'Pig Book' targets government 'pork'
Group cites 'most egregious and blatant examples' of wasteful spending
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WASHINGTON (CNN) -- A watchdog group Wednesday accused Congress of wasting taxpayer dollars to please the people back home, despite the soaring deficit and mounting bills for hurricane damage and the war in Iraq.
Citizens Against Government Waste identified 375 projects -- costing $3.4 billion -- in its "2006 Congressional Pig Book" it says the nation could have done without in fiscal 2006, which ends October 1.
The 53 pages of pork barrel projects "symbolize the most egregious and blatant examples of pork," the report says.
Among the projects the group identified:
According to the group, the highest per capita spending was in Alaska -- $489.87 for each of the state's 663,661 residents, or $325.1 million. That is less than half of the per capita amount in 2005, a decrease CAGW says came about because Republican Sen. Ted Stevens is no longer chairman of the Appropriations Committee.
Alaska is the state where the proposed $223 million "bridge to nowhere" connecting Gravina Island -- population 50 -- to the mainland caused such a nationwide furor that it was rescinded in December.
Among the 2006 Alaska projects is $1.3 million for berry research.
The lowest per capita spending was in Georgia, $12.06 for a population of more than 9 million, or $109.4 million, the group said.
Congress approved a record $29 billion in earmarks for 2006, or 6.2 percent more than last year's $27.3 billion.
CAGW, a private, nonprofit organization with 1.2 million members, says it publishes the annual report in an effort to eliminate waste, inefficiency and mismanagement -- and the crimes they can promote.
"The guilty pleas of lobbyist Jack Abramoff and former Rep. Randy "Duke" Cunningham illustrate how pork-barrel projects, whether used as currency for re-election or as political favors to well-connected individuals or businesses, can corrupt the political process," the report says.
To qualify for the "Pig Book," a project must meet at least one of these standards: requested by only one chamber of Congress; not specifically authorized; not competitively awarded; not requested by the president; greatly exceeds the president's budget request or the previous year's funding; not the subject of congressional hearings; serves only a local or special interest.
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