Recently, Michele Bachmann has come under fire for urging Congress to approve a $700 million bridge project in her district — which many see as a retreat from her anti-pork Tea Party roots. Her critics are quick to label her a hypocrite, despite the fact that she is trying to eliminate cumbersome environmental regulations that are holding the bridge up, and not seeking to appropriate any more federal funds.
Today in the New York Times, I argue that not all earmarks are created equally:
Ask even the most avowed conservative what the proper role of government is, and road building and maintenance is likely going to be near the top. Having adequate roads promotes business growth and commerce, creates more taxpayers, and, thus, more government revenue.
Americans will rightfully continue to be indignant when Congress spends $1.2 million to study the breeding habits of the woodchuck, or spends $500,000 on the Sparta, N.C., Teapot Museum. But the Stillwater Bridge reconstruction is not one of those indefensible pork-barrel projects; it will help rejuvenate the economies of two states that badly need it.
Arguing against the bridge is former vice president Walter Mondale.
— Christian Schneider is a senior fellow at the Wisconsin Policy Research Institute.