Excessive government spending rages on. And on. And on.

If you think local government is wasteful — does the $4 million computer software system purchased by the city of Topeka come to mind? — that's chump change compared to how the big guys do it in Washington.

Last Wednesday, the U.S. Senate approved a $106 billion transportation and housing bill that included $2 billion for "earmarked" projects that include a North Dakota peace garden, a Montana baseball stadium and a Las Vegas history museum.

The transportation part of the bill was for $63 billion, of which "earmarks" accounted for about $8 billion, or nearly 14 percent.

What's wrong with this picture?

Try a bridge in Minneapolis.

Or a decaying air traffic control system that snarls air travel from coast to coast.

Not to mention a highway here and a highway there.

Wasteful earmarks continue to raid the federal bank vault while needed repairs on infrastructure throughout the U.S. wait another year. And another. And another.

According to newly released report by the transportation department's inspector general, as published by USA Today:

  • Earmarks reduce funding for states' core transportation programs.
  • Earmarks don't always coincide with the transportation department's research goals.
  • Earmarks fund low-priority projects over high-priority projects.
  • Earmarks fund ineligible projects.
  • Earmarks disrupt the transportation department's ability to fund programs when earmarks exceed authorized funding levels.

Want more?

Consider that peace gardens and history museums continue to force the Federal Aviation Administration to delay updating high-priority air traffic control towers.

Also in peril are bridges across the land.

After the Minneapolis bridge collapse last month, it has become evident that Congress for years has failed to fund repairs on scores of "structurally deficient" bridges, while at the same time lawmakers earmarked money for projects such as the "bridge to nowhere" in Alaska.

The inspector general's report was prepared at the request of Sen. Tom Coburn, R.-Okla., a critic of earmarks.

The report clearly validates Coburn's concerns.

But Coburn is fighting an uphill battle to ax earmarks, or to even stem the bank raids.

Coburn and a handful of other lawmakers routinely propose to strip earmarks from bills, but colleagues want no part of it.

The spending habit is obviously hard to shake.

Last week, Coburn offered an amendment prohibiting spending on earmarks until every structurally deficient bridge was fixed.

Makes a lot of sense to us.

It failed, 82 to 14.

It is obvious wasteful government spending knows no limits, much less an earmark it didn't like.

Date Title
9/28/07 Congress raises limit again as U.S. debt nears $10 trillion
9/28/07 Coburn targets gun-rights measure
9/27/07 Plan would close drug center
9/27/07 Bush at odds with right wing on NCLB
9/27/07 Congress agrees to raise U.S. credit limit
9/27/07 Coburn Lifts Hold on Suicide Prevention Bill
9/27/07 Congress set to add 4 million people to insurance program despite Bush veto threat
9/26/07 Bill on Gun Restrictions Bogged Down
9/26/07 DeMint Bill Gains Support
9/26/07 DeMint Bill Gains Support
9/26/07 Senate Looks to Fix Travel Rule
9/26/07 Senate Is Next Stop After House Passes Stopgap Funding With Little Debate
9/25/07 GOP: Earmark Rules Too Lax
9/25/07 Coburn Blocks Gun Background-Check Bill, Citing Concerns About Privacy, Spending
9/25/07 CNN's Lou Dobbs Tonight on raising the debt limit
9/24/07 Opinion: The new Hillarycare
9/21/07 D.C. Tuition Aid Program Might Get Income Test
9/21/07 Opinion: When Will They Learn? Oh, the things Republicans in Congress let you pay for!
9/20/07 Senate Panel Approves Bill to Require Reports of White House-DOJ Contact
9/20/07 Senate Expected to Vote on Debt Limit Increase Before Columbus Day Recess
9/20/07 Army tests of rival carbines postponed
9/19/07 The Senate's G.O.P. Bomb Throwers
9/18/07 Current record
9/18/07 Income cap of $1 million proposed for D.C. tuition aid
9/17/07 Money for kid’s health in jeopardy
9/17/07 ‘Hotlined’ Bills Spark Concern
9/17/07 Showdown Over Spending
9/15/07 Editorial: United Nations messes
9/14/07 Editorial: Public projects starve while Congress porks out on ‘earmarks’
9/14/07 Editorial: This little piggy
9/13/07 Coburn: Troop withdrawal is not an option
9/13/07 Funding for bridges served with side of pork
9/13/07 Another Coburn amendment dies
9/13/07 $8B in pet projects clogs bills; In wake of bridge tragedy, road 'earmarks' seen as a crack in funding system
9/12/07 Senate Rejects Proposed Amtrak Cuts
9/12/07 Dems writing stopgap spending measure to last into November
9/12/07 Cincinnati Red and Montana Should Fund Minor-League Stadium Before U.S. Pays, Coburn Says
9/12/07 Senate Rejects Attempt to Waive Wage Rules for Work on ‘Deficient’ Bridges
9/11/07 Healthy Medical Reforms
9/11/07 Democrats, GOP Mapping Approps Strategies
9/10/07 Opinion: The Senate's Ethics Sleight of Hand
9/9/07 Column: How the Swiss do health care
9/7/07 Going Coconut over Florida earmark
9/7/07 Coburn says public should get 'disgusted'
9/6/07 Coburn stands by blockage of vet bill
9/5/07 Editorial: Health Care and Taxes
9/4/07 Opinion: Backers of health plan for kids have other motives
9/4/07 Unfinished business awaiting Congress: Pay raise, Defense bills
9/4/07 Debates in Congress expected to heat up
9/4/07 MPO to consider rescinding vote to return 'tainted' money
9/2/07 Column: Dem congressmen worry about re-election if Clinton is nominee