Government Spending

Senatorial Tragedy: "Without congressional earmarks, we find ourselves at the mercy of the bureaucrats…"


When Rep. Mike Rogers (R-Ala.) recently suggested that House Republicans are thinking about about resurrecting earmarks, he rightly took a lot of abuse. After all, if the GOP is trying to be the party of limited government and lower spending, doling out specific ladles of federal cash to projects in your district is not a good sign that you're serious about that.

"It's not a surprise. He's a longtime porker," said Mr. Schatz, whose organization produces the annual Pig Book documenting those who obtain the most earmarks. He said the next version of the Pig Book, expected later this month, will show that while earmarking has gone underground, the ban has not ended the practice entirely.

The focus on earmarks has returned over the past month as Congress has debated a massive transportation bill, which funds the federal government's roads- and transit-building program.

In 1987, President Reagan vetoed a highway bill because it included 152 earmarks. Congress voted to override his veto, and the spigot opened.

The last bill, signed by President Bush in 2005, contained more than 6,000 earmarks, and lawmakers said they were promised earmarks in exchange for their pledge of support for the bill….

The Washington Times notes that some analysts and lawmakers complain that lack of earmarks has made the bill harder to pass. Schatz says that's bushwah:

"The highway bill problem was more a problem of size and scope of expenditures than it was lack of earmarks," he said. "I don't think members who were concerned with size could have been bought off with earmarks."

Meanwhile over at the Senate, there's this sort of thinking going on:

The Senate in February defeated a proposal by a 59-40 vote that would have imposed a permanent ban on earmarks.

"The reality is that without congressional earmarks, we find ourselves at the mercy of the bureaucrats to ensure that our local needs are fulfilled," Sen. Daniel K. Inouye, Hawaii Democrat, said during the floor debate on that amendment.

Whole story here.

Reason created a Porker of the Month video series in conjunction with CAGW. Watch them and other earmark-related vids here.

And to learn how earmarks function and why they are a corrosive force in national politics, watch this video about Washigton, DC's number-one party pad for fat-cat lobbyists and clubby pols:

Related: Earmarks—The Alien Menace.

NEXT: Shikha Dalmia on Why ObamaCare Is So Unpopular

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  1. Fuck registration and fuck threaded comments

    1. Way to be civil and on-topic. MODERATOR!

    2. And yet you did it.

      Isn’t it worth not dealing with the abuse?

      1. I didn’t want some douchebag registering “SIV” first.

        1. You’re lucky. I’ve been thinking about structured investment vehicles a lot lately and thought that just might be the name for me.

          1. I was slightly tempted to get “MNG” or “joe” first. I was torn between “Single Issue Voter” and “SIV”. Or even one of mymore incunabular handles.

            1. And I thought all this time that it stood for simian immunodeficiency virus.

              1. Semi-infinite variables?

            2. Self-inflicted violence

            3. self-interested virgin?

      1. Morning links by morning in Malaysia.

    3. I’m with you.

  2. The Senator is exactly right.

    The appropriations power belongs to the Congress.

    I don’t see any language in the Constitution saying that the Congress only has the power to hand big baskets of cash to the Executive, which then gets to spend the money however it wants.

    1. That is the correct argument, IMO, Fluffy, since all spending originates in the HoR.

      This was Sen. Jim Inhoff’s argument for earmarks, which as a term has gotten somewhat of bad rap.

      Otherwise, RP’s district should return every earmarked penny, regardless of whether or not he voted for the spending bills benefiting his district, since he decries them so.

      1. since all spending originates in the HoR
        Not quite. Article I, Section 7 states that all revenue bills shall originate in the House of Representatives. Spending of said revenue can start in either house.

        1. Ah! I stand corrected! Thank you, Suki! I should have typed that.

          The criticism of RP still stands, however.

          1. What?

            Ron Paul advocates for all funds to be earmarked so that people know where the money is going. Are you confusing his opposition to spending in general and specific wasteful use of earmarks with his support for the practice of earmarking?

            1. I think they are both legitimate positions. Knowing where money is going, along with possible getting back money taken from a state through taxes, seem legitimate reasons to me. I am not sure if they justify earmarks, but I can see good arguments for both sides.

