NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis


March 6, 2009

Taxpayers for Common Sense (TCS) has been going through the omnibus to pull together a total number of earmarks and dollar amount.  It found 8,570 disclosed earmarks worth $7.7 billion; when you add the $6.6 billion in disclosed earmarks that were in the 3 spending bills that passed in the fall you end up with $14.3 billion worth of disclosed earmarks in fiscal year 2009. The apples-to-apples comparison from 2008 yielded $14.8 billion, so there was a $500 million reduction in disclosed earmarks between 2008 and 20909.

Below are a few examples of the earmarks in the omnibus:

  • $143,000 to the Las Vegas Natural History Museum to expand natural history education programs and $951,500 to the program Sustainable Las Vegas.
  • $190,000 Buffalo Bill Historical Center (Cody, WY) for digitizing and editing the Cody collection.
  • $238,000 for the Polynesian Voyaging Society (Honolulu, HI) for educational programs.
  • $381,000 for Jazz at Lincoln Center (New York, NY) for music education programs.
  • $713,625 Woody Biomass at SUNY-ESF, $24,000 A+ for Abstinence, $300,000 Montana World Trade Center, $950,000 Myrtle Beach International Trade and Convention Center and $200,000 Oil Region Alliance.

A big disparity between TCS's number and the Appropriations Committee number ($3.8 billion) is that the Committee chooses not to include earmarks from project-based accounts in their totals, despite the fact that they were not requested by the administration. 

Furthermore, even though TCS can only provide numbers for disclosed earmarks, they have been doing earmark analysis for many years and found a lot of "looks like earmark, talks like an earmark" provisions in the bill.  For instance, last year TCS found billions ($3.5 billion) of undisclosed earmarks to go with the earmarks disclosed by the committees ($14.8 billion). This number will take a lot more digging to figure out.

Source: Editorial, "$7.7 Billion In Earmarks In 2009 Omnibus Spending Bill," Taxpayers for Common Sense, March 4, 2009.


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