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Lipstick on a Pig

Earmarks, Pork and Federal Budgets
[an excerpt]

PBS, "Now"

Host David Brancaccio

February 17, 2006

[Note: This material is copyright by the Public Broadcasting System and others. It is reproduced here as a matter of "fair use" for non-commercial, educational purposes only. Any other use may require the prior approval of PBS.]

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Congressman Jim Cooper [JC]: You will soon find out, as a freshman congressman, that if you play your cards right you probably have about $50 million every two years that you can hand out in one way or another for pork barrel projects.

Maria Hinojosa [MH]: $50 million just  because I was elected?

JC: Yes. Individual congressional offices have become very similar to ATM machines, where if you know the code you can get money out of it.

MH: Congressman Jim Cooper, a fiscally conservative Democrat from Tennessee, is one of those voices for earmark reform. Topping his "best of pork" list? An indoor rain forest in Iowa; a $50 million earmark of Republican Senator Charles Grassley.

JC: The Wall Street Journal pointed out it would be cheaper to fly everyone in that town to a real rain forest instead of building a fake one on the prairie.

MH: Senator Grassley will say, "Look, it was going to create jobs. It was going to bring a kind of tourism to Iowa that maybe wouldn't come otherwise."

JC: You can put lipstick on a pig, but it's still pork.

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