Blog

Taxpayers Protection Alliance
Facebook     Twitter     Youtube

Blog

Category: Earmarks



  • Rep. Hal Rogers: One Member Who Never Lost His Appetite for Pork (Part II)

    David Williams on June 1, 2012

    (This is the second part in a two-part series on Rep. Hal Rogers [R-Ky.].  Yesterday’s  blog exposed Rep. Rogers and his back door earmarks through the Department of Defense) Yesterday, the Taxpayers Protection Alliance (read blog here) showed that Rep. Hal Rogers (R-Ky.) has found ways to funnel projects into his district despite Congress’ earmark ban.  While the word “earmark” may have been struck from Washington’s vocabulary, it doesn’t mean the practice of “earmarking” money to a member’s district has ended.  Like the military drip pan example from yesterday, this one also involves a company in Rogers’ district, this time a uranium enrichment plant.  The United States Enrichment Corp. (USEC) has two facilities (one in Kentucky and one in Ohio) that were on the brink of failure without further government funding.  To that end, as Energy and Environment News (subscription required) reported, USEC itself freely admitted to the Department of Energy (DOE) that it “was considering halting its enrichment operations at the plant later this year because it doesn’t have enough commercial business to warrant operations...” [Emphasis added].  The source of funding for a uranium enrichment facility may not attract much interest, but the issue deserves much attention and concern.  At the heart of the matter is an attempt by Rep. Rogers to save roughly 1,200 jobs in his district by securing additional federal funding for the beleaguered plant.  While he justifies his request by citing national security concerns, in reality these federal dollars will be used for commercialization for a product that the market – by the company’s own admission – has not demonstrated a need for at this time. 

    » Read More
  • Rep. Hal Rogers: One Member Who Never Lost His Appetite for Pork (Part I)

    David Williams on May 31, 2012

    (This is the first part in a two-part series on Rep. Hal Rogers [R-Ky.].  Tomorrow’s blog will detail his involvement with the United States Enrichment Corporation) When Congress passed its earmark moratorium, there was good reason to think earmarks would become a thing of the past.  But as is now apparent, it was wishful thinking to ever believe that Washington could be capable of giving up pork, cold turkey.  The longer the period of addiction, the more difficult it is to end.  This is especially true since many members of Congress had become so accustomed to and so enjoyed these kickbacks that benefited their districts, and ultimately their campaign coffers.  One of the most adept practitioners of earmarking has been Rep. Harold Rogers (R-KY).  It’s no wonder then that Rep. Rogers confronted quite a challenge when Congress passed the two-year earmark moratorium.  But as the following example makes clear, when a member of Congress wants something bad enough, they figure out a way to make it happen.  Just like the addict in the rehab center determined to get his fix, so too are some members finding ways to sneak in earmarks hoping they go undetected.  On May 19, 2012, The New York Times exposed a specific example of waste and favoritism in earmarks benefiting Rogers’ district.  According to The New York Times, Hal Rogers arranged for the Army to purchase about “$6.5 million worth of ‘leakproof’ drip pans in the last three years to catch transmission fluid on Black Hawk helicopters.”  The cost to the taxpayer was $17,000 per drip pan compared to a similar pan from another company that costs only about $2,500. 

    » Read More
  • TPA Leads Coalition of Watchdog Groups to Fight the Return of Earmarks

    David Williams on April 11, 2012

    Today (April 11), the Taxpayers Protection Alliance led a coalition of dozens of watchdog groups (read letter here) to urge members of Congress to not bring back earmarks.  On March 30, 2012, Mike Rogers (R-Ala.) floated the idea to bring back earmarks.  According to a Reuters 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.”  Reps. Kay Granger (R-Texas), Louie Gohmert (R-Texas) and Steven LaTourette (R-Ohio) agreed with Rogers that earmarks should be re-institutionalized.  "You can't get 218 votes and part of that has to be if you can't give people (earmarks), you can't take anything away from them," said LaTourette.  These comments prove what most taxpayers already know: Earmarks are nothing more than legal bribes to buy the votes of members of Congress who don’t have the brains to think for themselves or the backbones to stand up for their beliefs.

    » Read More
  • House Republicans Talk About Bringing Back Earmarks

    on April 3, 2012

    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.

