McCain's Top Surrogate Is Senate's No. 1 Porker

Pork Projects Make a Comeback

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New data on congressional pork-barrel spending reveals that Sen. Joe Lieberman, a top surrogate to Sen. John McCain, has requested the most pork in the defense authorization bill.

Lieberman leads the way with 14 earmarks that cost $292 million, according to a report in the Washington Post that cites data from Taxpayers for Common Sense.

The contrast between the anti-earmark crusader McCain and the pork-loving Lieberman couldn't be more stark. If elected president, McCain has promised to veto legislation that includes pork-barrel spending. Earmarks have a corrupting influence on Congress, and McCain sees eliminating them as a key component to cleaning up Washington.

The next two weeks are likely to feature several debates on pork-barrel spending with Republican Study Committee Chairman Jeb Hensarling (R-Tex.) wanting the House GOP to hold a conference-wide vote that bans earmarks.

But as the new information shows, lawmakers aren't anywhere close to giving up their beloved pork despite promises to do just that:

Lawmakers had promised to cut back on earmarks and mandated better disclosure of them after steady criticism that they were funding programs with little debate or oversight. The promises led to an initial decline in earmarks last year that was trumpeted on Capitol Hill. But the new data show that they are surging again, at least in the proposed Pentagon authorization budget, which sets out priorities to be funded in a later appropriations bill.

Lieberman's spot at the top of the list is particularly troubling. As the Democrat race drew to a close in recent weeks, Lieberman has taken on a larger role in McCain's campaign. Lieberman can often be spotted on TV defending McCain against attacks from Sen. Barack Obama.

By many accounts, this strategy has worked well. So well, in fact, that the McCain campaign now boasts that Connecticut is up for grabs in November.

But as the race intensifies this summer, we shouldn't forget Lieberman's liberal, big government record. With a lifetime rating of 16% from the American Conservative Union, Lieberman ranks among the most liberal senators. His track record on pork-barrel spending is a glaring example of his faults.

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