Stick It In Your Earmark!

Via reader Richard Hohm comes this interesting Club for Growth bit about earmarks in our new, fiscally responsible Congress:

Even though the Democratic majority vowed to return Congress to a path of fiscal responsibility, the 2008 appropriations bills were stuffed with wasteful pork projects. While Representatives John Campbell, Jeff Flake, Jeb Hensarling, Scott Garrett, and David Obey (1 amendment) offered 50 amendments to strip outrageous pork projects from the appropriations bills, only one amendment, offered by Rep. Jeff Flake, passed....

Some interesting numbers to consider:

  • Sixteen congressmen scored a perfect 100%, voting for all 50 anti-pork amendments. They are all Republicans.
  • The average Republican score was 43%. The average Democratic score was 2%....
  • 105 congressmen scored an embarrassing 0%, voting against every single amendment. The Pork Hall of Shame includes 81 Democrats and 24 Republicans.
  • The Democratic Freshmen scored an abysmal average score of 2%. Their Republican counterparts scored an average score of 78%.

Some of the targeted pork projects this year include:

  • $2 million for a "Paint Shield for Protecting People from Microbial Threats," requested by Rep. Stephanie Tubbs Jones (D-OH-11). Rep. John Campbell challenged Murtha to demonstrate that the $2 million earmark would be effective and that it had been put up for a competitive bid. Murtha could not. Amendment failed, 91-317.
  • $1 million to the Center for Instrumented Critical Infrastructure in Johnstown, Pennsylvania, requested by Rep. John Murtha (D-PA). No congressional member could confirm the existence of the alleged Center. Amendment failed, 98-326.
  • $2 million to establish the "Rangel Center for Public Service" at City College of New York, requested by none other then Rep. Charlie Rangel (D-NY). Amendment failed, 108-316.
  • $34 million for the Alaska Native Education Equity program, requested by Rep. Don Young (R-AK). When Scott Garrett challenged Young's earmark, Rep. Young declared, "You want my money, my money!" Amendment failed, 74-352.

More, including a full ranking of all congressthings, here. (For those who care, Rep. Ron Paul [R-Texas], whose relationship to earmarks remains disappointing to me, only voted in favor of 12 of 41 anti-earmark amendments, which gave him a miserable 29 percent score).

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  • ||

    geebus, I have seen everything now, a critique of Ron Paul at Reason!?, surely, sir, you blasphem

  • Willys||

    Congress... 535 reasons to support term limits.

  • ||

    but how many pork spending proposals did he actually approve?

    voting for an anti-pork amendment is akin to saying "some pork is ok, this pork is not", which is contrary to his nature of voting against everything.

  • ||

    As I understand it,by requesting the pork he is doing his job of serving as the mouthpiece of his constituency. Then by voting against the pork he is upholding his oath to the constitution as he interprets it. Sounds like he is just trying to do his job on both ends.

  • Mark Twain||

    There is no native criminal class except Congress.

  • ||

    sigh...

  • VM||

    FYI:
    hier is where Herr Weigel talked about this last December.

  • ||

    You guys need to grow up. This was old in the 80s already.

    I know it SOUNDS silly, to have a 'paint shield', but it's a real line of research right now. I currently work for an academic lab which is developing inherently antimicrobial materials and coatings in collaboration with industry and yes, partially funded by government. The idea being that if bacteria can't grow on a surface, it can't spread infection, you could use this for the walls and furniture of a hospital or for implanted devices or ... . well whatever guys, you don't like it, you don't like it. Basic research is the sort of thing that Libertarians don't like because they think it's a sin against their great God Ayn Rand, to force the taxpayer to fund the advance of technology - and Republicans don't like it because they don't want things to change, ever.

    But next time you go to some hospital in our wonderful PRIVATE health system and they've got fucking DRYWALL in all the rooms, and they shove ordinary plastic tubing into you, and it's all COATED with germs, and you are visited by some sloppy ass overworked nurse who don't even wash her hands, and you get some flesh eating antibiotic resistant germ that eats your arms and legs, maybe you'll see why people want this sort of research done.

  • Stephen The Goldberger||

    That's genius. Introduce your pork projects for your district onto bills which will pass anyways, then vote against the bills to uphold your own morality. Perhaps Ron is a slicker politician than anyone realizes.

  • aaron||

    Sounds like he is just trying to do his job on both ends.

