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.
Citizens Against Government Waste