House Republicans Talk About Bringing Back Earmarks

On March 30, 2012, Reuters published an article “House Republicans discuss reviving earmarks,” that some taxpayers thought was an early April Fool’s Day joke.  According to the article, “In a closed-door meeting with fellow Republicans, [Mike] Rogers recommended reviving a proven legislative sweetener that became politically toxic a year ago.  Bring back earmarks, Rogers, who was first elected to Congress in 2002, told his colleagues.”  He was not alone. “Rogers' remarks in the closed caucus meeting in early March were echoed by two other Republican lawmakers, Representatives Louie Gohmert [Texas] and Kay Granger [Texas], according to some at the meeting.”   The sad truth is that Rep. Rogers (et al) said what many Republicans (and Democrats) have been thinking.

In 2010, Congress agreed to a moratorium on congressional earmarks.  Taxpayers and small government advocates cheered the moratorium but also understood that a moratorium is only that, a moratorium, and not a complete ban on earmarks.  Politicians wanted to leave themselves some wiggle room just in case.  That is why Senators Pat Toomey (R-Pa.) and Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.) sponsored S. 1930, the Earmark Elimination Act, which is intended to permanently kill earmarks.

S. 1930 is necessary because earmarks still exist.  When Congress passed the multi-thousand-page Omnibus spending bill right before their Christmas vacation, they forgot to tell taxpayers about the earmarks hidden in the bill. The Taxpayers Protection Alliance (TPA) uncovered 89 earmarks worth $3 billion in the Defense section of the bill (click here to see the full list) despite the insistence of both political parties that that the bill was free of earmarks and the claim that Congress stuck to their self-imposed ban on earmarks.  Government watchdogs and taxpayers had very little opportunity to scrutinize the spending bill since it was released early Thursday (12/15) morning and voted on Friday (12/16) afternoon.  The initial links to the legislation only contained legislative language and not report details.  The release of the conference report details occurred after votes by the House and the Senate.  This was a shameful lack of transparency and fiscal responsibility.   What was more disappointing is that Congress showed some bit of fiscal restraint in the bill, but the inclusion of earmarks shows that the temptation of earmarks will always be present. 

Earmarks have been the bribery currency of Congress for many years, as both parties used them to buy votes, bring federal dollars to their district and ultimately get re-elected.  Former members of Congress including Randy “Duke” Cunningham (R-Calif.) were sent to jail for accepting bribes to secure earmarks.  Disgraced lobbyist Jack Abramoff also spent time in jail in connection with earmarks promised to clients.  The notorious “Bridge to Nowhere” earmark became a national symbol of government waste.  Unfortunately, our nation’s history is now full of examples of wasteful spending due to the practice of congressional earmarking.  Some of the most egregious examples include:  $50,000,000 for an indoor rain forest in Iowa; $500,000 for a teapot museum; and $100,000 for the Tiger Woods Foundation.

Earmarks circumvent established budgetary processes and procedures and further exacerbate taxpayers’ cynicism of Washington, D.C.  Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) has called earmarks “the gateway drug to spending addiction in Washington.”  The current $15 trillion national debt is partly due to Congress being more concerned about earmarks than the financial well-being of the country.

Rep. Rogers should reconsider his declaration and realize that any backsliding on earmarks would be fiscally irresponsible and be a slap to the face of taxpayers.

« back

No comments yet.

Leave a Comment

Select the Categorie(s) you want to subscribe to:

Recent Posts

Dodd-Frank's Dire Legacy: The Durbin Amendment
07/31/2015 at 07:29 am - Iain Murray

Highway Bill No Place to Revive Crony Ex-Im Bank
07/28/2015 at 07:57 pm - Michi Iljazi

Congress Can Chip Away At Harmful Obamacare Taxes
07/28/2015 at 07:25 am - Michi Iljazi

TPA Signs International Coalition Letter on Protecting Intellectual Property Rights
07/27/2015 at 07:03 am - Michi Iljazi

TPA Signs Coalition Letter Reaffirming Support for Patent Litigation Reform
07/24/2015 at 09:27 am - Michi Iljazi

North Carolina State Lawmakers Support FCC Legislation from Senator Tillis
07/22/2015 at 04:21 pm - David Williams

Congress Should Oppose the Local Radio Freedom Act
07/21/2015 at 07:04 am - Michi Iljazi

No Chaos or Calamity with Ex-Im Expiration
07/19/2015 at 11:56 pm - David Williams

We Told You So: Ireland to Extend Plain Packaging to Alcohol
07/17/2015 at 08:04 am - David Williams

Push To Stop Corporate Welfare And Cronyism Must Extend To T-Mobile
07/15/2015 at 07:40 am - Drew Johnson

Follow Us in Facebook Follow Us in Twitter Youtube Facebook Twitter Youtube