Politics

Winners and Losers in the Proposed Massive Spending Bill

Bringing home the bacon is a Washington tradition, and as the $410 billion spending bill indicates, this year is no different. The Senate is battling over the massive Omnibus for the 2009 fiscal year, which passed the House last Wednesday but was blocked the next day by Senate members on both sides of the aisle who said it contained too much wasteful government spending.

Republicans and Democrats say it is likely to pass this week. And if it does, with its almost 9,000 earmarks, some states are set to become clear winners, while others states are poised to lose big.

Using data from the citizen watchdog group Taxpayers for Common Sense, Fox News crunched the numbers to determine the biggest winners and losers among the states.

On the House side, second-term Rep. Mazie Hirono, (D-Hawaii) secured the most earmark projects in the proposed spending bill, totaling $138 million. The top Republican is former presidential contender and self-proclaimed fiscal conservative Ron Paul, (R-Texas), who could stand to get $73.7 million in earmarks.

On the Senate side, no one comes close to Thad Cochran, (R-Miss.) with 204 earmarks -- that he either sponsored or co-sponsored -- totaling $470 million.

Cochran is followed by five-term Democratic senator Tom Harkin of Iowa, at $292 million.

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Topping the list of solo earmarkers -- the individual who could get the highest amount of projects in dollar value -- is the man long known as the "king of pork," non other than 91-year-old Democratic Sen. Robert Byrd, who could take back $155 million to West Virginia.
California pulled down 15 percent of all earmark dollars with $1.2 billion, followed by New York, Florida, Washington D.C., Texas and Illinois.

The biggest loser could be Wyoming, which secured just 33 earmarks worth $17 million, followed by Maine, Nebraska, Delaware and New Hampshire.

But gross numbers tell only half the story.

Per capita, California and Wyoming actually received approximately the same amount of money -- $30 per person.

Washington D.C.'s citizen could fair the best, with almost $1,000 allotted per person, much of it going to build a new headquarters for Homeland Security and $747,000 to remove driftwood from the Potomac River.

Georgia stands to get the least per capita: $10 per resident.
Congress may also be handing out $500,000 to The National Council of La Raza, a Latino rights group.

Defenders of the current system say earmarks aren't the problem, since they represent only 1 percent of total spending. But critics say earmarks are a foothold of future long-term, systemic waste, and a symbol of lawmakers' inability to spend taxpayer money with the same care as taxpayers do.