    2. I understand, but there’s also a lot of Spitzer-like comeuppance Congress is getting. Congress creates the bureaucracy, they should suffer it like everyone else.

      And in practice earmarks wound up being nothing but add-ons anyway. Congress can certainly write spending-specific bills if they want. Instead they choose to “hide” bridges to nowhere in earmarks instead of bringing the specific spending up for vote. Most of the time these earmarks are just local initiatives that even the locals don’t support all that much, but if these things are that important they should be paid for by the locals and not subsidized by the nation or else they would have support from multiple states.

      More bad spending is being stopped than good spending is being stopped with the ban on earmarks.

  3. Look at that, a registered me.

    1. Good day Mr Warty.

    2. It’s flattering on you in an obese, steer molesting way, Warty.

      Who’s your tailor?

      1. Pro Lib, obviously.

        1. He molests sheep, what would he know of steers? I think you’re covering for Epi…

          I’ve long suspected Episiarch has a fondness for needlepoint and crochet.

          1. His sewing needs to come up, though.

    3. i feel safer knowing you’re being monitored by Reason

  4. Because surely our biggest problem now is NOT that the Congress has too much power and the Executive Branch too little?

    Is that really the crisis in American governance right now?

    1. No, the crisis is that all the bastards in both branches have too much power.

      1. No, the crisis is that all the bastards in both all three branches have too much power.


  5. “The reality is that without congressional earmarks, we find ourselves at the mercy of the bureaucrats to ensure that our local needs are fulfilled,” Sen. Daniel K. Inouye, Hawaii Democrat, said during the floor debate on that amendment.

    Is this not, more or less, the argument of a certain doctor from Texas? It apparently cannot be artfully communicated, but there might be something to Congress holding the reins of the money horses they were going send out the gate anyway. They’ve given away so much of their responsibilities to regulators and courts, keeping the purse could be a good less bad thing.

    And pork and earmarks aren’t necessarily synonymous.

  6. This is one more time that Ron Paul was saying the right thing the whole time, and was ignored. The last thing we need is more power in the executive branch.

    1. Ron Paul was recently saying almost exactly the same thing as the title. If the Congress does not limit the Executive as to where funds can be spent, the Executive will do whatever they like.

    2. The other nuance, of course, is that Paul is for much lower taxes and spending generally, and he doesn’t trade his vote for earmarks, at least as blatantly as others.

      I’m pretty sure Inouye doesn’t swing that way

      1. Another example of a tool that can be used for good or for evil.

    3. Agreed. When I first saw the quote I thought it was RP.

      Bureaucrats should have their decision-making power reduced as much as practical, and Congress should have a lot fewer things to make decisions about. Congresscritters abuse earmarks on bills which are abusive in the first place.

    4. They aren’t exactly at the mercy of bureaucrats, the House still has the power of the purse. Threaten to defund the executive branch agencies and let’s see how fast the mandarins start taking “advice and suggestions” from the esteemed gentlemen in Congress as to which districts need critical funding outlays. The bribery will just take another form.

      And I would think that the fact that the government has to bribe itself to get anything done is pretty good evidence that our humble public servants are not in fact all that big on altruistically working for the common good. They really are pigs.

      If you’ve never read or seen “Yes, Minister” and “Yes, Prime Minister”, you need to do so.

      1. Yes, Minister is one of the best documentaries about government out there.

  7. Re: Sen Daniel Inouye, alt-text.

    Correction: He is not saying “Aloha”, he is gesturing, “Hang Loose.”

    Makes a bit more sense in context, actually.

    1. He’s saying “Howlie go home, leave dinero on the shore.”

      1. Wouldn’t that be a different hand gesture of the single digit flavour?

  8. Sounds like we need to outlaw bureaucrats.

    1. Instead we bureaucratized outlaws.

  9. Holly Jeebus!! Eleanor Holmes Norton is on Washington Journal pimping Hopey McChange’s budget. She just said (with a straight face) The president’s budget cuts the deficit. It doesn’t cut it in the sense that it goes down but EVERY federal program is being slashed and if we do that we must also take some from the ‘Bush tax-cuts’. What the fuckitty fuck?? She is a perfect example of why DC should have no Congressional representation whatsoever.

