John McCain may not be the candidate to light up conservative hearts, but he has been a consistent foe of pork barrel spending. Given the disillusionment many conservatives feel over runaway spending under President Bush, and the imbroglio over the Coconut Interchange in Florida (among other continuing pork outrages), McCain deserves credit for his record of opposing waste.
But as Ed Morrissey of Hot Air points out, McCain has been off-base in attributing the Minneapolis bridge collapse to pork: (quote via Memeorandum)
Republican John McCain said Wednesday that the bridge collapse in Minnesota that killed 13 people last year would not have happened if Congress had not wasted so much money on pork-barrel spending.
Federal investigators cite undersize steel plates as the "critical factor" in the collapse of the bridge. Heavy loads of construction materials on the bridge also contributed to the disaster that injured 145 people on Aug. 1, according to preliminary findings by the National Transportation Safety Board.
"The bridge in Minneapolis didn't collapse because there wasn't enough money," McCain told reporters while campaigning in Pennsylvania. "The bridge in Minneapolis collapsed because so much money was spent on wasteful, unnecessary pork-barrel projects." ...
"I think there is a long, long list of earmarks which went to unnecessary and unwanted projects that I think should have gone to the bridge in Minnesota," McCain said. "I don't know whether it would have gone or not, but if you're spending $223 million on a bridge in Alaska to an island with 50 people on it ..."
Ed points out:
Even without the pork, Minnesota got a 46% increase in transportation funds from that bill. That amounted to a $1.1 billion windfall over five years - certainly plenty of money to conduct inspections. In fact, as I've noted before, we could have replaced that bridge almost three full times with that increase.
Also, the bridge just got inspected in May, less than three months before its collapse. No one skipped inspecting the bridge, and pork barrel projects didn't interfere with the inspection schedule. There is no correlation between earmarking and this particular collapse. While it makes a rather stinging rebuttal to those who claim that a lack of tax increases caused the collapse, neither actually is true and neither advances our efforts to find the truth.
Ed currently lives in Minneapolis, and I grew up there myself. This bridge collapse was the result of a faulty design decades ago. It should never have been built as it was. In addition, it was an ugly structure, located in a prominent spot between downtown and the University of Minnesota.
In the early decades of the 20th century, Minnesota built some beautiful landmark bridges:
Of late, Minnesota has been building a few beautiful bridges over the Mississippi River. I just hope they are as structurally sound as they are pleasant to behold.
photo credits: Wikimedia Commons and Creative Commons