    » Read More
  • Washington’s Dirty Little Secret – Earmarks are Still Alive

    David Williams on February 7, 2012

    On December 20, 2011 the Taxpayers Protection Alliance (TPA) uncovered $3 billion in earmarks in the Defense appropriations bill (see full list here).  Last week, legislation (S. 1930, The Earmark Elimination Act) sponsored by Sens. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.) and Pat Toomey (R-Pa.) failed in the Senate.  Now, today, the Washington Post reports that, “Thirty-three members of Congress have directed more than $300 million in earmarks and other spending provisions to dozens of public projects that are next to or within about two miles of the lawmakers’ own property, according to a Washington Post investigation. Under the ethics rules Congress has written for itself, this is both legal and undisclosed.”  Even though most of the earmarks reported by the Washington Post were requested before the self-imposed moratorium in 2010, it shows a lack of understanding of how much taxpayers became frustrated with earmarks after the Bridge to Nowhere became a symbol of earmark largess in 2005.  Some analysts even believe that the Bridge to Nowhere and the increase in earmarks from 1995 to 2006 was a contributing factor to Republicans losing control of the House of Representatives in 2006.

    » Read More
  • TPA Urges Senate to Vote for S.1930, the Earmark Elimination Act

    David Williams on February 1, 2012

    Today, the Taxpayers Protection Alliance (TPA) urged the Senate to pass S. 1930, the Earmark Elimination Act.  Offered by Sens. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.) and Pat Toomey (R-Pa.), S. 1030 wold permanently kill earmarks.  Earmarks cost billions of dollars per year and are a corrupting force in American politics.  Even though the House and Senate imposed a two year moratorium on earmarks in 2010, TPA uncovered $3 billion in earmarks in the fiscal year 2012 Defense Appropriations Bill.

     

    » Read More
  • 2012 Defense Earmarks: The Rest of the Story - Abrams Tank Upgrade

    David Williams on January 9, 2012

    (The Taxpayers Protection Alliance will be investigating the individual earmarks in the 2012 spending bill in the coming weeks/months) Last month the House and Senate approved (and President Obama signed) a $1 trillion spending bill that included $3 billion worth of earmarks in the Defense section of the bill.  Looking through the list (read full list of earmarks here), the projects may not seem too controversial or look like the next Bridge to Nowhere.  The truth is that each earmark has a story.  The first earmark listed is $255,000,000 for the Abrams Tank Upgrade Program and has a story to tell.  The biggest mystery of the earmarks added to the Pentagon’s spending bill were the members of Congress who requested them.  Congress passed transparency legislation in 2007 (that went into effect in 2008) that required members to put their names next to earmarks.  This worked reasonably well for a couple years and then Congress decided to ban the process of earmarking all together by agreeing to a moratorium on all earmarks.  Even the most naive Congressional observer didn’t believe that Congress would give up their earmarks so quickly.

    » Read More
  • It is Time to Look at Every Agency for Spending Cuts

    on January 6, 2012

    President Obama and Defense Secretary Leon Panetta announced a new Defense strategy on January 5, 2012.  The new strategy involves hundreds of billions of dollars in cuts.  The mysteries in these cuts are the specifics.  According to the Austin Business Journal, “President Barack Obama and Defense Secretary Leon Panetta gave few specifics about program cuts at the U.S. Department of Defense [DOD] during a briefing Thursday on DOD’s strategy…”  This is problematic because as much as the Pentagon budget needs to be cut, it should be done responsibly with the Pentagon still having the ability to meet the defense needs of the country.  In addition to the Defense cuts, President Obama should also require all federal agencies to do the same and come up with target cuts.

    » Read More
  • A New Year Means New Challenges and New Opportunities

    David Williams on January 3, 2012



    When the 112th Congress took over in January, 2011, there was quite a bit of excitement and anticipation that the newly elected members (including dozens of tea party members) would be aggressive in demanding real spending cuts and accountability.  With a near-miss government shutdown in April, a debt ceiling scare in August and the failure of the super committee in November, last year was filled with missed opportunities to institute real spending cuts.  With the federal debt eclipsing $15 trillion in 2011, Congress has quite a bit of work to do in 2012.  In addition to the annual budget fiascos that are typical of Washington, D.C., there are seven key areas (Agriculture, Defense, Energy, the Food and Drug Administration/Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Tax Reform, Telecommunications/Technology, and Transportation) that will determine if Congress and the President are serious about bringing spending under control and having a more efficient government.

    » Read More
  • Congress Can't Resist Temptation to Add Earmarks to Spending Bill

    David Williams on December 27, 2011

    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.  One (of the many) New Year’s resolutions Congress should make is to truly ban earmarks and not be able to vote any piece of legislation that contains earmarks.

    » Read More
  • BREAKING NEWS: TPA FINDS EARMARKS IN DEFENSE APPROPRIATIONS BILL

    David Williams on December 20, 2011

    Today, the Taxpayers Protection Alliance (TPA) uncovered 89 earmarks worth $3 billion in the Defense Appropriations Bill that was part of the 1,200 page Omnibus Bill passed by Congress last week (click here to see the full list).  This discovery proves that even though members of Congress pledged to not fund earmarks they just can’t resist the temptation.  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.  All of the projects listed by TPA did not receive a budget request by the Department of Defense.

