NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

The Process Of Political Pork

April 13, 1999

Politicians of all stripes have long reveled in announcements of government grants and programs to benefit their constituencies. Political observers say Vice President Al Gore has raised the process to a fine art -- handing out $12.8 billion in government funds just since the 1996 election.

Analysts note that he has concentrated his announcements and handouts in California, Texas, Florida and Louisiana -- the first three states because they are so big, Louisiana because it has an early presidential caucus.

Here are some of his announcements:

  • Some $3.6 million for a new San Diego police station and $8.4 million for school earthquake preparedness in the San Fernando Valley.
  • In Texas, $14 million in juvenile justice grants for Houston, $45 million for dislocated apparel workers in El Paso, $80 million for job training in San Antonio and $1.8 billion for school construction bond guarantees statewide.
  • Then $35 million for job training and welfare-to-work grants in Florida and $44 million for a comprehensive school reform program in Louisiana.

Since January 1, Gore has announced $4.7 billion in actual spending and proposed $21.7 billion more in spending.

The proposals include:

  • A "Clinton-Gore Livability Agenda" costing $8.55 billion for parks and reduced traffic congestion.
  • Some $60 million for dredging and deepening New York Harbor, along with $312 million for Everglades restoration in Florida.
  • In California, $3 billion for several programs, including Hispanic education, food stamps and health benefits for immigrants, and technology research.

For every campaign dollar Gore has raised, he has handed out more than $1,400 in taxpayers' money.

Source: Merrill Matthews Jr. (National Center for Policy Analysis), "Road to the Pork House 2000," Investor's Business Daily, April 12, 1999.


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