I’d been wondering when (and if!) the ‘mainstream media’ would pick this one up. After a couple weeks of carelessly using the “Bridge To Nowhere” to blast Palin (who shifted against it when she realised it was a waste of taxpayer money that could be otherwise sent to Katrina), the truth has finally made it to the people:
Biden, Obama helped keep ‘Bridge to Nowhere’ alive
By Drew Griffin and Kathleen Johnston
CNN Special Investigations Unit
DEWEY BEACH, Delaware (CNN) — Although Democratic vice presidential candidate Joe Biden routinely mocks his Republican counterpart, Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, for her onetime support of the infamous “Bridge to Nowhere,” Biden and his running mate voted to keep the project alive twice.
Both Biden and Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama voted to kill a Senate amendment that would have diverted federal funding for the bridge to repair a Louisiana span badly damaged by Hurricane Katrina, Senate records show.
And both voted for the final transportation bill that included the $223 million earmark for the Alaska project.
An amendment offered by Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Oklahoma, would have stripped the money appropriated to connect the Alaskan coastal city of Ketchikan to its airport on sparsely populated Gravina Island and diverted the money to Louisiana.
But Biden andObama and 80 of their colleagues rejected the measure, an amendment to a massive 2005 transportation bill that funded thousands of projects across the country.
“That is probably the most disturbing element of this and the campaigning on the Bridge to Nowhere,” said Bill Allison of the Sunlight Foundation, a taxpayer watchdog group. “Because, yes, they had a chance to vote specifically against the Bridge to Nowhere in Alaska to redirect the money to people, to bridges and infrastructure damaged by Hurricane Katrina going in to New Orleans, and they chose not to.”
The final version passed the Senate 93-1. Republican presidential candidate John McCain, who has made his opposition to congressional “pork-barrel” spending a cornerstone of his campaign, did not vote on either the Coburn amendment or the final bill.
Palin, whom McCain chose as his running mate in August, has regaled crowds at the Republican convention and on the campaign trail with her declaration of “Thanks, but no thanks” for the bridge. But her conversion came after she became Alaska’s governor in 2006 and after the bridge became a national symbol of congressional waste.
The record shows that she supported the bridge as a gubernatorial candidate, and Democrats have seized on the flip-flop, perhaps no one with as much relish as Biden.
“I got also a bridge I got to sell you here, and guess what, it’s in Alaska, and it goes nowhere,” Biden mocked Palin on the campaign trail last week in Maumee, Ohio. And in Canton, Ohio, he tied it to McCain.
“If you look at it John McCain’s answers for the economy, and we’re in such desperate shape, is the ultimate bridge to nowhere. It’s nowhere,” Biden said. “It takes you nowhere.”
But while the applause line appealed to the Democratic faithful, it could come back to bite the Delaware senator.
This year, Delaware has requested 116 congressional earmarks through Biden, its longtime senator, at a cost to taxpayers of $342 million. In an appearance on CNN’s “American Morning” with anchor John Roberts, Biden said that he had been open about those requests and that they all can be justified.
“Everyone has seen them, and we have no Lawrence Welk Museums and have no bridges to nowhere in Delaware. It’s all straight up,” Biden said.
Among his requests: $1 million for renovation of an opera house in Wilmington, another million for the construction of a children’s museum and thousands of dollars for a water park renovation in Lewes.
“I think opera patrons generally can afford to — you can raise money for an opera house; you can refurbish things a lot of different ways,” Allison said.
“To have federal taxpaying dollars — which is coming from people all over the country; low-income, middle-income people, as well as the wealthy — to go to pay for the renovation of something that is really a luxury for Wilmington … There are far more vital projects that anyone could think of that needs money. You got health care. You got education. You got all other types of things. Instead, we are redirecting money to refurbish an opera house in Wilmington or to build a children’s museum.”
And Biden’s request includes a bridge that even the head of the Rehoboth Beach-Dewey Beach Chamber of Commerce says is not crucial at this juncture.
The Indian River Inlet Bridge is a vital link between two popular beachfront towns: Dewey and Bethany. Without it, the estimated 30,000 summer visitors would have to travel an additional 35 minutes to get to the towns.
