EARMARKS: WHO BROUGHT HOME THE BACON
April 15, 2010
Despite a deficit that's pushing $1.5 trillion, members of Congress slipped a whopping 9,100 pork barrel projects into legislation this fiscal year, according to the Citizens Against Government Waste's 20th annual "Pig Book."
"What it does is it buys votes," said Sen. Jim DeMint, R-S.C. "And if any senior member of our conference or this Congress wants to pass a bill, they use earmarks. They sprinkle them around like candy."
Here are some of the earmarks that made it into legislation this year:
- $5 million for the Presidio Heritage Center in California.
- $2.5 million for potato pest management and research.
- $1.4 million to study mosquito trapping in Florida.
- $1 million for Portsmouth Music Hall in New Hampshire.
- $800,000 for catfish genome mapping in Alabama.
- $206,000 for wool research in Montana, Texas and Wyoming.
For the third year in a row, Mississippi Sen. Thad Cochran ran away with the title of the biggest earmarker. The ranking Republican on the powerful appropriations committee snagged $490 million for 240 pet projects.
"He's what we call an unrepentant porker. He doesn't care what anyone thinks," said Tom Schatz, the president of Citizens Against Government Waste. "And he thinks that this is the way that he can get reelected."
But many lawmakers can't ignore the anti-spending sentiment sweeping the nation, says CBS News:
- House Democrats recently swore off earmarks to for-profit companies while House Republicans agreed to shun all earmarks for a year.
- The result: pork-barrel spending is actually down, from $19.6 billion in 2009 to $16.5 billion in 2010 - and nearly half of that spending was requested anonymously.
"I urge them to come out of the shadows and stand up and defend the projects that they've put forward, because the nation demands it and their constituents demand it," said Rep. Tom Price (R-Ga.).
Forty-seven members of Congress have vowed not to seek any earmarks ever. It's a start, but that's less than 10 percent of all lawmakers, says CBS News.
Source: Report, "2010 Congressional Pig Book," Citizens Against Government Waste, April 14, 2010; and Nancy Cordes,"Earmarks: Who Brought Home the Bacon," CBS News, April 14, 2010.
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