    That would be work if he didn't know damn well those bills will pass whether he votes for them or not.

  • Paul||

    Paula

    Sounds like he is just trying to do his job on both ends.

    Oh, Congress is definitely doing a job on us on both ends, believe me.

  • Paul||

    But next time you go to some hospital in our wonderful PRIVATE health system and they've got fucking DRYWALL in all the rooms,

    Like what they have in Cuba?

  • Orv||

    Despite some of the examples listed above, some earmarks are actually for worthwhile projects. I also think that too often money goes to those members of Congress who have been there the longest, or head certain powerful committees. Why not dole out an equal amount of money to each member to spend whichever way they choose, and then they would answerable to their own constituency during the next election. I think people from Murtha's district circle the wagons everytime their representative is attacked - it's money coming into their district, no matter what it's for, and they don't want it taken away.

    Not that this would ever happen, of course.

  • ||

    Let's see -- new Democratic majority and their campaign promises: end the war in Iraq -- check. End pork -- check. Fiscal responsibility -- check.

    Meet the new boss, same as the old boss.

  • libertreee||

    But next time you go to some hospital in our wonderful PRIVATE health system and they've got fucking DRYWALL in all the rooms, and they shove ordinary plastic tubing into you, and it's all COATED with germs, and you are visited by some sloppy ass overworked nurse who don't even wash her hands, and you get some flesh eating antibiotic resistant germ that eats your arms and legs, maybe you'll see why people want this sort of research done.-trollumination




    I guess I shouldn't feed the troll, but his jump from research "some of which is funded by the feds" to if you leave them out, we will return to the dark ages is a leap over a chasm only jumped by liberals...

  • ||

    It's been an hour and a half, and we haven't heard from joe. He must have decided to go out for lunch today.

  • Paul||

    It's been an hour and a half, and we haven't heard from joe. He must have decided to go out for lunch today.

    He's working, today. He's currently standing in front of a family home, clipboard in hand, while the home is being demolished. Over his shoulder the family (previous "owners") and two crying children look on, sitting next to their dog.

    Ok, ok, that was a little harsh. They probably don't have a dog.

  • ||

    I guess I shouldn't feed the troll, but his jump from research "some of which is funded by the feds" to if you leave them out, we will return to the dark ages is a leap over a chasm only jumped by liberals...

    Whenever you talk to a liberal and tell them you are a libertarian, 9/10 they--

    1) Think you worship Ayn Rand

    2) Think you want to make grandma eat Alpo for her retirement and kick innocent children out on the street

    3) Scream at you, "BUT WHAT ABOUT THE ROADS??"

  • VM||

    Cesar:

    good call. I used to tell them, "let's send 'em the same way as parks... I'm against parks, too."

    (that or telling people I summer in Alaska on baby seal clubbing expeditions usually allowed me to reclaim the beautiful silence)

  • Robert||

    Earmarks don't increase total spending, they just direct some spending out of the total in an appropriation bill legislatively, rather than having all the spending decisions be made by unelected bureaucrats. And if you think the bureaucrats could make the spending decisions more objectively, you need to read "The Myth of Scientific Public Policy" by Robert Formaini.

  • ||

    VM--my favorite response from a liberal was when they told me being a libertarian meant I "only want to government to protect you while you exploit others, in effect a return to indentured servitude".

  • VM||

    nice!

    it's equally fun to rile up social conservatives, too, but I've found, unlike the liberals I've annoyed, they tended more quickly to violence.

    becoming patronizing then really gets em going!

  • ||

    "Even though the Democratic majority vowed to return Congress to a path of fiscal responsibility, the 2008 appropriations bills were stuffed with wasteful pork projects."

    Since joe isn't here, I guess I'll have to fill in for him:

    1) How do we *know* that the Democrats will spend all that money? We will have to wait until the final billis approved. Don't jump to conclusions - wait a little bit longer before commenting.

    2) You misquoted people again, thus forfeiting your credibility. You said that Speaker Pelosi wanted to "send the U-Haul over to the Treasury and bring back shitloads of money for our special projects." What she actually said was "let's send the a *big truck* [not specifically a U-Haul] over to the Treasury and bring *buttloads* [not shitloads] of money to finance our special projects." As you can plainly see, the actual quotation is perfectly innocent.

    3) Karl Rove dresses in woman's clothing, don't you know? But you're too busy recycling stale right-wing talking points to care about the *real* news.

