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March 11, 2009
The Bipartisan Nature of the Other White Meat
Wonder who the biggest pig farmers are in the FY2009 Omnibus Bill pending in Congress? Here are several.
An earmark is an identifying brand on the ear of a domestic animal. The folks at the Taxpayers for Common Sense list the U.S. Senators with the biggest hog herds carrying their earmark brand. The top ten, by dollar amount, are:
1. Thad Cochran, Republican, Mississippi - $470,857,775 (204 solo & member earmarks)
2. Roger Wicker, Republican, Mississippi - $390,993,300 (143)
3. Mary Landrieu, Democrat, Louisiana - $332,099,063 (177)
4. Tom Harkin, Democrat, Iowa - $292,360,036 (177)
5. David Vitter, Republican, Louisiana, $249,182,063 (142)
6. Christopher Bond, Republican, Missouri, $248,160,991 (86)
7. Diane Feinstein, Democrat, California, $235,027,932 (153)
8. Daniel Inouye, Democrat, Hawaii, $225,077,157 (106)
9. Richard Shelby, Republican, Alabama, $219,398,750 (125)
10. Chuck Grassley, Republican, Iowa, $199,144,486 (119)
Earmarks have multiple sponsors. It’s the “You-scratch-my-hog-and-I’ll-scratch-your-sow” Principle. Or, the “Scratch Along to Get Along” Rule.
If you add in “presidential earmarks,” the Senators’ numbers move around as, for example, Feinstein’s total goes to the head of the list at $776,706,649. But then, she chairs the Senate Appropriations Committee; Thad Cochran is Vice Chair.
The best way to build a herd of earmarked hogs is to serve on the Senate Appropriations Committee. In this list above, only Wicker, Vitter and Grassley do not serve on that committee.
The Taxpayers for Common Sense folks also list the House earmarks, but the numbers are smaller. For example, the leading pig farmer, Cong. Mazie Hirono, Democrat from Hawaii, would only rank 24th on the Senate “solo and with other members” list. But then, the House has more members, so the total mounts handsomely.
Let no one blame the earmark phenomenon on any one political party. The other white meat is truly bipartisan. In fact, six of the top ten Senators listed above are Republicans. Oh, the solo earmark champion is Arlen Specter at 134, but they’re only worth $25.3 million total. Little piggies. And no solo earmarks for John Kerry.