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Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Why is Club for Growth Linking to Sierra Club (And Being Quite Happy About it?); Will Ted Stevens Resign?

Because "the bridge to nowhere" does indeed appear to be on the way to being defunded and the Sierra folks have some important details. Go here for Andy Roth and Club for Growth blog's wise observations therein.

Earlier this week, Tapscott's Copy Desk reported Alaska Gov. Frank Murkowski appeared to be waving a white flag about the bridge pork funding because the feds were still $100 million or so short of what is needed. Murkowski's comments now have the look of a strategic surrender, don't they?

In any case, defunding the bridge project is a victory and it follows the small victory l reported last week in which the conference report on the foreign operations appropriations bill that includes a limit on the number of bureaucrats who can make a foreign junket to the same conference location at the same time.

Small victory here, small victory there and pretty soon you've started a movement.

UPDATE: 10:20 a.m.

Congress Daily, a National Journal publication that is available only to subscribers, is also reporting good news on the defunding:

"Republican leaders have agreed to strip $223 million from the recently enacted transportation reauthorization bill earmarked for a bridge linking Ketchikan, Alaska, with sparsely populated Gravina Island.
"The move comes as Republicans struggle to pass FY06 appropriations bills that are squeezing other homestate projects, as well as a budget-cutting reconciliation bill targeting mandatory spending.
"Dubbed the "Bridge to Nowhere" by critics, the Alaska project has become a target of conservatives, and a provision in the FY06 Transportation-Treasury appropriations bill expected to reach the floor this week would instead give the money directly to the state of Alaska to allocate as it sees fit.
"Alaska lawmakers have defended the project, but public opinion has turned against it. Rep. "Mike Pence, R-Ind., chairman of the conservative House Republican Study Committee, likened his group to heroes of the World War II classic 'Bridge on the River Kwai,' while telling reporters there was a general consensus that 'we should blow this bridge.'"

More to come today.

UPDATE II: Will Ted Stevens Now Resign?

That's the question being asked by Dr. Ron Utt, my colleague at The Heritage Foundation who has forgotten more than I will likely ever know about transportation spending, the follies of urban planning, government privatization and much else.

Stevens did vow to leave the Senate if the bridge project wasn't funded. Must be true because it was reported by The Washington Post.

Of course, his out will probably be that the money stays in the federal budget but is called something else. Only the earmark language goes away. None of the money is re-programmed to assist with Hurricane Katrina recovery projects.


Andrew Grossman of The Heritage Foundation's Policy Blog explains it all here in an excellent post that includes this important message for Members of Congress in both parties, but especially those on the majority side:

"A cynic might speculate that killing the Gravina Island bridge allows Members of Congress to sleep easier at night, comforted that the most potent symbol of their profligacy is no more. Now the American public can move on and leave them to squander taxpayer dollars in obscurity.
"There is no 'Bridge to Nowhere' for unfunded liabilities. No symbol so effectively symbolizes the coming drain of Social Security on general revenues, as President Bush learned this year. And yet the bridge represented all of these things: a government run amok.
"So the bridge was useful, and maybe, for that use, it will be missed - after all, in the grand scheme of things, what's a couple hundred million dollars? But Members of Congress would be wrong to think that the pressure will dissipate with the bridge's demise.
"There is, as yet, no sign of that. Quite the opposite - the death of the Bridge to Nowhere is already buoying the spirits of the online activists who dug its grave."

You got that right, Andrew!