NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis


February 16, 2006

Members of Congress have developed the earmarking process into a fine art, skillfully asking for -- and getting -- dollars for specific local programs in their home states and districts without actually putting their names on the requests. Last year's mountain of earmarks -- 13,997 of them -- cost taxpayers $27.3 billion, says Citizens Against Government Waste.

Ideally, earmarks should be eliminated entirely. They are not legitimate federal expenditures. There are real people out there paying high taxes for goodies that others will avail themselves of, says Investor's Business Daily (IBD). For example:

  • The Alaska Fisheries Marketing Board has lapped up $30 million in federal money through the years.
  • One of its more worthwhile projects was to hand Alaska Airlines a $500,000 grant to paint a Chinook salmon on one of its Boeing 737s.
  • But Alaska has nothing on West Virginia, where the people, according to Citizens Against Government Waste, have been the recipients of more than $1 billion in pork.

After years of abusing its power to spend, Congress is finally feeling some heat from the public. It's time to hold lawmakers accountable, says IBD.

A good first step is Rep. Tom Prince's (R-Ga.) bill that amends House rules so that members who ask for earmarks will have to attach their names to the requests. Across the way, Sen. John McCain has introduced the Pork-Barrel Reduction Act, which has a provision that also requires the identification of lawmakers who propose earmarks. The remainder of the bill is an attempt to make it more difficult for Congress to slip through earmarks, explains IBD.

Source: Editorial, "Out on Their Ears," Investor's Business Daily, February 16, 2006.


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