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Oink! Book Has Congress' Biggest Porkers

Pig over US Capitol dome
AP
The newest "pig book" - detailing the biggest congressional porkers - is out Wednesday, and it's filled with questionable pet projects paid for by your tax dollars. CBS News investigative correspondent Sharyl Attkisson takes a look.

Despite all the talk on Capitol Hill about the need to cut back and even halt earmarks, the latest report shows it's an addiction many seem to find hard to break.

Helping disadvantaged youth get into the game of golf sounds like a good idea. That's what a program called "First Tee" does. It's got tons of corporate support.

And First Tee is overseen by a group with a contingent of executives pulling in healthy, six-figure salaries.

So why is $3 million of your tax money also going to support it? And from the military budget. no less?

It's all thanks to Rep. James Clyburn, D-S.C., who gave First Tee the money in an earmark.

An earmark is a grant of money outside the normal public review.

"You know, when you're at war, and you know you got a war on two fronts, the first thing you think of is golf, isn't it?" said Leslie Paige, vice president of the tax watchdog group Citizens Against Government Waste. "That's the first thing that comes to mind."

First Tee is just one of the so-called "pork projects" highlighted in the new "Pig Book," put out by Citizens Against Government Waste.

The Pig Book portrays a Congress with an insatiable appetite for "pork," spending your tax dollars on pet projects, often to help members win votes - or campaign contributions.


Citizens Against Government Waste 2008 Pig Book Summary
There's $3 million to help the diamond trade.

Nearly a $1million to manage noxious weeds in Idaho.

And there's money for the National Mule and Packers Museum, and a walking tour of a tiny town in Virginia - with a population of 474.

There are more earmarks than ever this year - 11,600 of them - totaling more than $17 billion tax dollars.

What's wrong with members of Congress trying to get money for their district?

"There is no competitive bidding," Paige said. "There is no accountability. So this is money that is secretive and unaccountable. That is not a way to spend taxpayer dollars. In fact, it is an invitation to corruption."

Enough members of Congress agree with that thought that there's been a push to stop all earmarks. At least temporarily.

Both Democratic presidential candidates, Sens. Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton, voted for the moratorium, but it hasn't gotten enough support to pass.

Does that mean Obama and Clinton aren't big earmarkers?

While they both say they want a moratorium, both have a healthy load of earmarks going this year - nearly $300 million worth for Clinton and nearly $100 million for Obama.

Sen. John McCain, the Republican candidate for president, simply doesn't do earmarks.