BRIDGES TO NOWHERE: They’re not dead. They’re baaack!
The Reason piece sums up what has happened to the ‘defunded’ bridges, which aren’t really back, because they never went anywhere:
It got so bad that Sen. Ted Stevens (R-Alaska), chairman of the Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, roared, “If the Senate decides to discriminate against our state . . . I will resign from this body.” Taxpayer advocates could only pray that he would keep his word.
And sure enough, Congress acted. Headlines across the country echoed this one in the New York Times: “Two ‘Bridges to Nowhere’ Tumble Down in Congress.” The Times story began, “Congressional Republicans decided Wednesday to take a legislative wrecking ball to two Alaskan bridge projects that had demolished the party’s reputation for fiscal austerity.”
Good news indeed. Except – Ted Stevens didn’t resign from Congress. Why not? Because it was all a show, just smoke and mirrors. Congress removed the requirement that Alaska use the money for the bridges to nowhere. But the state still got the money – a $454 million blank check.
And sure enough, Gov. Frank Murkowski has included money for both bridges in his new state budget. Murkowski, who used to be a senator himself, works closely with the state’s congressional delegation. Indeed, when he was elected governor, he searched the length and breadth of the great state of Alaska to find a qualified replacement and eventually found her across the breakfast table – his daughter, Lisa, who now works hand in hand with Stevens and Young to keep the funding pipeline flowing.
Well, no kidding. Everyone here knew that, because I told you exactly what was going to happen last month when this took place:
In other words, they defunded mandatory spending on the ‘bridge to nowhere,’ but gave them the damned money anyway.
Fiscal Conservatism circa 2005- Defund preparations for the pandemic flu, and shower Alaska with filthy lucre as a compromise for removing a stupid piece of pork-barreling spending that should not have been there anyway.
Radley Balko was even more explicit:
This is smoke and mirrors. It’s a cheap stunt by the GOP to deflect public criticism that doesn’t really change much of anything. All the conference committee did was remove the earmark for the bridges. Alaska will still be getting the same obscene amount of money from the federal government, it’s just that the state won’t be required to use it to build those two particular bridges. It’ll be up to the executive and the state legislature to decide how to spend it.
Now it’s possible that the legislature, which seems to be at least a hair more reasonable than Alaska’s governor and congressional delegation, will nix the bridge idea. I’m not optimistic. But even if they do, the original half billion dollars earmarked for the bridges won’t go to more worthy projects like rebuilding the Gulf, or, better yet, back to the taxpayers. Instead of going toward Ted Stevens’, Don Young’s, and Lisa Murkowski’s pet projects, it’ll merely be redirected toward the pet projects of Gov. Frank Murkowski and the Alaska state legislature. And don’t forget, Murkowski, who’s wife owns land on Gravina Island, fought long and hard for this bridge, too.
No, I am not going to break my arm patting myself on the back with this self-congratulatory post, because it makes me sick that I know the current Republican party so well I can predict their bullshit weeks in advance.
We’ll file this under ‘Fiscal Conservatism’ and ‘Honesty and Integrity.’ Shameless SOB’s. And don’t tell me they didn’t know EXACTLY what they were doing, because Radley Balko and I did.