Earmark Update

Clarice Feldman and Rosslyn Smith
Amid all the concern over Health Care Reform and Cap & Trade it is best not to lose sight of the issue that began the current protest against out of control spending -- the earmark process. 

According  to an analysis by the Taxpayers for Common Sense and Center for Responsive Politics earmarks in 2009 spending bills total $19.9 billion.  Earmarks in 2008 spending bills were worth $18.3 billion.

This increase comes despite the fact that both President Obama and Congressional leaders have talked about the need to reform the process.  Earmark projects often are featured in election years by incumbents to show they can deliver local projects. That earmarks have increased in a non election year after talk of reform is ominous.

Earmarks are provisions inserted in appropriations bills by members in order to fund specific projects. They are often used to by committee chairs and leaders to buy votes.  Many times the projects being funded were not considered a priority of the administering agency.  Sometimes they are even against the agency's wishes.  Thus they circumvent both the normal processes of administrative review and legislative hearings and debate.
Earmark critics have said that the practice increases pork-barrel spending and takes funds away from national priorities.

"At a minimum, earmarks granted to lawmakers' friends and supporters merit scrutiny and indicate potential conflicts of interest," said Sheila Krumholz, the executive director of the Center for Responsive Politics.

The full  study can be downloaded here. 
Amid all the concern over Health Care Reform and Cap & Trade it is best not to lose sight of the issue that began the current protest against out of control spending -- the earmark process. 

According  to an analysis by the Taxpayers for Common Sense and Center for Responsive Politics earmarks in 2009 spending bills total $19.9 billion.  Earmarks in 2008 spending bills were worth $18.3 billion.

This increase comes despite the fact that both President Obama and Congressional leaders have talked about the need to reform the process.  Earmark projects often are featured in election years by incumbents to show they can deliver local projects. That earmarks have increased in a non election year after talk of reform is ominous.

Earmarks are provisions inserted in appropriations bills by members in order to fund specific projects. They are often used to by committee chairs and leaders to buy votes.  Many times the projects being funded were not considered a priority of the administering agency.  Sometimes they are even against the agency's wishes.  Thus they circumvent both the normal processes of administrative review and legislative hearings and debate.
Earmark critics have said that the practice increases pork-barrel spending and takes funds away from national priorities.

"At a minimum, earmarks granted to lawmakers' friends and supporters merit scrutiny and indicate potential conflicts of interest," said Sheila Krumholz, the executive director of the Center for Responsive Politics.

The full  study can be downloaded here.