of fiscal responsibility. Zero.”

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