One person’s pork


The New York Times is reporting on a handful of spending requests by members of Congress that campaigned on less spending and smaller government.

Rep. Michele Bachmann’s support for the $700 million to build a new Stillwater bridge is one of the examples reporter Ron Nixon focused on. He examines the reasoning behind the request and how it isn’t technically an earmark.

On the Minnesota-Wisconsin border, local officials and members of Congress have pushed for a new four-lane bridge over the St. Croix River that was co-sponsored by Representative Sean P. Duffy, a Wisconsin freshman Republican, and Representative Michele Bachmann, the three-term Minnesota Republican who is running for president.

Opponents labeled the bridge an earmark, but Mr. Duffy and Mrs. Bachmann said the bridge was critical to handle increased traffic that an 80-year-old bridge nearby can no longer handle alone. They defend the spending by arguing that it was not an earmark since there were no specific costs listed in the bill itself, nor is it a financing bill. The legislation calls only for a bridge to be built.

Nixon doesn’t mention the broad support among regional Democrats and Republicans for a new bridge.

Do you view the Stillwater bridge request as an example of government pork?

  • If the old Stillwater bridge wasn’t in such dire straits, then, yes, this would be pork.

    Since its badly needed infrastructure, its not pork.

  • Rich

    Perception is always the thing here.

    Does Stillwater need a freeway type bridge, when there is one (I94) a few miles north of there? Do the locals want and need one that is as large as the one being advocated by BOTH Governor Dayton and Ms. Bachmann?

    BTW I understand there is a proposal for a smaller bridge being floated. Which would serve the needs of the community and which would cost half the price of the larger bridge.

    It would be interesting to see which contractors are lobbying to manage this project and who’s campaigns they are contributors to.

  • jon

    I wonder if the 35W bridge is also considered pork.

    I’m glad during the great depression we did things like build the hoover damn, and run power to rural areas, possibly build that old bridge, cause I doubt we could convince people to do anything like that now a days…

  • bsimon

    Why build it with federal dollars? The bridge connects two state highways (MN-36 & WI 64), no federal roads/highways are involved (unlike the 35W or I94 bridges). I would expect a small government conservative to view this as a problem to be solved by the states and/or local communities, rather than have the feds get involved.

  • Erica

    While I don’t necessarily consider it ‘pork’, I do question whether a smaller, less expensive bridge would serve sufficiently and be more cost effective. I don’t travel the bridge, and have not researched it at all, so I don’t know, but it definitely strikes me as a good question to consider.

    Good point re: federal dollars vs state dollars, bsimon.

  • BJ

    If pork is defined as directing government to do special project? If so then yes. I call it pork.

    But isn’t that what we send our rep’s to congress to do? I don’t have a problem with pork. I do have a problem with government spending money in an unwise way. Is this money well spent?

  • John P.

    “Pork” is just a way to disparage a project you do not like.

    Both useful and wasteful projects get funded by earmarks. That process has never smelled right to me, but that does not automatically taint the projects funded by it.

  • I saw a Stong Towns presentation the other day. They had side by side comparisons of this project to the I35W bridge. The I35W bridge was WAY cheaper, (like by half) and use was several times more than the St. Croix proposal.

    This project subsidizes those people that choose to live far away from where they work.


  • Bob Collins

    //This project subsidizes those people that choose to live far away from where they work.

    Kind of like what people who live far away from work do for people in the cities who don’t via light rail and a bus system.

  • Of course we ALL get subsidized in some way or another in our transportation.

    One of the questions is how much do we (the public) pay per commute? Then how about the commuter?

    Another question we need to decide as a community is whether we want to encourage people to live and drive so far from their workplace.