Appauling abuse of Federal Taxpayers

Techniguy - 11-24-2005

The following item was found on Republican Senate Majority Leader, Bill Frist's Website:

FRIST, ALEXANDER ANNOUNCE $6 MILLION FOR MUSIC CITY STAR RAIL PROJECT AS PART OF FINAL TRANSPORTATION FUNDING CONFERENCE REPORT
November 18th, 2005 - WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senators Bill Frist (R-Tenn.) and Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) today announced that the Fiscal Year 2006 Transportation, Treasury, Judiciary, and Housing & Urban Development Appropriations conference report includes $6 million for the Music City Star East Corridor Commuter Rail Project.

While this may look good for residents of Tennessee, it is yet another example of what has become common practice in Congress today; using Federal tax dollars to fund local special interest "PORK" projects at a time when Congress should be making spending cuts it's highest priority. The article goes on to say:

“I worked very hard as the Majority Leader to ensure that the $6 million provided by the Senate earlier this year was included in the final conference report,” Frist said.  “The project’s future could have been in jeopardy without this federal funding, and I am pleased that we were able to help Nashville area residents score an important victory today.  The communities between Nashville and Lebanon are growing rapidly, and providing an alternative means of transportation will both help reduce congestion and benefit the local environment.  The teamwork demonstrated by state and local officials has been instrumental throughout this process, and I greatly appreciate the work of everyone involved at all levels of government.”

The trouble here is that this local special interest project should not have involved "all levels of government". This rail line is not an Interstate Project, it is not a Federal Highway, it does not belong in the Federal Budget at all. This is a local project to benefit the local population and should be financed by local and state governments along with private enterprise. Nowhere does the US Constitution provide for funding of local projects that do not benefit the entire nation. 

Congress has previously appropriated $18.8 million to support the East Corridor Commuter Rail Project, which has been used to upgrade existing Nashville and Eastern Railroad Authority freight tracks, purchase rail cars, and construct passenger stations and parking facilities.  The project is funded jointly by the Federal Transit Administration, the Tennessee Department of Transportation, the Metropolitan Government of Nashville and Davidson County, Wilson County, and the cities of Mt. Juliet and Lebanon.

I must say that it is very thoughtful and generous of Senator Frist to commit 6 million dollars of our tax money to helping Tennessee’s transportation problems without our permission, but we all have transportation and congestion problems in our own states as well. Would Frist be so willing to fight for Federal tax dollars to help with the congestion problems in say, Los Angeles? 

The Regional Transportation Authority (RTA), which manages the project, will now be able to move toward completing the remaining construction work.  When fully operational, the Music City Star East Corridor Commuter Rail will help to ease highway congestion and provide a viable transportation alternative for area residents. The conference report must now be passed by the House and Senate and receive the President’s signature before becoming law.

Does anyone doubt that this measure will become law by being attached to some other piece of necessary legislation? This is exactly what is wrong with Congress today and that applies to both Democrats and Republicans alike. Congressmen and Senators no longer see themselves as responsible custodians of the Taxpayers' money, but rather use their position of responsibility to the taxpayers to spend our money for the purpose of promoting themselves in their home states in hopes of being reelected. It is an epidemic that has gotten way out of hand and drastic measures are needed to put a stop to it. The most drastic, but perhaps the only option, is to change the way Congress works with our money and pass a law that states that no money shall be allocated from the Federal Treasury without a full congressional vote on that specific allocation, and no bill shall be attached to any other unrelated bill. In fact, aside from the last part, that is pretty much what the Constitution says. Isn't it about time Congress started obeying the Constitution and it's provisions regarding the spending of money that does not belong to them? 

It doesn't take a genius to realize that Congress will never pass such a law that would restrict their ability to spend our money on whatever they choose with complete disregard to the spending provisions of the Constitution. A law such as this would never be passed by Congress which has their own personal and special interests at heart, but some way must be found to hold these elected officials accountable for our money and how it's spent. The only way I can think of to get this done would be by class action lawsuit - US Taxpayers vs. The US Congress. Are there any good lawyers out there?

Techniguy

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