Daily Editorial: Cracks in the dam | VailDaily.com

Daily Editorial: Cracks in the dam

Vail Daily Editorial Board
Vail CO, Colorado

For a chief executive with approval numbers in the basement, it’s amazing how often President Bush still gets his way. With Congress’s override Tuesday of the president’s veto on the Water Resources Development Act, it’s tempting to think the remaining 437 days Bush has in office may be peppered with more such defeats.

But don’t count on it. The only reason Congress was able to rally enough Republican votes to override this veto was that it was loaded with projects politically crucial to individual districts ” and the 2008 election isn’t far away. The irony is that, compared to recent Bush vetoes that quashed expansion of health care for poor families or research on stem-cell research, the president’s arguments against the water bill have more merit. While the bill contains money for sensible things like rejuvenating areas damaged by Katrina or Everglades restoration, it gives a lot of money to the Army Corps of Engineers for questionable projects.

The Corps spends a lot of money restoring beaches, funneling taxpayer money to buttress the homes of wealthy folks who built houses in silly places or developers putting up hotels on unstable ground. It’s like putting federal money into making avalanche paths safe for people to rebuild on. The bill is full of plenty of other so-called “earmarks” added by legislators loading on the park – tens of millions of which are for “beach replenishment” and recreation projects that look more like state responsibilities.

This kind of federal water bill should be targeted at critical flood-prevention and restoration programs, not dubious recreation projects or beach restorations not in the interest of the public at large. Democrats may revel in handing Bush a defeat, but both sides in Congress would do well to recognize the public is tired of their earmarks and pork-laden spending bills.

Just for perspective, though, the water bill is worth about $23 billion over 14 years. It takes us about two months to spend that amount in Iraq and Afghanistan.

” Alex Miller for the Editorial Board

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