Ridiculous spending that won't be cut

Washington Post:
Along a country road in southern Oklahoma, there is a place that doesn’t make sense. It is an airport without passengers.

Or, for that matter, planes.

This is Lake Murray State Park Airport, one of the least busy of the nation’s 3,300-plus public airfields. In an entire week here, there might be one landing and one takeoff — often so pilots can use the bathroom. Or none at all. Visiting pilots are warned to watch out for deer on the runway.

So why is it still open? Mostly, because the U.S. government insists on sending it money.

Every year, Oklahoma is allotted $150,000 in federal funding because of this place, the result of a grant program established 13 years ago, in Congress’s golden age of pork. The same amount goes to hundreds of other tiny airfields across the country — including more than 80 like this one, with no paying customers and no planes based at the field.

Lake Murray, as it turns out, is an ATM shaped like an airport.

It’s also an example of the kind of spending — wide-ranging, constituent-pleasing giveaways — that Washington has struggled to swear off in this time of austerity. Once again, for example, Congress voted to continue giving money to local airports last year. And in Oklahoma, state officials voted to keep the airport open and, therefore, be able to take it.

“This is a direct gift from your congressman and senators,” said Victor Bird, director of the Oklahoma Aeronautics Commission, which handles the money the government allots for Lake Murray. “Everybody’s going to get something here, and we’re going to take some.”

For advocates of leaner government, the story of Lake Murray’s airport is particularly galling now, as an $85 billion budget cut nears on Friday. The “sequester,” as the cut is known, is what lawmakers call a “dumb cut,” because it doesn’t try to distinguish muscle from fat.

Within the Federal Aviation Administration, for instance, officials say the sequester could result in the closure of air-traffic control towers and long flight delays. But it would not touch the airport program, which has allotted Lake Murray about $1,500 for each of its takeoffs and landings.

“Why have we not gotten rid of the stupid stuff in the federal government?” said Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.), who highlighted Lake Murray in his annual “Wastebook” last year. “Because every one of these . . . stupid or irresponsible projects has a constituency.”
There is much more, believe it or not.

This is a program that should be ripe for the killing if there was any real leadership in the White House or in Congress.   It is a variant of the "bridge to nowhere."  Would Obama kill it if given a chance?  Probably he would only do so if he could spend the money somewhere else.


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