(Washington, D.C.) – Today, Citizens Against Government Waste (CAGW) announced the results of its online poll for the 2012 Porker of the Year. Last year produced an abundance of ridiculous moments in taxpayer gouging and government overreach, but in the end there can only be one “winner.” In a very tight race, that honor goes to Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.), who garnered 22.2 percent of the vote, just enough to edge out runner-up Illinois Governor Pat Quinn (D), who received 21.6 percent, and third-place finisher New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg (I), who received 20.6 percent. Also-rans Reps. Elijah Cummings (D-Md.), Mike Rogers (R-Ala.), and Frank Lucas (R-Okla.) received 17.6 percent, 11.8 percent, and 6.2 percent of the vote, respectively.
Sen. Stabenow received her nomination for submitting amendment #1812 to S. 1813, the Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Act, which would have extended federal subsidies for green energy. Many of the initiatives singled out for continued subsidies in Sen. Stabenow’s amendment, such as the Treasury Department’s 1603 grants, the Renewable Energy Production Tax Credit, and the tax credit for Alternative Fuel Vehicle Refueling, were expanded or begun as part of the $787 billion American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009. Taxpayer-subsidized green energy initiatives have led to bankruptcies, loan defaults, and layoffs at heavily subsidized firms including Solyndra, Ener1, Beacon, Tesla, Amonix, Evergreen Solar, SpectraWatt, and SunPower, among others.
Illinois Governor Pat Quinn avoided victory by less than a full percentage point, and it is easy to see why. Gov. Quinn received his nomination in September for suggesting the possibility of a federal bailout for his state’s public-sector pension programs, which are among the most underfunded in America. In his fiscal year (FY) 2012 budget (published in 2011), Gov. Quinn referenced his state’s looming pension problem, stating that “while the pension reform of 2010 improved the situation by decreasing future liabilities … significant long term improvements will come only from additional pension reforms, refinancing the liability and seeking a federal guarantee of the debt, or increasing the annual required state contributions [emphasis added].” When queried about it at the time, the governor claimed that the inclusion of that bailout language was a “precaution.”
Also narrowly escaping the honor of Porker of the Year was NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who was nominated for proposing a ban on sugary drinks larger than 16 ounces at restaurants, food carts, movie theaters, and any other venues that receive letter grades from the city for food service. Mayor Bloomberg’s nanny-state fervor seems to know no bounds. Since his nomination for Porker of the Month in June, he has gone on to ban food donations to homeless shelters, require that baby formula in hospitals be kept with medicines under lock and key, begun a salt consumption reduction initiative, and restricted the use of painkillers in city hospitals.
“Every Porker of the Year nominee had to be exceptionally wasteful to get to this stage, and if it were possible to name each of them a winner we would do so, since they were all so deserving,” said CAGW President Tom Schatz. “Instead, Sen. Stabenow’s failure to grasp that the federal government makes for a lousy venture capitalist makes her the porkiest of them all, though Mayor Bloomberg and Gov. Quinn are likely to do their very best to get nominated again in 2013.”
Citizens Against Government Waste is the nation’s largest nonpartisan, nonprofit organization dedicated to eliminating waste, fraud, abuse, and mismanagement in government. Porker of the Year is a dubious honor given to a lawmaker, government official, or political candidate who has shown the most blatant disregard for the interests of taxpayers throughout the year.