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Bill Funds Wars in Iraq, Afghanistan

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Bill Funds Wars in Iraq, Afghanistan

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Bill Funds Wars in Iraq, Afghanistan

Bill Funds Wars in Iraq, Afghanistan

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Leaders in Washington continue arguing over earmarks as President Bush signs a $555 billion spending bill that includes money for the war in Afghanistan and Iraq.

BILL WOLFF (Announcer): From NPR News in New York, this is THE BRYANT PARK PROJECT.

(Soundbite of music)

ALISON STEWART, host:

This is THE BRYANT PARK PROJECT from NPR News.

We have news, info for you today. And are you running for some football? We are.

I'm Alison Stewart.

JOHN FUGELSANG, host:

I'm John Fugelsang, sitting in on Thursday, December 27th, 2007.

STEWART: And for people thinking, I know the voice. I know the name. John, you had a really amazing thing that happened this year. You had your own one-man show.

FUGELSANG: Yeah, I'm the guy who does TV to break-in to the stage.

(Soundbite of laughter)

FUGELSANG: My eventual goading, bus boy career in 10 years. But, yes, I ran for a few months at New York Theatre Workshop downtown off Broadway with the show called "All the Wrong Reasons."

STEWART: And we think that might come back again?

FUGELSANG: We think it might. It's already come back once over the summer.

STEWART: Okay.

FUGELSANG: We just opened in L.A. during the Miami South Beach Festival next month. And hopefully, in New York again in the spring.

STEWART: And you wrote it?

FUGELSANG: I wrote it. It's about growing up with a child of an ex-nun and an ex-Franciscan, as well as the thing about the Catholic church and how we got that way. And it's sort of like - it's George Carlin and Spalding Gray had a kid. But that would be the show.

STEWART: I would want to meet that child, I think, in…

FUGELSANG: Love to have you.

STEWART: Right. Hey, coming up on THE BRYANT PARK PROJECT this hour, we're going to continue our look at how presidential candidates are perceived in their home states. Today, it's Chris Dodd and the great state of Connecticut.

FUGELSANG: That's right. And after 20 years and $3 billion Boston's big dig is finally done - and this is a big to do up in Boston. The question is, does it mean anything to where you live?

STEWART: Something that means something in Boston? The New England Patriots. In New York, it's the Giants. It is on. It's going to be on your TV for the first time. The big game is going to be simulcast. We'll talk about that a little bit later on. We'll also talk about the debate about whether the teams should go for it, considering they're both already in the playoffs. We'll see what happens. Our sports guy, Bill Wolff, is here to debate it with our producer, Dan Pashman. And we'll even hear our executive producer Sharon Hoffman - may get in the mix. So it could get a little ugly later on the show. But it would be worth listening. We'll also go to Rachel Martin for today's headlines in just a minute.

But first, here is THE BPP's Big Story.

(Soundbite of music)

FUGELSANG: If your wallet feels a bit lighter this morning, there may be a reason for it. It may be $555 billion lighter, in fact. Before heading to Crawford yesterday for a week's break-off, President Bush signed a $555-billion domestic spending bill. That's billion dollars, Alison, with a B.

STEWART: It's an omnibus bill that covers government spending through September 30th of 2008. Now, he signed the bill. President Bush criticized congressional Democrats, who, he says, did not do enough to contain pork barrel earmarks.

FUGELSANG: Indeed. Mr. Bush said of the bill, quote, "I am disappointed in the way Congress compiled this legislation. Congress had dropped into the bill a nearly 9,800 earmarks that total more than $10 billion. These products are not funded through a merit-based process and provide a vehicle for wasteful government spending."

STEWART: Now, on the other side of the aisle, the spokesman for Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said, half of all the earmarks were directed by the president and his administration. So what about those 10,000 or so earmarks? Many of them were added late in the process, leaving little time for review. But there are (unintelligible) in '05, when Republicans controlled both Houses - and that's according to The Hill, a newspaper that follows Congress.

FUGELSANG: And congressmen have pointed out the earmarks included money to help veterans' benefits, college assistance funds and incentives for reducing carbon emissions.

And, Alison, your home state - the great state of New Jersey - made out pretty okay on this deal. Jersey is getting more than $7 million for beach restoration and other environmental projects.

STEWART: Well, John, your home state of New York did just fine too. In fact, Geneva, New York - the center for great genetics research, to be exact - received $1.8 million to help build a research facility, aimed in making the U.S. wine industry more competitive.

FUGELSANG: If loving wine is wrong, Americans don't want to be right.

STEWART: Wow, as a sometime California resident, you might like this. Richmond, California - it's getting $450,000. (Unintelligible) right?

FUGELSANG: Yeah.

STEWART: …for a basketball program.

FUGELSANG: That's so big.

STEWART: The numbers are so big, and my mind…

FUGELSANG: Good program.

STEWART: …can't (unintelligible) around them.

(Soundbite of laughter)

FUGELSANG: Yeah, those are really great Jerseys of that program. And, by the way, the president's home state of Texas, right near Fort Hood, is getting $357,000 to re-vegetate 30,000 acres that were de-vegetated by artillery.

STEWART: Now, of course, a big part of the tab is the war - the three wars actually in Iraq, in Afghanistan, and the so-called war on terror. The president estimates war spending now totals about $11 billion each month. Though, Republican Senator Ted Stevens says it's more like 15 billion.

The Democrats wanted language in the bill, setting a timeline for withdrawal from Iraq. But they failed, once again, to get it in writing.

FUGELSANG: So, again, it's the White House and the Congress, criticizing each other for spending too much and spending.

And that's THE BPP's Big Story.

Now, here is Rachel Martin with even more news.

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