Saturday, January 01, 2005

H.R. 4818 Part 2

Below is the full text of a letter I submitted today to the editors of my local community papers, The Cincinnati Enquirer, the Washington Post and the Washington Times:


A Suggested New Year’s Resolution for Congressman Portman

As the Baby New Year gets its first diaper change, the 109th Congress is set to go into session. Tax and Social Security reform are expected to be high on the agenda for our elected representatives. The Ohio 2nd District representative, Congressman Rob Portman, will certainly have his work cut-out for him as a returning member of the influential House Budget and Ways and Means Committees.

To lessen the load of the upcoming challenges for my congressman, I offer him a modest proposal that he should adopt as a New Year’s Resolution; simply resolve to read a proposed piece of legislation in its entirety before voting on it.

Some of my neighbors may view this unsolicited advice as unwarranted. They would quickly note that Mr. Portman is an Ivy League graduate from Dartmouth with a law degree from the University of Michigan. And certainly the advice he may at one time offered to a client reviewing a contract is not one that he needs to be reminded of.

But how else can we as constituents explain his support for the two most recent Omnibus Spending Bills; House of Representatives (H.R.) 2673 and 4818? (The text for these spending laws is available from the U.S. Library of Congress web site at and .)

Unlike Mr. Portman, I won’t even imply that I’ve read the full text of these spending measures. However, the parts I have read convinces me that my congressman and his colleagues have got to get a clue. These spending laws are laden with Pork Barrel spending.

Let’s take a quick look at the H.R. 4818, exhibit A, in support of the case I make. This law from the 108th Congress consists of 685 pages, 7,675 paragraphs, 27,869 lines and 297,369 words according to the document statistics available with the Microsoft Word text editing and viewing software tool. At a very brisk reading rate of 350 words per minute, it would take a reader approximately 14 hours to read the whole bill.

While scanning the bill, I found a number of recurring patterns in the spending. $1,000,000 conveniently showed up time and time again. Utilizing some of Word’s editing features; I determined that the number $1,000,000 is referred to as a spending item a total of 117 times. Equally interesting was that fact that a number of other numbers were repeatedly referred to for distinct spending items. Here’s a quick run down of the top ten by how often they are referred:

$1,000,000; 117 times.
$2,000,000; 94 times.
$500,000; 66 times.
$5,000,000; 54 times.
$10,000,000; 53 times.
$100,000; 45 times.
$4,000,000; 37 times.
$3,000,000; 31 times.
$25,000,000; 29 times.
$15,000,000; 29 times.

In and of itself, this is not evidence of Pork Barrel spending, but it is a curiosity that so many of the numbers are ‘nice round numbers’. The evidence of Pork Barrel spending becomes apparent as one starts looking at the actual expenditures. Isolating just some of the $1,000,000 expenditures reveals the following actual text from the bill:

…$1,000,000 shall be available for a grant to the Norwegian American Foundation to fulfill its charter purposes

…There is hereby appropriated $1,000,000, to remain available until expended, for a grant to the Ohio Livestock Expo Center in Springfield, Ohio

…There is hereby appropriated $1,000,000, to remain available until expended, for a grant to the Virginia Horse Center in Lexington, Virginia.

…$1,000,000 shall be available for the `Wild American Shrimp Initiative', and $1,000,000 shall be available for the Gulf Oyster Industry Education Program

…$1,000,000 shall be available for a grant to the Southern and Eastern Kentucky Tourism Development Association

…$1,000,000 shall be awarded to New York Hall of Science to develop, expand, and display science-related materials

…$1,000,000 shall be awarded to Omaha Performing Arts Center in Nebraska for telecommunications systems

…$1,000,000 shall be awarded to State Historical Society of Iowa in Des Moines, Iowa, for the development of exhibits for the World Food Prize

Expenditures like these go on for pages and pages of single-type text! Brian Riedl of The Heritage Foundation summed it up well by noting that, “…runaway spending pushes the cost of government over $20,000 per household and the federal budget deficit past $400 billion, Congress continues to pile an endless supply of special interest projects onto the backs of weary taxpayers. With the recently-passed fiscal 2005 omnibus spending bill (H.R. 4818), Congress is expected [to] break its own record—set in last year’s budget—for pork projects, with new grants for such items as therapeutic horseback riding…” (The full text of the article is available at

Mr. Portman and his colleagues can’t be trusted with the keys to the Omnibus.
The irresponsibility they’ve displayed undermines any future request for increases in taxes. Some, like Senator Lindsey Graham, have already suggested that a component of the proposed private Social Security reforms will involve tax increases. (See on the web for an analysis of Senator Graham’s proposal.)

This tax payer can’t see himself supporting any tax increases until Pork Barrel spending is eliminated. For that matter, we in the 2nd District can do better than a free-spending Republican. Thus, I’ve taken on a New Year’s Resolution as well. Out of civic frustration, I’ve started a local web log that will keep tabs on Congressman Portman (or was that Porkman?) and his colleagues. The site is called Porkopolis ( If you’re like minded, I invite you to visit the site and add your thoughts and commentary as well.

Happy New Year.

Mario Delgado
Maineville, Ohio


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