Follow the Money

This is a partial transcript from "Hannity & Colmes," April 14, 2006, that has been edited for clarity.

RICH LOWRY, GUEST HOST: We continue now our special series called "Follow the Money." Tomorrow, April 15, is, of course, tax day, but before you hand over your hard-earned cash over to the government, we wanted to show you just how your money is being spent.

Every year Citizens Against Government Waste publishes "The Pig Book", a catalogue of the most ridiculous and wasteful projects funded by Congress, in order to reward political allies or to win re-election. For the fiscal year 2006, lawmakers stuffed 9,963 pork barrel projects into 11 bills. That constitutes a 29 percent decreased from last year, but there's still plenty of "bacon" to go around, including $500,000 that was earmarked for research into apple blight in Michigan and New York; and $100,000, which was directed to a boxing club in Nevada that has specifically requested that it not receive federal funds.

Pay special attention to the bottom of your screen during this segment, because we'll be showing you some of the thousands of outrageous pork projects Congress authorized in the past year.

Joining us now is the President of Citizens Against Government Waste, Tom Schatz.

Tom, thanks so much for joining us, and thanks so much for all your work that your group does. It's tedious work, going through these bills with a microscope to actually ferret out these projects.


LOWRY: Tom, the first question has to be what in the heaven's name happened to the Republican Party that this has become their routine way of operating in Washington?

SCHATZ: They found out that it's easy to spend money on what they like to spend money on, and that's why we have seen such an increase in spending. It's not just pork; it's overall throughout the federal budget.

But pork did go up. The amount of money is six percent higher than last year. You did point out the number of projects went down, but they still found plenty of money to go out and spend on pork barrel projects. And number one, once again, was Senator Ted Stevens of Alaska.

LOWRY: So what are some of your greatest hits? We mentioned a couple of them. One of my favorites, there's $1 million in research, I believe, for a water-free urinal project. What are your — some of your favorite examples?

SCHATZ: Well, that's one of them, because that's in the defense bill, of all things. We're at war and one would...

LOWRY: ...I feel safer already and so does Alan!

SCHATZ: Right. One would think flushing toilets would be good enough while we're at war.

There is $13.5 million for the International Fund for Ireland. We gave that the "Unlucky Charm Award." Some of that money will go to the World Toilet Summit, another great use of our money.

LOWRY: A great multilateral event, I'm sure.

SCHATZ: Right. And another favorite is the "Tempest in a Teapot Award": $500,000 for the Sparta Teapot Museum in North Carolina.

ALAN COLMES, CO-HOST: Hey, Tom, it's Alan. You left out, of course, the — let's see, the urinal thing, you mentioned, the — $1 million for that.

The — $29 billion in pork we're spending, right; 6.2 percent more than the $27.3 billion we spent last year. Didn't Republicans say on our watch things are going to be a lot better?

SCHATZ: Well, they are going to be a lot better for the Republicans, especially those on the appropriations committee.

Senator Stevens is No. 1 five years in a row. He's a Republican, of course. And he's no longer chairman of the full committee in the Senate, but he still brought home the most pork per capita, followed by Senator Daniel Inouye of Hawaii, to whom we gave the "Pacific Fleeced Award". More than $480 million in pork for that state.

COLMES: There is one of my favorites, $6.435 million for wood utilization research.

SCHATZ: Right. Well, they've been...

COLMES: I'm not quite sure that what — what that means.

SCHATZ: Well, they've been sapping the taxpayers for that research since 1985, almost $85 million. And one would think they would know what to do with wood by now.

COLMES: Now, so it doesn't matter which party's in power. Democrats were guilty of this when they were in the lead, when they were the majority. But Republicans ran for office saying, "You know, we're going to give you a balanced budgets. We're going to have term limits. We're going to watch your money."

We've got bigger budgets, bigger debt and bigger spending now than ever before.

SCHATZ: I think everyone knows there's only one party in Washington, and it's the bipartisan spending party, and they're doing it at our expense. And while people are doing their taxes this weekend, they really should be aware of what's happening with their money.

COLMES: So what's going to change anything?

SCHATZ: Well, there's earmark reform going through both the House and the Senate. The House hasn't quite gotten its bill up to the committee and to the floor. The Senate had a minor change in its lobby and earmark reform bill.

But we have to make these projects more transparent, allow members to offer amendments on the floor of the House and Senate, attach members' names. Senators McCain and Coburn will go after everything they can get their hands on this year. So it could be pretty interesting in terms of what happens with the appropriations bills this summer.

LOWRY: Tom we're going to have to leave it there. Keep up the good work, though. Eventually, maybe you can embarrass them into doing something about this practice.

SCHATZ: Thanks.

LOWRY: Thanks so much.

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