“It is simply wrong — simply wrong — to think that the taxpayers’ dollars are ours’ to dispense with,” he said. “It’s their money.”
He said the result of under-the-table earmarking is projects such as Alaska’s infamous “bridge to nowhere,” in which the state’s delegation was able to set aside more than $200 million in a transportation bill for a bridge to service just 50 people. He later pointed to another project that set aside $3 million to study grizzly bears in Montana.
Pork-barrel spending doesn’t make up a large part of the federal budget, although McCain said only in the world of federal spending would billions of dollars not count as much money. He didn’t see how the public was going to take Congress seriously on the larger issues of Medicaid and Social Security reform if its members were continuing to spend taxpayer dollars on special projects back home.
McCain didn’t address West Virginia’s reliance on pork-barrel spending directly, but he did say he believed it had a corrupting influence on recipients just as it had on members of Congress.
“I don’t think it’s fair even to the people who are recipients of earmarked spending because I think it has a bad effect on them, just like I think it is bad for people to be on welfare unnecessarily,” he said.
One issue that Democrats continue to criticize McCain on is his stance on the occupation of Iraq.
McCain has called for keeping the troops in the country was as long as it takes for it to build up a government that can support itself. Many Democrats, on the other hand, have called for a more immediate withdrawal of troops.
“We are in a conflict in Iraq and Afghanistan and I believe that as we withdrawal, which we will withdrawal, the cost of that conflict in Iraq will go down,” McCain said.