Congress Daily reports that Alaska Sen. Ted Stevens, the ranking Republican on the Senate Commerce Committee, grilled Transportation Security Administrator Kip Hawley yesterday over his agency's plans for a 50-cent increase in airline passenger fees to pay for baggage screening equipment:
[Stevens was] adamant in opposing the 50-cent-per-flight fee increase, claiming that his constituents have to fly more intrastate than other Americans because of the size and difficult terrain of Alaska and are seeing none of the security improvements. "I don't know why we have to pay intrastate charges for security we don't get," he said.
And exactly what value would most Americans have gotten from the "bridges to nowhere" that Stevens notoriously championed a few years ago? With a price tag of $453 million, they would have cost every man, woman, and child in the country $1.50, three times the proposed TSA fee that riles Stevens. (Alaska ultimately got the money without explicit earmarks; one of the bridge projects has been canceled, while the other may yet proceed.) Even without those projects, Alaska excels at fleecing U.S. taxpayers, pulling in $1.84 for every dollar it sends to Washington, D.C., according to the Tax Foundation's numbers for 2005, when it ranked third by that measure, thanks largely to Stevens' tireless pork pulling.