Members of Congress have made a ritual of wringing their hands about the "broken Army" of exhausted GIs rotated in and out of Iraq and their battered equipment.

Americans, however, see something far worse: an ethically broken Congress that continues to gorge itself on billions of dollars of self-serving, often frivolous appropriations to keep the folks back home happy so they'll be grateful at the next election while the nation's real needs are on starvation rations.

Congress vowed to rein in these notorious "earmarks" after Alaska's Sen. Ted Stevens and Rep. Don Young wanted taxpayers to finance the infamous, $200 million-plus "bridge to nowhere"—a span from Ketchikan to Gravina Island, inhabited by 50 people.

But, it's back to the public trough for the gluttonous lawmakers.

According to a new report from the Department of Transportation's inspector general, some $2 billion out of $8 billion in projects is for pet projects of lawmakers. In his report, the inspector general found that 1,615 of the DOT's 7,760 projects bypassed normal review.

Among the projects, according to an analysis by the newspaper USA TODAY, are a California mule and packer museum, a $250,000 bike trail, a North Dakota peace garden, a Montana baseball stadium and a history museum for one of the nation's wealthiest cities, Las Vegas.

While this ladling of tax funds into congressional districts was apace, the national infrastructure—dams, bridges, railroads, schools, sewage disposal, water treatment plants and the like—continued to rust or rot.

A vivid reminder of the state of the infrastructure was the collapse of the Minneapolis bridge, which had been listed as deficient for years. Appeals from critics of earmarks to end the unseemly appetite were ignored. Sen. Tom Coburn, an Oklahoma Republican, proposed ending earmarks until every deficient bridge in the country is repaired. That was rejected by a vote of 82 to 14.

The Bush administration shares in this shame. It has shoveled money into the war in Iraq—billions of it unaccounted for or stolen—with no equal concern for spending on desperate U.S. domestic needs.

The American Society of Civil Engineers has been scrupulous in tracking the national infrastructure's condition and this year estimates repairs would cost $1.6 trillion over five years.

The result of Congress and the White House ignoring that spending need is obvious: far higher costs stretched over a longer period and, inevitably, another Minneapolis-type bridge or dam collapse that could be avoided.

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 Editorial: Funding congressional pet projects leaves infrastructure across country at risk
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 Current record
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