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Wednesday, August 10, 2005

Bush, Congress team up to fleece U.S. taxpayers

I'm normally a big supporter of President Bush, but this really steamed me up. Today, the president signed a bloated, $286 billion highway bill. Here's how he justified it to workers at a Caterpillar plant in Montgomery, Ill.:
"I'm here to sign the highway bill because I believe by signing this bill, when it's fully implemented, there's going to be more demand for the machines you make here," Bush said, adding that a piece of Caterpillar equipment is used at his ranch. "Because there's more demand for the machines you make here," he said, "there are going to be more jobs created around places like this facility."
AAAAAAHHHHHHHH!!! Would somebody tell this man -- and Congress -- that enormous public-works projects are not the way to grow the economy? Yes, building more roads means Caterpillar will sell more bulldozers and hire more people. We could also dig a gigantic hole and dump tax money into it, increasing shovel sales and boosting America's critical hole-digging sector. Heaven forbid that the taxpayers should keep their own money. They might spend it on foolish things like HDTVs, caffeine-laced beer, private education or charitable giving. One of the most egregious abuses is in Alaska, where ostensibly Republican Congressman Don Young secured $223 million for a bridge. Must be one hell of a useful bridge, right? Wrong. You see, this "bridge to nowhere" will connect Ketchikan, Alaska (population: 8,004) to Gravina Island (population: 50). There's already a reliable ferry service between the two burgs, running every 15 minutes. Basically the only thing on Gravina Island is an airport, with only 6-7 flights a day. $223 million to build a bridge in a tiny speck of a town that's not even connected to the North American road grid. Thanks, Congress. Thanks, Mr. President. UPDATE: The editors of USA Today had the right idea.


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