Our opinion:?Pork unites politicians

Using a broad brush, Republicans, in general, tend to be painted as fiscal conservatives, always looking for ways to trim spending from the federal government on down, with a special knack for ferreting out waste. Using the same brush, Democrats, in general, tend to question defense spending, with a special knack for defending money spent on social programs.

That is, of course, unless the spending or the defense line item in question is located in their home district. That’s when they converge in a display of solidarity not otherwise seen in the salons of government.

Fiscal philosophy takes a distant back seat to bringing home the bacon.

You’re familiar with bacon, that excessively fatty food that comes from the underside of a swine, the animal from which pork is harvested.

So it is that Pennsylvania’s Republican Senator and its Democratic Senator are in total agreement that the 911th Airlift Wing near Pittsburgh absolutely must remain operational and its eight C-130s not be retired as the Pentagon had planned. Sens. Pat Toomey and Bob Casey, local officials and business leaders, all of whom seemed to know more about the Pentagon’s needs than the people who work in that big, odd-shaped building in Virginia, successfully lobbied to keep it open.

The senators argued in a letter to then-Defense Secretary Leon Panetta that closing the installation could be a waste of taxpayer dollars. Let us extend that statement as a political axiom: In the minds of legislators all taxpayer money contributed by the whole and spent in their home district is money well-spent. It becomes wasteful when it’s taken away.

Local officials and business owners argued that the base, which uses space at Pittsburgh International Airport, provides an economic boost to the entire community. But, is that why we build military bases, to boost local economies? Do we maintain them past their usefulness to do the same?

If you rely on voters for your employment, the answers to both those questions is yes, although you might not express the answer in a single word, preferring to couch it in terms consistent with the core principles for which your respective parties are generally known.