Government pork from economic stimulus
Key Excerpts from Article on Website of Houston Chronicle (One of Houston's leading newspapers)
Posted: September 5th, 2009
A sleepy Montana checkpoint along the Canadian border that sees about three travelers a day will get $15 million under President Barack Obama's economic stimulus plan. A government priority list ranked the project as marginal, but two powerful Democratic senators persuaded the administration to make it happen. Despite Obama's promises that the stimulus plan would be transparent and free of politics, the government is handing out $720 million for border upgrades under a process that is both secretive and susceptible to political influence. It wasn't supposed to be that way. In 2004, Congress ordered Homeland Security to create a list, updated annually, of the most important repairs at checkpoints nationwide. But the Obama administration continued a Bush administration practice of considering other, more subjective factors when deciding which projects get money. The results: A border station in Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano's home state of Arizona is getting $199 million, five times more than any other border station. A checkpoint in Laredo, Texas, which serves more than 55,000 travelers and 4,200 trucks a day, is rated among the government's highest priorities but was passed over for stimulus money. The Westhope, N.D., checkpoint, which serves about 73 people a day and is among the lowest-priority projects, is set to get nearly $15 million for renovations. The Whitetail project, which involves building a border station the size and cost of a Hollywood mansion, benefited from two key allies, Montana Sens. Max Baucus and Jon Tester.
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