Taxpayer Watchdog Blasts Congress'?'Pork Odyssey'

By Christine Hall | July 7, 2008 | 8:27 PM EDT

( - U.S. taxpayers treated 300 Alaskans to a $400,000 parking lot and walkway last year. But the taxpayers were also generous to the Iowa Communication Network fiber optic demonstration project, generous to the tune of $4 million.

Last year was a banner year for taxpayer generosity as their elected representatives in Congress approved $18.5 billion for special hometown projects, according to the taxpayer advocate group, Citizens Against Government Waste (CAGW).

Every year, CAGW tracks what it considers Congress's pork barrel spending habits. Wednesday, the group unveiled its 2001 Congressional Pig Book, calling fiscal year 2001, which stretches from October 2000 through September 2001, the "biggest, fattest and most expensive pork barrel year in American history."

"The biggest winners in the pork-barrel derby - Alaska and Hawaii - are the states of Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Ted Stevens and the committee's number two Democrat, Sen. Daniel Inouye," said Thomas A. Schatz, CAGW president. The projects for Stevens' home state cost $766 for every American citizen. Inouye's projects cost $392 per citizen, according to Schatz.

"Sen. Stevens' per capita total is 30 times the national average," said Schatz. "That's either very impressive or extremely gluttonous, depending on one's point of view."

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