Gimme More

Earmark free-for-all


Since Democrats took control of Congress nearly a year ago, both parties have stepped up their rhetoric about ending the practice of earmarking—sending federal money back to home states and districts for pet projects. New rules in the House require all earmarks to be compiled in a list that accompanies each bill, and congressmen must attach their name to each of their proposed projects.

But even with those new disclosure requirements, earmarks are as popular as ever, with 6,500 earmarks totaling almost $11 billion in this cycle. Apparently, when every congressman knows exactly how much his colleagues have managed to score for their home districts, that just makes the competition fiercer. Imagine a giant porky production number of "Anything You Can Do, I Can Do Better." This season's more egregious earmarks include $100,000 for a prison museum in Kansas and $250,000 for a "wine and culinary center" in Washington state.

From the floor of the Senate, longtime pork buster Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) objected to some Democrats' contention that transparency was sufficient reform: "We're lying to the American people when we say we're fixing earmarks when we're not."