Tuesday, September 20, 2005

A Challenge to My U.S. Representative

The text of the following message is exactly as I sent it to my U.S. Representative. I was inspired to write this by N.Z. Bear's porkbusting project. (I've since updated this post, and my message to Rep. McCaul, to get my arithmetic right. I guess I was stunned by the size of the "pork" bill.)

The Honorable Michael T. McCaul
Representative for the 10th District of Texas
United States Congress

Dear Mr. McCaul:

President Bush said in his nationally televised speech last Thursday night that the federal government will pick up most of the cost of rebuilding in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. Then, speaking at the White House on Friday afternoon, President Bush said that although rebuilding the Gulf Coast would be expensive, he was "confident we can handle it and our other priorities." He said the government will "have to cut unnecessary spending" and should not raise taxes.

That leads me to three observations and a request. First, if the federal government is going to pick up the tab for Katrina (presumably the uninsured damage), that's likely to set a bad precedent for the owners of homes and businesses in other high-risk areas, who will be tempted to skimp on insurance and let the rest of the nation insure them, through taxation. Second, if the federal budget includes $200 billion in unnecessary spending (a mighty low estimate, in my opinion), that $200 billion shouldn't be in the budget in the first place. Third, neverthless, if the federal government is to provide something like $200 billion in aid to the victims of Hurricane Katrina, without raising taxes, members of Congress from all states must be willing to give up some of the "pork" that's scheduled for their districts.

Here, then, is my request. Please identify -- and volunteer for elimination from the FY2006 federal budget -- enough "pork" from the 10th Congressional District of Texas to eliminate our district's "fair share" of unnecessary spending. If you can't find all of it in "pork," find it in the federal government's non-defense operations. If each district were to offer up $500 million in "pork" and other cuts, that would amount to $200 billion, plus some spare change. The pork shouldn't be too hard to find. I went to the website for Citizens Against Government Waste (http://www.cagw.org/site/), scrolled to "Reports" in the navigation bar, clicked on "Pig Book," then clicked on "2005," and came to a page where I selected "Texas" and "all appropriations," and entered "Austin" as my keyword. That produced a list of projects (for Austin alone) which garnered $13.252 million of federal funding in FY2005. The "pork" bill for the entire 10th District for FY2006 must be much larger than that. Surely the residents of the 10th District -- most of whom are like me and do not benefit from "pork" -- should be willing to surrender their "pork" and any other unnecessary government spending for the sake of hurricane victims.

Be a leader. Be a fiscally responsible Republican. Show your colleagues in Congress that your constituents are willing to cough up their "pork" -- and more besides -- to set an example for the rest of the country to follow.