  • bill||

    trollumination,

    There are already antimicrobial paint additives on the market. I use them all the time. You can get it at Sherwin Williams. No need for 2 million to develop another one.

  • Paul||

    Ceasar, a correction

    3) Scream at you, "BUT WHAT ABOUT THE ROADS??" CHILDREN??"

  • Paul||

    it's equally fun to rile up social conservatives, too, but I've found, unlike the liberals I've annoyed, they tended more quickly to violence.

    VM, you must know a different group of liberals than I do.

  • brian||

    Club for Growth is the right-wing partisan equivalent of Economic Policy Institute. As soon as I see either one, I stop reading.

  • ||

    Paul--

    Yes, I forgot about The Children. But, they alway s come back to roads when its libertarians under discussion. "Libertarian? But, that means you don't believe in roads! hahaha!"

  • ||

    You know, for a group that is seemingly interested in comparing how fiscally responsible this Congress is compared to the last few, they didn't provide very much information that would allow the reader to compare the two.

    Of course there is pork in the appropriations bills coming our of this Congress. There is pork in the appropriations bills coming out of every Congress. The relevant quesiton is, has the amount of pork grown, shrunk, or stayed the same.

    For some reason, I can't seem to find that information in the report by this self-idenfied Republican group. Now that I think about it, none of the Republican groups complaining about pork seem to put out that information.

    I wonder why that might be.

  • ||

    Ah, the fanclub.

    I've never been a celebrity before.

    *kiss kiss*

    Somebody lose one too many arguments?

  • VM||

    Paul -

    Northeastern, NESCAC educated ones and ones that worked "on the Hill" in the early 90s.

    joe - nice!

  • VM||

    "I wonder why that might be."

    cuz the last congress was the worst of the worst?

    *shudders*

    we had not enough delay and too much DeLay...

  • ||

    By the way...

    With all the financial headlines we've been seeing, from the French surrender to China's "nuclear option" to what's happened to our currency and the Fed's inability to ease even if it wanted to, it's ultimately about one thing...

    The Bush Administration/Republican budget disgrace.

    IF our economy slows during this election cycle, and the Democrat candidate hammers on the Republicans for the slow down, they'll be right on the money if they blame the Republicans for their lack of budget disci... rather, for their having spent like drunken sailors.

    ...and no, I'm no longer persuaded that the Democrats would have been worse.

  • ed||

    the sort of thing that Libertarians don't like because
    they think it's a sin against their great God Ayn Rand


    Hahahahaha. Boy, are you barking under the wrong bridge, Trollwhatever.

  • ||

    Basic research is the sort of thing that Libertarians don't like because they think it's a sin against their great God Ayn Rand, to force the taxpayer to fund the advance of technology - and Republicans don't like it because they don't want things to change, ever.

    If it involved killing human embryos, H&R consensus would be all for it. Ron Bailey and Mike Moynihan would write articles accusing paint shield opponents of supporting a culture of death.

  • MattXIV||

    I know it SOUNDS silly, to have a 'paint shield', but it's a real line of research right now. I currently work for an academic lab which is developing inherently antimicrobial materials and coatings in collaboration with industry and yes, partially funded by government.



    Consequently it is totally unimpeachably reasonable for Rep. Stephanie Tubbs Jones to request $2mil be earmarked for a contract ostensibly for Defense purposes (but not coordinated through the normal research programs) that will go to a company with operations in her district. That's gotta be totally on the level.

  • MattXIV||

    I'm surprised joe hasn't pointed it out, but Republicans have strategic reasons for opposing this bill beyond any interest in fiscal restraint. Pork is primarily used to help incumbents get reelected and the party that controls congress determines who gets how much. Consequently the earmarks of a Democratic majority will do more to help Democrats electorally than the Republicans, so it makes sense for them to make a stink about it from the perspective of electoral strategy.

  • ||

    "*kiss kiss*"

    Gosh, joe, I'm flattered, but you're just not my type.

    "Somebody lose one too many arguments?"

    Someone did, joe, and I feel bad for you.

  • ||

    Basic research is the sort of thing that Libertarians don't like because they think it's a sin against their great God Ayn Rand, to force the taxpayer to fund the advance of technology - and Republicans don't like it because they don't want things to change, ever.

    A billion dollars to create the GPS infrastructure -- I don't mind the federal government getting involved. The start up costs and the risk of not getting your money back are so high, I'm not sure even a large consortium can do the job in the private sector.

