Taxpayers are shelling out over $17 billion for more than 11,000 Congressional earmarks in FY 2008. One such project is a $1.6 million earmark in this year's defense spending bill. The money is going to the Search for Extra-Terrestrial Intelligence (SETI), a program that searches for evidence of life elsewhere in the universe.
That alien pork project is just one example of how elected officials use earmarks to funnel federal tax dollars back to powerful interests in their districts. While politicians and a few of their most well-connected constituents benefit from earmarks, the costs fall on individual taxpayers. Since 1991, Americans have paid over $271 billion for pork projects.
In this new Reason.tv video, Senator Tom Coburn (R-Okla) – who is known as the Senate's "Dr. No" for his aggressive opposition to earmarks – explains how taxpayers are being fleeced by Washington's insatiable appetite for pork.