Imagine cruising down the Nancy Pelosi Super highway, stopping off at the McCain McDonalds®, throwing a few pennies into the Dennis Kucinich fountain, then taking a break at the Charles Rangel reflection pool, all before you head over to the Maxine Waters Terminal at the Chuck Schumer International airport. For now, at least, these are just imaginary future projects. But they might be closer to reality than we think.
It’s an epidemic: every day more and more sitting members of Congress are naming things after themselves–everything from bridges to schools, roads to community centers, parks, lakes, even telescopes. What’s next? Stars? New species of toads?
The winner in the “name everything I possibly can after me contest” might be late Senator Robert Byrd of West Virginia who served from 1959-2010. Years ago, John Stossel of ABC News uncovered dozens of taxpayer-funded projects in his state, which Byrd seemed to be proud of rather than embarrassed by.
“Between the sprawling locks and dam and the $75 million radio telescope, the state is dotted by at least 30 other federal projects with the Byrd preamble in their addresses. There are two Robert C. Byrd United States Courthouses, four Robert C. Byrd stretches of highway, freeway, expressway and drive, and a Robert C. Byrd Bridge. And two Robert C. Byrd Interchanges to reach these valuable amenities. There is the Robert C. Byrd Lifelong Learning Center, the Robert C. Byrd Hardwood Technology Center, the Robert C. Byrd Health and Wellness Center, and the Robert C. Byrd Institute for Advanced Flexible Manufacturing.”
Well, a few very brave House members are trying to put a stop to it. Representative Michael McCaul (R-Texas) has introduced a new bill: the No Monuments to Me Act.
Co-sponsoring are Reps. Justin Amash (R-Michigan), Kevin Brady (R-Texas),
Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah) and David McKinley (R-West Virginia). The bill (H.R. 1826) would “prohibit the use of Federal funds for real property or for a project or program named for an individual then serving as a Member of Congress, including a Delegate or Resident Commissioner to Congress, or as President.” Gee, this makes a tremendous amount of sense, doesn’t it? Especially when so many Americans are struggling to make ends meet, despairing of ever finding full-time work, fed up with higher taxes, crazy healthcare costs, scared to death of impending college tuition, the list goes on and on. And while some (very few, I’m sure) of the projects are merit-based and would actually benefit the communities they are scheduled to occupy, most are just ego boosting flights of fancy.
“The question is not whether these projects are worthy of taxpayer dollars,” Rep. McCaul said in a statement to The Hill. “It’s a problem of perception that these projects receive special treatment because of the names they bear. At a minimum, when the American people see this it feeds the belief that members of Congress are arrogant and out of touch with the people we represent.”
I for one, would feel more like tossing eggs at a Harry Reid Library than taking out books. Can you imagine enjoying a day spent rowing across John Boehner Lake? Or having a picnic in Al Franken Park? (Shudder…)
I have to say, the way most people feel about members of Congress today, they should be very hesitant to put their names on anything — except more bills to cut spending…or possibly letters of resignation.
Written by Debby Wolf