In politics, the term "pork barrel" refers to the appropriation of government spending for projects that are intended primarily to benefit particular constituents or campaign contributors. This usage originated in American English, with reference to gifts of salt pork in a barrel by slave-owners to their slaves. ... Typically, it involves funding for government programs whose economic or service benefits are concentrated in a particular area but whose costs are spread among all taxpayers. Public works projects and agricultural subsidies are the most commonly cited examples ... In other countries, the practice is often called patronage, but this word does not always imply corrupt or undesirable conduct.http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pork_barrel
pork barrel - government projects or appropriations yielding rich patronage benefits
Example sentence: Although several large appropriations for projects of questionable usefulness went to his home district, the congressman denied that he had supported any budget item that was just a pork barrel.
... You might expect that the original pork barrels were barrels for storing pork ... the term was also used figuratively to mean "a supply of money" or "one's livelihood" (a farmer, after all, could readily turn pork into cash). When 20th-century legislators doled out appropriations that benefited their home districts, someone apparently made an association between the profit a farmer got from a barrel of pork and the benefits derived from certain state and federal projects. ...
— From "Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day" (Jan 9, 2001)
PORK BARREL - "the state or national treasury, into which politicians and government officials dip for 'pork,' or funds for local projects.The phrase probably is derived from the pre-Civil War practice of periodically distributing salt pork to the slaves from huge barrels."
—From "Safire's New Political Dictionary" by William Safire (Random House, New York, 1993).http://www.phrases.org.uk/bulletin_board/26/m...
Pork barrel "state's financial resources" is 1909, on notion of food supply kept in a barrel (lit. sense from 1801); the shortened form pork in this sense is attested from 1862.http://www.etymonline.com/index.php?l=p&p=24
• it remains largely a pork-barrel trough from which greedy members of Congress continue to gorge, irrespective of any real security considerations.
• [Palin] initially supported the earmark, changing her mind only after the $398 million project gained notoriety as egregious pork spending by Congress.
• By definition, the practice is pork-barrel spending, designed for council members to spend tax money in their districts and at election time be able to brag
• Stimulus bills should not become vehicles for pork projects and additional spending under the guise of undefined "stimulus."
• The space shuttle program is nothing but pork.
• “The word is going out my friends — to the old-boy network, the pork-barrelers, the earmarkers — that change is coming,” Mr. McCain said at stop after stop.
• Pork barrel spending is nothing less than theft of the taxpayers' money.
• Despite having no record of success of any kind, the program currently provides billions of dollars in federal pork each year.
• The way to look at the administration's proposals is as sheer pork to favored groups like the solar energy lobby and the miners' union
• The spending watchdog group Citizens Against Government Waste identifies 2074 pork projects ... Too Much Pork In Defense Funding Bill
• Part of that spending is "earmarks", and we've been getting an earful lately of ... can easily be tagged "nothing but pork" by folks who don't live here.
• Sure she supported it, it was pork for Alaska, but Palin is no worse than any of the others. Show me a politician and I’ll show you a crook!
• if he were, he would not be running a huge deficit or spending like a drunken sailor or promoting sheer pork and corporate welfare.
• yet another McCain campaign TV ad touting the "fact" that Sarah Palin rejected the "Bridge to Nowhere" as evidence of her opposition to pork spending.
• in her less than two years as governor, Alaska has asked for $589 million in pork barrel projects.