New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie conflated statistics when he claimed Sen. Rand Paul’s “pork-barrel spending” is the reason Kentucky receives more federal funds than New Jersey for every tax dollar it sends to Washington. The figures cited by Christie are affected very little by pork-barrel spending.
Moreover, Senate Republicans have imposed a voluntary ban on earmarks - otherwise known as pork-barrel spending - since the Kentucky senator took office in 2011. So Paul hasn’t brought any of the traditional pork-barrel spending to Kentucky.
Paul also added some confusion to the issue when he seemed to suggest that Kentucky’s ratio was the result of funding for two military bases. Like earmarks, that spending has relatively little to do with Kentucky’s status as a “receiver” state. Besides, while there are two military bases in Kentucky, there are more than that in New Jersey.
The public jousting by two Republicans who are considered possible 2016 presidential candidates made lots of headlines. Christie took umbrage to Paul’s criticism of Hurricane Sandy aid. Paul said it should have been offset with cuts from foreign aid.
Here’s an abbreviated recap of some of the back-and-forth:
Christie, July 30: So if Senator Paul wants to start looking at where he’s going to cut spending to afford defense, maybe he should start looking at cutting the pork-barrel spending that he brings home to Kentucky, at $1.51 for every dollar and not look at New Jersey, where we get 61 cents for every dollar.
Paul, July 30: This is the king of bacon talking about bacon. You know, we have two military bases in Kentucky, and is Governor Christie recommending that we shut down our military bases? He wants to be this great champion of national defense. What does he want to do? Shut down military bases in Kentucky? No, what this debate really is about is that in order to have enough money for national defense — which I think is a priority for the government — you have to be willing to cut spending in other places, and Governor Christie and others have been part of this “gimme gimme gimme.” Gimme all this money.