    1. And it’s not as if the budget is really going down.

    2. It doesn’t cut it in the sense that it goes down.


    3. What budget? The one that was unanimously rejected by congress?

  10. The Reasonable font controls are now broken.


    1. Works for me (the developer). What version are you? Check chrome://extensions and try the “Update extensions now” button if reasonable’s not at version 2.0.3.

      1. I did not get an update button presented to me, but removing and getting it out of the extensions store did the trick.

        The character count is genius. You are the awesome.

        1. Thanks.

          Oh, uh, and if you want the “Update extensions now” button on the chrome://extensions page, you need to check the “Developer mode” checkbox first, apparently.

          1. Thanks, that did it.

            I was somehow on 1.8.5.

            I did find however that unless you select the Block Share Buttons option, the Comments page won’t load. I think something in the extension is hanging the outbrain widget unless the share buttons are blocked.

            1. 1.8.5 was the last stable version. I bumped it to 2.0 because I refactored pretty much everything. There are unfortunately bound to be a few issues, but it’s much more capable.

              I’ll look into the blocking iframes thing, although I haven’t experienced any problems myself (on or off).

      2. I’m updated to 2.0.3 and I don’t see any text controls or side info. Just the troll list and some other options.

        1. Uninstall and reinstall it. That did the trick for me

          1. Yup, it’s good now.

            1. Wait, no. It seems that when I change any options it removes the character count and side box…

            2. That stuff seems to be controlled by the alt text option. LOL.

              1. Fixed.

                It’s actually by the script getting confused when it didn’t find any extensions to run against the article (because you removed the only one, for alt text).

                2.0.4 it is, then.

  11. Aaand… this handle is now taken.

    I’m a little bit proud of myself.

    1. Did Jim Carrey ever learn to control the mask? If not, think about what you’re doing here… and about what kind of movies you watch the whole way through.

  12. By Kraken they certainly don’t give you a long enough name box.

  13. *barf*

  14. This article should have been titled:

    “Without email registration, we find ourselves at the mercy of the trolls…”

    1. Mercy of the troll. We really only had one. The one that Heller outed. And she is one crazy bitch.

  15. Testing…

    Gambol lockdown argle bargle

    …this concludes our testing.

  16. She will be back. But it will be harder I think. She might run off and think “ha I won, I forced them to register and proved what hypocrites they are”. But I doubt it.

    1. She’ll grief as much as she can, but she’ll be limited by the number of free email addresses she can get, but she’ll still be trolling. If they put a 24 hour hold on new registrations, that might be enough to keep her away.

    2. Does anyone have any idea what her problem is? Why the fixation on Reason and Libertarians?
      I think she is one of y’all’s ex wives or something.
      C’mon fess up, what perceived wrong is she trying to even the score on?

      1. I think she is legitimately mentally ill. For the longest time I figured she was some college student with a lot of time doing her bit for the cause by screwing over what she thought was a right wing site and that all of her stuff was just the product of a bored, immature kid.

        I was very disturbed when Heller outed her as a 50+ year old woman. She is not a dumb kid. She is just crazy. I don’t think it is anything personal about Libertarians or Reason. She is just a paranoid nut who happened to fixate on this site.

  17. The registration seems pretty simple to do, though.

    She could make up 100 email accounts, register them all, and let them get banned one at a time. Right?

    1. Right, and that’s what she’ll do. this should help, though, and at a minimum it’ll keep away some of the spammers.

    2. I would think so. But she is not the only nut in the world. Registration must make it harder. Otherwise, how to really big, controversial sites like KOS and Free Republic not get over run with nuts looking to destroy the boards? If Reason can attract the attention of one such person, a site like Kos or Free Republic must attract the attention of twenty or thirty. Yet, they are not overrun with this crap. So it must be somewhat effective.

      1. Otherwise, how to really big, controversial sites like KOS and Free Republic not get over run with nuts looking to destroy the boards?

        I would guess the nuts are the boards.

