When the subject comes up about pork barrel spending and congressional earmarks, one of the favorite references is known as the “Bridge to Nowhere.” The $398 million project in Alaska was to build a bridge to an island that contained an airport and a grand total of 50 residents. Mississippi can now stand with Alaska. At NASA’s Stennis Space Center in Hancock County. we can proudly claim the rocket-testing tower to nowhere.
In a lengthy story last week in the Washington Post, the newspaper report that NASA received funding to complete a $349 million rocket-testing project at Stennis. On the Mississippi Gulf Coast The Sun-Herald ran a shorter story about the project. The only problem is that the 30 story testing tower was immediately mothballed because NASA had already cancelled the program that would use the tower. Of course, Mississippi’s junior U.S. Sen. Roger Wicker defended his efforts to keep funding alive for the project. He had a convenient scapegoat — President Obama, of course. Wicker told the newspaper that Obama “has abandoned America’s manned space program” and “lacks the vision of his predecessors.” Wicker is a member of the Senate’s Commerce, Science & Transportation Committee. During a summer of 2010 committee meeting, after the NASA program had already been cancelled, Wicker offered three amendments. “Wicker Three” as it was called, authorized the completion of construction and activation of the test stand. According to the Washington Post, when questioned recently by a reporter about how he was able to get the funding approved for the useless tower, Wicker laughed and said “Just talented legislating” and then walked away. What a cute answer. It should also be noted that your federal tax dollars will go toward the $700,000 per year that it will cost to maintain the tower.
U.S. Rep. Steven Palazzo (R-4CD), who represents Hancock County where the Stennis Space Center is located, also endorsed funding for the tower. In addition to naming the tower for Sen. Wicker, perhaps we can name a few of the lower levels in honor of Palazzo. Keep in mind that both Wicker and Palazzo are avowed fiscal conservatives.
This type of pork barrel project is the exact reason the tea party was formed and has had major growth and influence. Sometimes the tea party supports bad candidates like Chris McDaniel in this year’s Republican primary against Sen. Thad Cochran. Sometimes some real whack jobs are able to assume leadership positions in various tea party organizations. But give the tea party credit, they have rebelled against pork barrel spending projects and deficit spending that so-called conservative Republicans are to quick to endorse.
And to this point, if you haven’t noticed recently, check the tab on this site that shows the national debt of the United States. It has passed $18 TRILLION dollars. Individually, that translates to a national debt of over $56,370 for every man, woman and child.