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Pork Spending Alive and Kicking

POSTED: 02:22 PM ET, 06/13/2008 by Derek Kravitz

A closer look at the self-described "big kahuna" database of congressional earmarks developed by Taxpayers for Common Sense, the focus of Robert O'Harrow's story today, shows how lawmakers are gearing up for another pork-barrel spending binge for their home districts.

Earmark spending in the House's defense authorization bill alone soared 29 percent last month, from $7.7 billion last year to $9.9 billion now, according to data compiled by Taxpayers for Common Sense, a nonpartisan watchdog group in Washington.

The Senate bill, which has not been approved, contains many projects steered to the big defense contractors, including Northrop Grumman, General Dynamics, Boeing, Lockheed Martin and Pratt & Whitney. Among the most expensive:

-- $3.9 billion for the construction of the four-engine, turbofan aircraft C-17A Globemaster III, courtesy Pratt & Whitney and Boeing.

-- A $1.8 billion program to build the massive, amphibious LPD-17 ship for the U.S. Navy, developed by Northrop Grumman.

-- A $523 million program for the F-22A Raptor, a stealth fighter aircraft developed by Pratt & Whitney and Lockheed Martin Corp.

Other notable earmarks projects:

-- $10 million for the National World War II Museum in New Orleans.

-- $22.8 million for physical fitness centers at Shaw Air Force Base in Sumter, S.C., and at the Naval Air Station in Kingsville, Texas. Nearly $30 million for the construction of chapels at Fort Hood and Fort Bragg.

-- Another $10.5 million has been earmarked for the Naval Post Graduate School of Business and Public Policy in Monterey, Calif. Troop training grounds, improved engine shops, advanced weapons programs and medical treatment programs are also tucked into the federal earmarks.

The Associated Press did an analysis of last year's spending earmarks with the help of the Sunlight Foundation and Taxpayers for Common Sense. They found 11,780 earmarks worth $18.3 billion.

(If you're interested, you can download the database of 2008 earmarks here. An Excel spreadsheet of earmarks sorted by congressional members can be found here.)

Also check out O'Harrow's blog, Government Inc.

--Derek Kravitz

By Derek Kravitz |  June 13, 2008; 2:22 PM ET
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