Government Spending

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

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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.