January 24, 2006

porkbustersnewsm.jpgPORKBUSTERS UPDATE: The Wall Street Journal (free link) reports:

When President Bush reveals his budget request in two weeks, he likely will repeat a boast from recent speeches: "We've now cut the rate of growth in nonsecurity discretionary spending each year since I've been in office."

But such spending -- for everything from air-traffic control to education and prisons -- amounts to one-sixth of a $2.5 trillion budget. And it is the only piece that isn't ballooning.

What are mounting are the political untouchables: defense and the so-called mandatory entitlement programs of Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security. The bottom line? Total spending this year and for fiscal 2007, which starts Oct. 1, is heading in the same direction it has since the start of the Bush administration: up.

Conservatives are fuming because this is occurring when Republicans control both the White House and Congress. "The White House always says it's [due to] defense and homeland security...but even without defense and homeland security it's record spending," says Brian Riedl, budget analyst at the conservative Heritage Foundation. "The brakes are off everywhere."

Meanwhile, Howard Kurtz offers part of the explanation:

I've always wondered why busy lawmakers make so much time for lobbyists, at least when they're not playing golf or being comped at Signatures, and gradually I realized: They envision themselves, a few years down the road, in the same role. After all, half the former members of Congress--half!--are now earning many times their Hill salaries by trying to persuade their ex-colleagues to fund a Bridge to Nowhere or some equivalent measure.

That's only part of the problem, but it's a significant part.