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Capps, McCarthy called porkers by anti-waste group

A pair of Central Coast House members — a Republican and a Democrat — have turned up in a longtime anti-government waste group’s annual “Pig Book,” which documents pork-barrel spending by House members.

Rep. Kevin McCarthy, R-Bakersfield, backed $11.5 million in questionable earmarks, according to Citizens Against Government Waste, which has been compiling such lists since 1991.

Rep. Lois Capps, D-Santa Barbara, supported $7.9 million in pork projects, the group said.

They are not alone. CAGW identified 9,129 projects at a cost of $16.5 billion in the 12 appropriation acts for fiscal 2009-10.

Neither Capps nor McCarthy threatened “the undisputed reign of the King of Pork, Sen. Robert Byrd, D-West Virginia,” CAGW wrote.

CAGW also noted that the departure of former Alaska Sen. Ted Stevens, a Republican “porker extraordinaire,” dropped Alaska to 4th place in “pork per capita.”

Although Democrats are often called “tax and spend liberals,” CAGW does not take a partisan stance. It lists expenditures by district, and by congressional member, regardless of party affiliation. But its listing does not rank congressional members by pork spending.

The appearance of McCarthy came in the same week that he sent an e-mail to constituents decrying government spending. McCarthy also has expressed admiration for the anti-spending tea party movement, which dislikes exactly this kind of government waste.

McCarthy, a rising star in the GOP who has no opposition in his bid for re-election this fall, said during a national radio address earlier this year that “Enough is enough. Stop the spending. Stop the waste.”

Neither McCarthy nor Capps responded to requests for comment.

The Capps expenditures singled out by CAGW include facilities and equipment for Marian Medical Center in Santa Maria, law enforcement technology in Oxnard, an interchange on Highway 101 in Ventura County and a seafloor mapping program.

The McCarthy spending on the list were heavy on Navy and Air Force research. They also included money for equipment purchases at Cuesta College, Kern County Community College and CSU Bakersfield. He also earmarked money to widen Highway 119.

The nature of the earmarks — supporting higher education and the environment — raises the question of whether CAGW’s “pork” is just a congressional member’s constituent service. But CAGW has its criteria for making the pork list.

A “pork” project is “a line-item in an appropriations bill that designates tax dollars for a specific purpose in circumvention of established budgetary procedures,” CAGW writes.

For example, a “pork” project is one that is not competitively awarded; not subject to congressional hearings; “greatly exceeds” a project’s previous year’s funding or the president’s request; or serves only a local or special interest.

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