“We need a new bridge, and we are fortunate to be at a place where it is finally going to happen,” said Carol Everhart, the chief of the Chamber of Commerce.
The existing bridge has some erosion problems, and if it ever collapsed, Everhart said, it would cause an economic disaster in the community. But it’s safe for now.
“The bridge, as it is, is perfectly safe,” she said.
Still, Biden asked for $13 million to help shore up the existing bridge and begin construction of a new one. And that’s what troubles the Sunlight Foundation’s Allison.
“This bridge is not in any danger of collapse, and essentially what Sen. Biden is doing is saying, ‘My state bridge gets the priority dollar even though it is not a priority project,’ ” Allison said.
He said the Department of Transportation, rather than U.S. senators, should be deciding which bridges get priority funding in the country. That way, the bridges in the U.S. that need immediate repair would be first in line for the dollars needed to do the work.
As he embarked on his presidential bid in 2007, Obama said he would no longer ask for earmark projects. McCain, who has been a longtime critic of the process, does not seek any for his home state of Arizona.
CNN asked Biden’s campaign whether it could ask the senator about his earmark requests and his votes on the Bridge to Nowhere.
In response, a staffer e-mailed, “You’ve interviewed Gov. Palin re: her completely made up position on the Bridge to Nowhere right?”
wow! so that tiny article on CNN gives us a whole lot of insight into the truth!
– Palin wasn’t even Gov of Alaska when the ‘bridge to nowhere’ was begun, and without much knowledge about it (she was a candidate, not the Gov), she was “for it” (which, being just a mayor of an unrelated town, i doubt she ‘voted for it’ as has been the accusation in some areas.).
– Once she became Gov and saw how wasteful the spending was, she tried to stop it.
– the accusation of “Palin kept the money!” is more accurately this: Biden and Obama forced Alaska to keep the money when they TWICE voted to keep the project going, even at the cost of Katrina victims, and against the wishes of the Gov whose state the wasteful project in question was being built! How freaking ignorant, stubborn or plain old RETARDED do you have to be to vote against something when people on the frontlines are telling you “no, dude! we don’t need this!”, and others are saying “hey! they could really use the funds in the area hit by national tragedy Hurricane Katrina!” Wow! i would NOT want these guys on the scene of an auto accident, how could i want them overseeing our country?!
– Biden, who IS in office and SHOULD know what’s going on in the country took $342 MILLION (the alaska money totaled $223 Million) dollars of FEDERAL taxpayer money to fix a bridge in delaware (the smallest state in the country!), to build a ‘children’s museum’ (aren’t regular museums good enough for kids? oh wait … this one will have a Barney Skeleton and interactive Teletubbies exhibits showing them in their natural habitat!), fix an opera house, and renovate a freaking water park! But whew! at least he didn’t build a Lawrence Welk Museum! So yeah, my taxpayer dollars and your taxpayer dollars went to building cute little cultural projects for people in Delaware. (I was angry enough when i lived in washington and had to pay for a freaking football stadium that i never used and never will use).
– Awesome that Obama’s mouth made some movements and boldly proclaimed he will stop asking for earmark projects from now on. McCain hasn’t been seeking any for his home state.
– and last, but certainly not least, the Biden staffer’s email – as it is such an eloquent line, quite consistent with the Obama/Biden ticket’s method of addressing direct questions: “You’ve interviewed Gov. Palin re: her completely made up position on the Bridge to Nowhere right?” (schematic: 1- don’t answer the question, 2- draw derogatory attention to the competition, 3- whip out some completely unfounded libelous accusation, 4- dumb it all down so the ‘grassroots’ supporters will “get it”)
I already was aware of most of what the article said, with the exception of the actual amounts and projects Biden is wasting my taxes on for his own state. I’m impressed with Drew Griffen and Kathleen Johnston’s reporting, and I’m counting the moments before they’re terminated from their positions and this report is burined under some new and amazing ‘shock and awe’ propaganda, in keeping with the ethic of ‘Squat, Dump, and MoveOn’.