Commentary: A turf battle in stimulus package

This editorial appeared in The (Raleigh) News & Observer.

It's unfortunate that one casualty of congressional battling over "pork" in the economic stimulus bill was $200 million to refurbish the National Mall in Washington. The Mall project became a poster child for complaints that much of the proposed spending was unwise, unnecessary or un-stimulative, if that's a word. So out it went.

Just why this project would have been less of a boost to employment and private contractors' bottom lines than other public works projects in the package was never clear. But leave the politics out of it. Let's talk about the Mall.

This grand space between the Capitol and the Potomac is an obvious and important federal responsibility. An estimated 25 million people a year visit it. And it needs work.

For several years now the National Park Service has been worried about the Mall's condition, and has been planning improvements. Private groups have formed to help raise money (more power to them). But not much has been done. Somehow this project lacks the appeal of the successful Statue of Liberty restoration.

So what's wrong with a congressional appropriation, inside or outside a stimulus package?

To read the complete editorial, visit The (Raleigh) News & Observer.