'Pig Book' Packed With Pork

Citizens Against Government Waste unveiled its latest edition of the Pig Book on Wednesday.

The annual report examines some of the larger and stranger pork spending plans by Congress.

A nonprofit taxpayer watchdog group, CAGW is dedicated to educating Americans about government waste, fraud, abuse and mismanagement.

The group's president, Thomas A. Schatz, talked about the differences between this year's Pig Book and last year's.

"There is a 32 percent increase in projects," Schatz said. "The actual dollars dropped by about 8.5 percent, which is a little misleading because if you exclude defense, which dropped by about $2 billion, everything else was up by $1 billion."

Schatz said pork projects were unfair.

"They take away from other priorities," he said. "The Department of Transportation, for example, gives grants out for buses, a clear need for most of the country."

Yet, Schatz said, 68 percent of the bus money went to the districts of members of Congress who appropriated the funds.

"It was taken away from the rest of the country for their own needs," he said.

Schatz said his group has used the same criteria since 1991 to examine congressional spending bills, and he says they have identified more than $83 billion in pork barrel spending.

"These are some of the smaller projects, yet significant ones that go around the regular process of spending,"
Schatz explained. "They get added sometimes at the last minute. Most of them are of local interest. Usually they are in districts of states of the appropriations committee members."

According to Schatz, most members of Congress do not realize that the bills they approve may contain pork.

"In fact, a lot of these projects are added after the House considers the bill and after the Senate considers the bill," Schatz said.