Date registered: Aug 2002
Vehicle: 2021 SL770
Location: Fountain Hills, AZ
Mentioned: 1 Post(s)
Quoted: 544 Post(s)
Democrats should start their new record by banning earmarks
Democratic leaders in Congress say they will clean up and reform Congress, including the pork-barrel spending that ran out of control under the Republican majority.
Among her plans for the next session of Congress, incoming Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi has included a rule that will disclose all the earmarks in federal legislation.
That's fine. But it's hardly the effective step that Democrats could take. They could and should ban earmarks altogether.
Earmarks are projects tacked onto other bills. They "earmark" federal funds to go to specific projects in congressional districts. That way, the congressman who sponsored them for his district can brag about them.
Sometimes these earmarks make headlines. The "bridge to nowhere" became famous when Alaska's members of Congress appropriated $240 million to build a bridge to an island with a population of 50. And the nation paid attention when Mississippi senators allocated $700 million to move a railroad the federal government just spent $250 million to repair.
But most of the earmarks don't get that much attention. Instead, they collectively eat into federal spending priorities. Last year's transportation bill alone included 6,500 special-interest projects that cost a total of $27 billion.
The money that is spent on earmarks in a transportation spending bill takes away from the money that could be spent on national or state road-building priorities. Congress then has to appropriate more money, which hurts taxpayers, or it has to decide not to meet those priorities.
When the Republicans took over Congress in 1994, they promised to control this spending. Instead, they found they liked it. In 1994, more than 4,000 earmarks were enacted. There were about 15,000 passed last year.
Earmarks not only waste money, they are conduits for corruption. Former Congressman Randy "Duke" Cunningham repaid those who bribed him by sending earmarks their way.
Will Democrats end up the same way, busting the budget through these programs and being corrupted by them?
It would be a dramatic move that would prove the fiscal intent of the new majority if it banned earmarks completely. That would allow all federal spending to be determined by national priorities.
It would tell the nation Democrats are serious about balancing the budget and being good stewards of taxpayers' money. It would make them less likely to end up wallowing in the corruption of the 2006 Republicans and the 1994 Democrats.
Earmarks are to members of Congress as crack cocaine is to an addict. The answer is not to control them. The solution is to get rid of them.
"If spending money you don't have is the height of stupidity, borrowing money to give it away is the height of insanity." -- anon