Congress: Now Is Not the Time for 9,000 Earmarks Worth $8 Billion!
DESPITE CLAIMS FROM THE Democratic leadership that the party would be going on a no pork diet, Democrats have been gorging themselves on spending projects over the objections of watchdog groups and taxpayers.
A new report revealed that pork-barrel spending reached levels of the absurd recently with news that pork was still on the menu when Congress approved the $410 billion omnibus spending package. The massive measure was intended to keep taxpayer money flowing to the federal government and prevent gridlock in
Washington, but legislators wasted no time writing in so-called earmarks for their favorite pet projects. Earmarks refer to guarantees that are usually
authored anonymously of federal funds to particular recipients in appropriations-related documents. Typically, a legislator seeks to insert earmarks that direct a specified amount of money to a particular organization or project in his home state or district.
The latest count puts the earmarks in the omnibus measure at nearly 9,000 items worth $8 billion. However, no one really knows the total yet as the package is composed of nine separate funding measures that make up a staggering 1,132 pages.
The worst examples of the pork include $200,000 for a program that removes tattoos on gang members, $1.7 million to study why pigs stink, $1 million to control crickets in Utah, $400,000 to combat bullying in Montana, $5.8 million for the Ted Kennedy Institute for the Senate, and $473,000 for the racist Mexican organization National Council of La Raza which is dedicated to taking the Southwest for Mexico.
In response to the criticism, Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) announced that the heads of the party would be pushing for additional reforms, including a cap limiting so-called earmarks to one percent of discretionary spending bills.
Schumer cited reforms to the appropriations process initiated by the Democrats upon taking control of Congress, adding that the party is looking at new proposals that deal with run-away spending.
“Here are three more things we’re going to do,” he said. “Next year every request is going to go online so it’s not just the ones that are about to be put in the bill. Second, we’re going to make [earmark information] available much earlier. And third, we’ve made a commitment that there will be no more than one percent as earmarks.”
Republicans have been exploiting the opportunity to grandstand about wasteful spending. However, the truth is they are no better than the Democrats when it comes to pork.
On the floor of the Senate, Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.) railed against the spending bill, citing Republicans for shamelessly criticizing Democrats while filling the legislation with their own self-serving programs.
“No fewer than 17 different Republican senators stood up and with absolutely righteous indignation, talked about the pet projects in the stimulus bill,” she said. “And guess what? Every single one of them has earmarks in this bill.”
(Issue # 12, March 23, 2009)