misplaced priorities / by Warrior Ant Press Worldwide Anthill Headquarters in Kansas City, Missouri, USA.

It's interesting to hear Sen. Kit Bond, who never met a pork barrel he couldn't fill with whiskey and drink down, talk against the current economic stimulus package. Sen. Bond, who does not plan on seeking another term, has become the latest Republican bully boy,spouting rhetorical half-truths as though they were policy. But, as everyone, including the Dems suggest, the stimulus package ain't perfect. And we cannot spend money willy-nilly forever- no matter how dire the economy. We do need to spend money on true reinvestment and not on the same-ole same-ole. Friends at Prairie Rivers Network let us onto some of the same-ole same-ole.

PRN Action Alert

The Corps of Engineers section of Title IV of S. 336, the Senate Economic Stimulus legislation, includes a terrible precedent by waiving all existing cost-sharing requirements for construction of Army Corps of Engineers Inland Waterways projects. Such a waiver would reverse 23 years of national policy set in the landmark 1986 Water Resources Development Act (WRDA) that the nation’s barge companies are required contribute 50 percent of costs of new construction or major rehabilitation of inland waterway locks, dams or channels. Taxpayers currently pay the entire cost of operations and maintenance of inland waterways. Thus, in 2008 the barge companies already received an enormous 91 percent taxpayer subsidy for all the costs of inland waterways - contributing only $92 million out of total expenditures of $930 million. The Stimulus waiver means all of the costs of operating, maintaining and constructing inland waterways would be borne by U.S. taxpayers as long as the Stimulus funds are applied to waterway construction.

Bill gives inland waterways a 100 percent taxpayer subsidy. No other form of transportation (other than space travel) receives anywhere near such level of taxpayer subsidy. A 1992 CBO study found that “On a percentage basis, the inland waterway system is the most heavily subsidized of the three modes of transportation, although aviation is more heavily subsidized in absolute terms.” The waiver constitutes a narrow earmark for a handful of companies which include a number owned by some of the wealthiest, most profitable corporations in the nation.

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