        1. Yeah Yeah. I know that. But the nuts are nuts like Tony. They are nuts on topic. I haven’t looked, but I assume they don’t have people who hijack every thread to post the same obsessive nonsense no matter what the topic.

          1. They probably get lost in the crowd.

          2. Speaking of Tony, Praise Jeebus that I’ll actually know when Tony is speaking. I’m not sure he’s even actually been on the board in the past 6 months or to. The posts just seemed too trolly.

    3. It will be a ratcheting action. If she does that, then they can gradually lengthen the time is takes for the register-bots to send out the URL link. Eventually the time will be long enough that even the craziest of the dumbasses won’t bother. And even if they did, then it still only once a day and only until someone notices.

    4. Yes, but I’m a bit of a convert here. I think if you use anything that can block names — whether it’s reasonable or INCIF or some home-brewed content script — it’s bound to be way more effective.

      Previously, she could change her name for every post. Now, that requires re-registering. There are some shortcuts for that, but it’s way more time-consuming.

      At the very least, it will cut down on the 200+-comment thread-shitting.

      1. That’s true, the combination of registration and Reasonable should be pretty devastating to her overall approach.

        Reasonable’s character count fucking rocks, BTW.

        1. And she may decide her mission is complete. She made the Libertarians build a fence and that proves what hypocrites they are and how silly their ideology is and find someone else to harass. You never know. There is no accounting for insanity.

      2. I think so. I am sure she will be posting under some dumb ass name. But as soon as she posts one of the four or five stock quotes from whatever bullshit academic about the joys of gamboling, hopefully that name and IP will be banned.

        She can still do damage, but it will be limited now.

  18. OK, who took STEVE SMITH?


    1. *barf*

      1. Don’t worry, you’re safe now.

        1. Quick, the good handles are going fast.

          1. And another handle I will happily retire forever.

            1. Please leave “rectal” open.

              1. someone else can have rectal, but this one is safe too

                some of us have long memories

  19. This is on my twitter timeline:

    Mike Riggs ? @MikeRiggs Reply Retweet Favorite ? Open
    Political journalists are often narcissistic assholes, narcissistic assholes are often political journalists:…..es_ok.html

    Stop tweeting Riggs, we want morning links!

    1. Hey Riggs…

      …don’t tweet Weigel.

    2. I think Riggs is probably still trying to figure out how to register.

  20. Amakudari, are the HTML buttons supposed to be gone now?

    1. They shouldn’t be.

      Try either updating the extension, or uninstalling and reinstalling.

      1. Did both, and they’re not there. Not really a big deal, though. Every other new feature is working.

        1. Yeah same for me.

          1. So this is strange.

            1. Using version 2.0.4?

            2. HTML helpers are visible at only the bottom of the page, when replying to a particular comment, both or neither?

            3. Character count and the sidebar (which includes history, most recent comments and a few commands) are both visible?

            One last thing you can do is right-click and select Inspect Element, then click the Console tab. If it has any error messages related to this extension (saying “chrome-extension://fdbllkba…” on the right) that could help. And of course, you can file bug reports through Google Code or GitHub.

            1. Now they magically appeared. Every feature but the HTML helpers was working before, and then I closed Chrome and came back and they were there. Odd.

              1. Huh.

                Well, glad it works, then. I hope heller’s situation is the same.

  21. I hope Hec registers.

    1. His anti-cat screeds were the stuff of legend.


        That’s you, right? I need to work on my anti-you screeds some more. But just you wait.

  22. Ok y’all, so how is the registration working out? Other than keeping the awful trolling down to a tolerable level, I hope nothing has changed.

    1. Disqus and facebook are coming…
      just you wait

  23. That dude jsut looks corrupt as the day is long lol.

  24. we find ourselves at the mercy of the bureaucrats to ensure that our local needs are fulfilled

    Maybe its not the business of the federal government to fulfill local needs?

    1. Exactly what I thought, but then these fuckers would NEVER agree to that, given how hard they worked to get up the ladder.

      To suddenly agree that maybe the local level is more appropriate is anathema to a power-tripping politician.

      Of course, they’ll then argue that with federal taxes so high, earmarks are a check on taxation without representation. See the preceding paragraph if you think they’ll do anything about federal taxes, though.

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