Moving mountains of federal loot
President Barack Obama may not be able to control sea levels as he promised during his campaign four years ago. But apparently his administration can nearly move mountains.
In this instance, the issue isnít global warming. Itís about spreading federal pork around.
As The Associated Press recently noted, the administration has approved shifting the Appalachian region some 200 miles west to provide funding through an anti-poverty program initially designated for the historically impoverished mountain area.
The new grant recipient is Elizabethtown, Ky., located in an area which the AP describes as ďa place of rolling countryside, cattle farms and cropland.Ē
Hardly a mountain in sight.
Meanwhile, Appalachian leaders contend that federal grant funds arenít going where they were intended.
And since there is a limited pot of money, each expansion of ďAppalachiaĒ in the political realm means fewer dollars for mountain towns and counties.
The grant in question is aimed at stemming the epidemic use of painkillers, which has been accompanied by a rash of motor vehicle accidents caused by incapacitated drivers.
The funding is provided through the Appalachian Regional Commission, a Great Society holdover created to counter poverty and unemployment.
Over the years, during both Democrat and Republican administrations, the program area has been expanded outside of the mountain region and now stretches from the Mississippi Delta to New York State.
Itís more evidence that pork is nonpartisan.
A few South Carolina counties qualify, and the regional anti-poverty program once provided $750,000 for the construction of the Carolina Panthers practice stadium at Wofford College in Spartanburg County.
The shifting of the Appalachians ó by political, not tectonic, processes ó recalls the effort, fortunately abortive, to have Lake Champlain declared one of the Great Lakes by Congress so that Vermont colleges would qualify for a federal program, and additional funding.
It was a not-so-great idea.
Neither is the monumental expansion of Appalachia in the political gazetteer.