Send us Your Earmark: Could Congress Turn off the Tap on Trinity Money?

Lend us your earmark: Buzz has never been supportive of the Tea Party and its goals, which as near as we can figure consist of turning back the calendar to 1796. Still, one must keep with the times, so maybe we should rethink our stance. Couple of questions though: If we join up, do we get to wear a tricorn hat, and are we required to listen to that creepy nutbag Glenn Beck guy? Just wondering.

What has us in a tea-sipping frame of mind these days is the chance the Senate may vote after Thanksgiving on a temporary ban on Congressional earmarks, those special little side deals that allow legislators to slip federal money for pet projects back home into unrelated bills. The Tea Party GOP is all about ending earmarks, which have been the major source of bucks for the Trinity River project—not the tollway-to-nowhere-between-the-levees part of the project, but the flood-control portion.

"Congress has spent $106 million this decade for a floodway project in Dallas, though no administration has requested it. Republican lawmakers won't be able to fight for it next year," the Wall Street Journal reported this past weekend.

That's U.S. Army Corps of Engineers money the WSJ is talking about, not the toll road, which is a city deal. That means the raising of levees downtown and the construction of new levees downriver of downtown.

You mean the levees that are no good anymore? The ones that have to be totally rebuilt or a huge swath of land in the center of the city will be too dangerous for development? Them's the ones. Floodway improvements have long depended on the kindness of the Texas congressional delegation and earmarks. No White House has ever supported the Trinity project, from Bush to Obama.

So, take away earmarks and the city could be faced with trying to scratch up the money needed to fix the levees, which the Corps said last year were a touch leaky. Where, oh where, might that money come from? Hmm. (Cough...kill...cough...toll road.)

Now, some readers might be thinking Buzz is taking this whole schadenfreude thing too far. Will we really be happy—and join the Tea Party—if the rains come, the city floods and the citizenry is sent floating downstream to Houston? No, probably not.

On the other hand, everyone's gotta die of something, and there's a certain satisfaction in the notion that, as the water rises to our lower lip, we'll be able to shout out our last words: "We told you so!"

 
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