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Partisan Pork

The Club for Growth has taken time out from its anti-Huckabee crusade to publish its painfully titled "2007 Senate RePORK Card." It has some interesting findings, but (probably intentionally) the press release neglects to even mention the major 2007 pork-related development on Capitol Hill. In summarizing votes on anti-pork amendments, the report tells us that "the average Republican score was 59%; the average Democratic score was 12%." Wow, Republicans are a lot better at fighting pork than Democrats, right? Well, it's true that the high-profile anti-pork all-stars (like Tom Coburn and Jim DeMint) tend to be Republicans, and that the minority party in general is going to be more willing to use amendments to strip items out of bills that have passed through committee.

But how does the overall level of pork-barrel spending in 2007 compare to that of previous Republican-controlled Congresses? Citizens Against Government Waste's 2007 Congressional Pig Book identifies 2,658 pork-barrel projects totaling $13.2 billion--not great, but much better than the 2006 figures (9,963 projects, $29 billion). In fact, this year's level of pork-barrel spending is the lowest since 1999. Democrats certainly can't take all the credit for this development (as CAGW puts it, "this lesser barrel of pork can be attributed to the efforts of Senators Tom Coburn (R-Okla.), Jim DeMint (R-S.C.) and Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.), who prevented the enactment of nine appropriations bills in December, 2006, and the subsequent moratorium on earmarks announced and enforced by the House and Senate Appropriations Committee Chairmen David Obey (D-Wis.) and Robert Byrd (D-W.Va.)"), but you'd think if Club for Growth were really interested in spreading accurate information, they'd at least note the big decrease in congressional pork since the 2006 elections.

--Josh Patashnik