John Murtha who has turned congressional earmarks into an art-form has directed two-hundred million of your tax dollars to the John Murtha Johnstown-Cambria County Airport. The Airport has so many pictures of the Congressman you would think that it was a monument to the pork-meister.
Even that wouldn’t be so bad if the airport was actually used, but Murtha Airport gets a total of THREE commercial flights a day, from Johnstown to Washington DC. This tribute to John Murtha is literally the airport to nowhere.
Last week Senate Republican introduced,and the Democrats voted voted down an amendment by Senator DeMint to stop funding the airport to nowhere:
Republicans had their Bridge to Nowhere in Alaska, and now Democrats seem intent on wrapping themselves firmly around Congressman Jack Murtha’s Airport for No One in Johnstown, Pennsylvania. So much for changing the culture of spending in Washington.
Last week 53 Senators—including 51 Democrats—voted down an amendment by Republican Jim DeMint of South Carolina to stop spending federal funds on the airport that Mr. Murtha built with more than $150 million in federal subsidies and earmarks over the last two decades. (The Republicans voting against Mr. DeMint were Kit Bond and George Voinovich, neither of whom is running for re-election.) The airport has three daily commercial flights, and those are to Washington, D.C. The federal subsidies average $100 for each of the fewer than 30 passengers who use the airport each day, which means it would be cheaper for taxpayers to buy a train ticket for Mr. Murtha and other Washington D.C.-bound travelers than to keep the airport open.
Pennsylvania’s two Senators, Democrats Arlen Specter and Robert P. Casey, Jr., denounced the DeMint amendment because it singled out one airport. Of course, so do Mr. Murtha’s earmarks. The Senators also argued that airport funding decisions should be left to the Federal Aviation Administration. But everyone knows that Mr. Murtha’s clout at the House Appropriations Committee trumps the FAA. Earlier this year the airport received $800,000 in federal stimulus money, which has been spent in part to pave a second runway, even though the first one is barely in use. Mr. Murtha also secured $8.5 million for a new radar system that’s never been used.
Mr. DeMint pleaded with his colleagues that “if we can’t cut funding for this project, we can’t cut anything in Washington” and that the Senate will have declared “there’s no such thing as waste, there’s no such thing as fraud and corruption.” He lost, but voters keeping score can add it to their mental tally of why we have a $1.6 trillion deficit.