HIGHTOWER: Mr. Pork Becomes Mr. Chairman

You don't have to be bent over double with intellect to know that it's a bad idea to put a dog in charge of guarding the meat counter.But here come the Republican leaders of Congress putting that sneaky old hound Ted Stevens in charge of the Senate appropriations committee. With the current chairman set to retire, Senator Stevens of Alaska is set to become top dog on the committee that controls the government's purse strings. Sources close to him say that he is very "excited" about the opportunity that lies ahead.I'll bet. Stevens, you see, never met a piece of pork he didn't snap at. For years, he has chaired an appropriations subcommittee whose theme song is: "Roll Out the Barrel, We'll have a Barrel of Fun." Whenever a spending bill comes before him, his first question is always: "Where's mine?"Republicans -- including Stevens -- may talk a good game of cutting spending and balancing the budget, but at heart this guy is a throwback to the Backroom Bosses of a Bygone Era. Indeed, the group Citizens Against Government Waste gave him a special "Oinker" award last year for having procured more than a quarter of a billion-dollars worth of pork projects that he hauled back to Alaska.These are mostly military and energy department projects that the agencies did not request, that are not needed and that other lawmakers didn't even get to vote to approve -- as subcommittee chair, Sen. Stevens simply waved his wand and (poof!) the money "magically" appeared in the spending bill. While other subcommittee chairs were slightly reducing porkbarrel spending last year, old Ted was larding his part of the appropriations bill with 133 percent more pork than the previous year.Now he's to be in charge of the whole trough?Keep your eye on Republicans like Stevens who talk so loudly about cutting the budget, but always have their hands in your pockets.

Enjoy this piece?

… then let us make a small request. AlterNet’s journalists work tirelessly to counter the traditional corporate media narrative. We’re here seven days a week, 365 days a year. And we’re proud to say that we’ve been bringing you the real, unfiltered news for 20 years—longer than any other progressive news site on the Internet.

It’s through the generosity of our supporters that we’re able to share with you all the underreported news you need to know. Independent journalism is increasingly imperiled; ads alone can’t pay our bills. AlterNet counts on readers like you to support our coverage. Did you enjoy content from David Cay Johnston, Common Dreams, Raw Story and Robert Reich? Opinion from Salon and Jim Hightower? Analysis by The Conversation? Then join the hundreds of readers who have supported AlterNet this year.

Every reader contribution, whatever the amount, makes a tremendous difference. Help ensure AlterNet remains independent long into the future. Support progressive journalism with a one-time contribution to AlterNet, or click here to become a subscriber. Thank you. Click here to donate by check.

alternet logo

Tough Times

Demand honest news. Help support AlterNet and our mission to keep you informed during this crisis.