FacebookTwitterRedditEmail

Senator McCain’s Pork Chops

Yesterday, Friday, the Washington Post published a letter from the President of Citizens Against Government Waste in response to my commentary in last Sunday’s Outlook section.  Tom Schatz, the President of CAGW, focused on defending Senator John McCain against my descriptions and criticisms of his actions on defense bills.  I sent the Post a response to Mr. Schatz, but the Post has decided not to publish it.  Both letters are reproduced below.

Friday, August 27, 2004; Page A20
Washington Post

In the Aug. 22 Outlook piece, “Don’t Mind If I Do,” WINSLOW T. WHEELER leveled much-deserved criticism at Congress for larding the defense budget with self-serving, parochial projects. Citizens Against Government Waste’s annual “Congressional Pig Books” have shown how defense pork has risen 30.6 percent during the past three years, even as our elected leaders purportedly have marshaled all available resources to wage the war on terrorism.

However, Mr. Wheeler missed the mark when he accused Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) of giving a “wink and nod” to record pork in the 2005 defense appropriations bill.

Mr. McCain’s credentials as an anti-pork crusader are unassailable. He is the only senator who consistently takes to the floor to shame members of Congress for their budget-busting, special-interest spending. Mr. McCain’s decision to insert his criticism into the Congressional Record instead of speaking on the Senate floor hardly means that he is “going through the motions” or that his efforts are insincere.

Mr. McCain has repeatedly pushed for budget reform legislation that would reduce opportunities to get pet projects included in the annual spending bills.

Several times, he was rebuffed by Mr. Wheeler’s former boss, Sen. Pete Domenici (R-N.M.), when he sought help to make such remedies a reality. And no wonder. Mr. Wheeler regularly prepared a laundry list of pork requests at the behest of his boss for inclusion in defense appropriations, as he acknowledged in his essay, “Mr. Smith Is Dead,” published by the Center for Defense Information.

TOM SCHATZ
President
Citizens Against Government Waste
Washington

 

My response:
Dear Editor:

In large part, I agree with Tom Schatz, in his 26 Aug. letter regarding my commentary in Outlook, “Don’t Mind If I Do.” Both his organization, Citizens Against Government Waste (CAGW), and Senator John McCain perform a valuable public service by reporting on Congress’ atrocious and corrosive pork system. Mr. Schatz was also right to point out that I was once a busy participant in that system. As I have already confessed and in much more detail in my forthcoming book, “The Wastrels of Defense,” I didn’t just push pork for the Senators who employed me, I did a lot to retard Congress’s porcine apparatus. However, I continue to be very disappointed in Senator McCain. As a U.S. Senator, he is in a position to do more than just report on pork like CAGW, yet for the most part he takes no meaningful action.

Senator McCain’s inaction constitutes an enabling of pork, not a crusade against it. As authorizations and appropriations for pork in Congress’s defense bills achieve new records in parallel with Senator McCain’s speeches, the nation’s defense weakens. Accurate reporting outside Congress helps, but just talk inside keeps the system going. In my book I’ve come up with a “12 Step” program to impede pork on Capitol Hill and to stop the other ways Congress sabotages US security. I would welcome working with Mr. Schatz and Senator McCain to give citizens the Congress they need and deserve in the area of national security.

Sincerely,

WINSLOW T. WHEELER
Visiting Senior Fellow
Center for Defense Information

Winslow Wheeler is a visiting senior fellow at the Center for Defense Information. He contributed an essay on the defense budget to CounterPunch’s new book: Dime’s Worth of Difference. Wheeler’s book, “The Wastrels of Defense: How Congress Sabotages U.S. Security,” will be available from the Naval Institute Press in October.

 

More articles by:

Winslow T. Wheeler is the Director of the Straus Military Reform Project at the Project on Government Oversight.  He spent 31 years working for the Government Accountability Office and both Republican and Democratic Senators on national security issues.

bernie-the-sandernistas-cover-344x550
August 20, 2019
James Bovard
America’s Forgotten Bullshit Bombing of Serbia
Peter Bolton
Biden’s Complicity in Obama’s Toxic Legacy
James Phillips
Calm and Conflict: a Dispatch From Nicaragua
Karl Grossman
Einstein’s Atomic Regrets
Colter Louwerse
Kushner’s Threat to Palestine: An Interview with Norman Finkelstein
Nyla Ali Khan
Jammu and Kashmir: the Legitimacy of Article 370
Dean Baker
The Mythology of the Stock Market
Daniel Warner
Is Hong Kong Important? For Whom?
Frederick B. Mills
Monroeism is the Other Side of Jim Crow, the Side Facing South
Binoy Kampmark
God, Guns and Video Games
John Kendall Hawkins
Toni Morrison: Beloved or Belovéd?
Martin Billheimer
A Clerk’s Guide to the Unspectacular, 1914
Elliot Sperber
On the 10-Year Treasury Bonds 
August 19, 2019
John Davis
The Isle of White: a Tale of the Have-Lots Versus the Have-Nots
John O'Kane
Supreme Nihilism: the El Paso Shooter’s Manifesto
Robert Fisk
If Chinese Tanks Take Hong Kong, Who’ll be Surprised?
Ipek S. Burnett
White Terror: Toni Morrison on the Construct of Racism
Arshad Khan
India’s Mangled Economy
Howard Lisnoff
The Proud Boys Take Over the Streets of Portland, Oregon
Steven Krichbaum
Put an End to the Endless War Inflicted Upon Our National Forests
Cal Winslow
A Brief History of Harlan County, USA
Jim Goodman
Ag Secretary Sonny Perdue is Just Part of a Loathsome Administration
Brian Horejsi
Bears’ Lives Undervalued
Thomas Knapp
Lung Disease Outbreak: First Casualties of the War on Vaping?
Susie Day
Dear Guys Who Got Arrested for Throwing Water on NYPD Cops
Weekend Edition
August 16, 2019
Friday - Sunday
Paul Street
Uncle Sam was Born Lethal
Jennifer Matsui
La Danse Mossad: Robert Maxwell and Jeffrey Epstein
Rob Urie
Neoliberalism and Environmental Calamity
Stuart A. Newman
The Biotech-Industrial Complex Gets Ready to Define What is Human
Nick Alexandrov
Prevention Through Deterrence: The Strategy Shared by the El Paso Shooter and the U.S. Border Patrol
Jeffrey St. Clair
The First Dambuster: a Coyote Tale
Eric Draitser
“Bernie is Trump” (and other Corporate Media Bullsh*t)
Nick Pemberton
Is White Supremacism a Mental Illness?
Jim Kavanagh
Dead Man’s Hand: The Impeachment Gambit
Andrew Levine
Have They No Decency?
David Yearsley
Kind of Blue at 60
Ramzy Baroud
Manifestos of Hate: What White Terrorists Have in Common
Evaggelos Vallianatos
The War on Nature
Martha Rosenberg
Catch and Hang Live Chickens for Slaughter: $11 an Hour Possible!
Yoav Litvin
Israel Fears a Visit by Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib
Neve Gordon
It’s No Wonder the Military likes Violent Video Games, They Can Help Train Civilians to Become Warriors
Susan Miller
That Debacle at the Border is Genocide
Ralph Nader
With the Boeing 737 MAX Grounded, Top Boeing Bosses Must Testify Before Congress Now
Victor Grossman
Warnings, Ancient and Modern
Meena Miriam Yust - Arshad Khan
The Microplastic Threat
FacebookTwitterRedditEmail