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Pork Barreling

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Pork barrel legislations is a daily occurrence in American government. Howard Scarrow showcases this in his May 6th column in The Village Times Herald, "Our bacon, their park." His example of the recently proposed highway bill is a blatant exposure of pork barrel legislation. He indicates many causes of this distributive politics that would lead to legislation such as the highway bill. Pork barrel legislation allows for a congressman to appeal to his constituents by adding on seemingly small projects that would benefit his district, to a larger bill. This small portion of the legislation is usually overlooked and passed along with the main part of the bill. In a way distributive politics is a sneaky way for congressmen to "bring home the bacon" for their constituents.

It is quite obvious why congressmen take part in distributive politics. Why does a representative do anything while in office, mainly to get reelected. Especially in the House of Representatives where a term of office is only two years, representatives are working hard to make their constituents happy for the next election. Scarrow proves this point with the highway bill. Tim Bishop added to the bill forty-five million dollars in project money for his district. Five million of those dollars going to the construction of a Greenway Trail stretching form East Setauket to Port Jefferson Station. Tim Bishop was well aware that his park barrel projects were only some of 3200 separate projects added onto the highway bill, This "raid" on the public treasury was going to cost taxpayers upwards of ten billion dollars and made no effort to help with the deficit problem. Why do congressmen allow such spending? Why do they allow the national budget to have a four hundred and seventy-eight billion dollar deficit that will only and to America's seven trillion dollar debt? The answer is simple: they want to be reelected. If Tim Bishop refused to take part in a bill that only increased America's debt his district and his constituents would therefore get nothing; and come reelection time voters would remember that they had received nothing form his time in office. Pork barrel legislation is a way for congressmen to show their voters what great projects they can get funded and use those programs to get reelected.

Distributive politics has flourished in American government because of legislative processes in Congress. Pet projects like those in the highway bill are possible in American government. James Madison said that America did not need to worry about factions because in such a large country there would be so many factions that they would cancel each other out. What Madison did not anticipate was that these factions would work together to further their own agendas. A sort of "I'll vote



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