    However, 2 million to work on a product that has already shown promise in the marketplace -- the feds should keep their grubby fingers out of my wallet and let venture capitalists do the job.

  • Paul||

    VM:

    These are the liberals that I know.

    As soon as the man on stage started singing about the stars in his best Chris Martin impersonation, the woman reportedly said: "Oh, no, not that song. I can't stand that song!"

    Witnesses said her distaste for Coldplay quickly took a violent turn, and she leaped at the would-be crooner, shouting expletives and telling him that his singing "sucked," while expressing the same opinion of the song, according to a Seattle police report.

    She pushed the man and punched him, all in an effort to stop his singing.

  • VM||

    *hands paul a cookie

  • ||

    "That's genius. Introduce your pork projects for your district onto bills which will pass anyways, then vote against the bills to uphold your own morality. Perhaps Ron is a slicker politician than anyone realizes."
    Whether it's genius or being slick...it could also be knowing where your obligations lie. If he knows that the bill will be passed anyway, he will want to insure that his district receives some of it's tax money back for local use rather than it going into the coffers of some bloated federal agency. I'm for the genius part working for the taxpayer and the slick part working against the government.

  • LandSnark||

    [Joe comes up from basement at dinnertime, tells mom, "I won seven arguments today!"]

  • ||

    These links are to related stories purporting to show that overall earmarks have decreased from 29 billion to 13.2 billion, primarily because the dems have declared a moratorium on earmarks on 9 of the 11 appropriations bills, the exceptions being defense and homeland security.

    http://www.cagw.org/site/PageServer?pagename=reports_pigbook2007

    http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/17501139/

    Maybe there are hidden earmarks in the other 9 bills (which it appears have not passed yet). Maybe there are no earmarks but spending has increased in other ways to compensate for them. I don't know. But it appears that the Democratic Congress, for the time being, have done what they said they would do.

    What the Republicans have done is to set up a little street theatre in the House, nobly questioning the remaining pork projects (whose 13.2 billion dollar cost compares favorably to the 17.6 billion in DOD and DHS earmarks from the year before, originating from a Republican Congress.)

    Actually some of the points raised by the Republican critics seemd pretty sensible (BTW, the microbial paint grant was to Sherwin Williams). Maybe this is more complex and maybe MSNBC and Citizens Against Government Waste are left wing front groups--I just searched Yahoo with the string "earmarks decline" and this is what I got

  • ||

    To be fair, the process was started last December by some Republican Committee chairs who blocked passage of some earmark laden appropriations bills (the other 9) , and, subsequently, the Dems banned (temporarily) the insserion of earmarks.

    The one thing I don't understand is this: it seems as though no appropriations bills were actually passed and yet another bill (with the moratorium) still funded the government. Perhaps someone can explain this apparent contradiction.

  • ||

    Thanks for the facts, jimmyboy.

    It's always good to make these discussions reality-based.

  • ||

    Of course, we can't really make a judgement yet. It certainly appears that the Democrats are cutting way back on pork, but the sausage is still being made, as it were.

    Still, you'd have to be delusional not to realize that the 2001-2007 Congresses were off the charts. Even a reversion to the good old days of the 80s would be a serious improvement.

  • ||

    """You know, for a group that is seemingly interested in comparing how fiscally responsible this Congress is compared to the last few, they didn't provide very much information that would allow the reader to compare the two."""

    Didn't last years Congress push the budget funding bill for this year off onto this Congress?

  • ||

    Hey Bill -

    Well, there is more at stake here than paint. Although paint is a good start. As far as materials - tell you what, if you ever need any sort of catheter or implant, go ahead and mix up some paint and coat it before the docs put it in, see how it goes.

    Anyway there are all sorts of things to consider. Spectrum of activity, lifespan/leaching, evolution of resistance, all that fun stuff! So saying "we got one" isn't really everything.

    I think if the government is gonna spend taxpayers money I'd rather it go to science than to some other silly thing. In the realm of governmental nastiness, funding for basic research is really a benign thing. Tell you guys what - when we have total freedom in every way from governmental overreach, then let's talk about getting rid of government science funding.

    Only nobody wants to tackle that last, right? Everyone wants to nail scientific research FIRST and that really pisses me off because, last I checked, no scientists dressed up in jackboots and kicked in some hapless Libertarians door.

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