When Pork Isn’t Pork

One of the things that’s gotten lost in the current debate about earmarks are…well the earmarks themselves. Leading the effort to “curb government waste” is none other than our old buddy, pun intended, John McCain who recently released a who’s who’s list of pork in the proposed budget.

But unsurprisingly, most of the “pork” projects McCain and his Republican allies are criticizing either flat out don’t exist or are actually good projects:

Conservatives are hammering the House’s new $410 billion spending bill because it contains $200,000 for what they’re derisively referring to as “tattoo removal.” Fox News’ Sean Hannity, Drudge, and at least one GOP official on MSNBC, among others, have been all over this today.

But a little reporting reveals that that this “tattoo removal” program is an anti-crime program in the San Fernando Valley that re-integrates reformed gang members and makes it easier for them to find jobs. Two Los Angeles law enforcement officials I just spoke to — one who identified himself as a “conservative Republican” — swore by the program for reducing crime and saving lives.

Rep. Berman’s office also put me in touch with Harold Gold, a probation officer with a local specialized gang unit. “It can get the kids jobs — if you have gang tattoos, you can’t get a job,” Gold said. “This program is one of the best life-saving and life-changing programs out here. I am about as right wing a conservative as you would ever find

Of course, its perfectly acceptable to spend $1 million of taxpayer money to celebrate Ronald Reagan’s birthday. Perfectly acceptable.


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