Trim the Fat!

Another congressional session, another round of fat in congressional appropriations.

Citizens Against Government Waste, a Washington-based watchdog group released its 2002 congressional "Pig Book" this week. It notes a record $20.1 billion in unreviewed pork projects hidden in 13 spending bills. That's up a whopping 32 percent over last year. And it's money, for example, that could be used to beef up homeland security.

Consider just a few of the plethora of egregious examples: $14 million for the Hollings Marine Laboratory, $5.67 million for wood utilization research ($62 million has been spent on the subject since 1985), and $450,000 to restore Cumberland Island chimneys in Georgia. How about $420,000 to give each student a laptop computer at a Nevada school?

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The problem with so-called pork- barrel spending projects often isn't the projects themselves. It's how they're stuffed into legislation, out of public view and debate. For all its calls for greater openness from the White House, Congress should try a little disclosure of its own. That might help turn off the spending spigot.

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