    » Read More
  • TPA Scores a Major Spending Victory! The Joint Strike Fighter Alternate Engine is Dead

    David Williams on December 2, 2011

    The Taxpayers Protection Alliance (TPA) (and taxpayers) have scored a major spending victory with General Electric (GE)/Rolls Royce announcing that they are giving up their efforts to build an alternate engine for the Joint Strike Fighter.  According to a December 2, 2011 article in Aviation Week, “The move comes after an Oct. 31 meeting between GE Aviation leadership and Deputy Defense Secretary Ashton Carter in which ‘it became clear that the [Defense Department] would not support the FET self-funding effort,’ says GE.”  TPA highlighted the wasteful alternate engine in an October 3, 2011 briefing on Capitol Hill and numerous press releases and blog postings.

    » Read More
  • Taxpayers Need to Watch Out for the Mini Bus Getting Ready to Run Them Over

    David Williams on November 16, 2011

    On Thursday November 17, 2011, the House of Representatives is expected to vote (FINALLY!) on a triad of fiscal year 2012 appropriations bills rolled up into one.  The three bills, Agriculture, Commerce/Justice/Science (CJS), and Transportation/Housing and Urban Development (THUD), are included in one bill (H.R. 2112) and is affectionately known as a “mini bus” spending bill.  While the bill is relatively free of earmarks, members of the House of Representatives should vote against the legislation.  There has been very little time for debate and a provision to allow the Federal Housing Administration (FHA) to increase its eligible loan limit to $729,750 is plenty reason enough to vote “NAY.”   According to Sen. Jim DeMint (R-S.C.), “Tucked inside the 401-page bill was language to increase the limits for which the Federal Housing Administration can insure mortgage loans up to $729,750, effectively allowing the agency to back McMansions with taxpayer dollars. Adding further insult to hard-working taxpayers an independent audit revealed, just hours later, that there is a “close to 50 percent” chance the agency would run out of money and need a taxpayer bailout.” Another reason to vote against the mini bus is that the spending levels are above the House-passed budget offered by Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wisc.) earlier in the year.

    » Read More
  • TPA Supports Rep. Flake to Keep Appropriations Process Open

    David E. Williams on October 17, 2011

    Yet again, Congress is behind schedule in passing appropriations bills.  Ok, let’s be honest, Congress is beyond late, and there is very little hope for an orderly process to resolve this problem.  There is already discussion about an omnibus appropriations bill.  An omnibus bill is one of those multi-thousand page pieces of legislation that contains multiple appropriations bills and could cost taxpayers hundreds of billions of dollars.  In order to bring some sort of sanity back to the fiscal year 2012 spending process, Rep. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.) is urging his colleagues to keep the process of crafting, and voting on, an appropriations bill “open.”  What this means is that Rep. Flake wants to make sure that there is an opportunity to offer amendments to the omnibus before it is voted on.  On October 14, 2011, the Taxpayers Protection Alliance sent a letter of support for Rep. Flake’s efforts.

    » Read More
  • Senate Appropriations Bill for Fiscal Year 2012 Contains Earmarks and Continued Funding for an Unnecessary and Expensive Program

    David Williams on September 27, 2011

    As the first group to uncover NASA earmarks in the 2011 Continuing Resolution for fiscal year (FY) 2011 and earmarks in the FY 2012 House Defense Appropriations Bill, the Taxpayers Protection Alliance (TPA) has found more earmarks, this time in the FY 2012 Senate Defense Appropriations Bill.  TPA has preliminarily found 62 earmarks worth $2.8 billion.  In addition, the Senate also funded the Medium Extended Air Defense System (MEADS).  In addition to the other problems with MEADS (click here and here), according to language in the Senate bill,  “The Committee is concerned with the historical management of the MEADS program and that it has taken the Department 3 years, following the 2008 program Preliminary Design Review, to conclude that with a production delay of at least 4 years and a U.S. investment of $1,160,000,000 required in addition to the $804,000,000 budgeted in fiscal years 2012 and 2013, the program was simply unaffordable. As such, the Committee echoes the concerns voiced in section 807 of S. 1253, the National Defense Authorization Act of Fiscal Year 2012, as reported.” The Senate Defense Appropriations Bill is funding unrequested earmarks and a project (MEADS) that the committee is concerned about.  Not a smart way to fund the Department of Defense.

    » Read More
  • EARMARK ALERT: TPA Finds Earmarks In Senate Energy and Water Appropriations Bill

    on September 12, 2011

    As the first group to uncover NASA earmarks in the 2011 Continuing Resolution for fiscal year (FY) 2011 and earmarks in the FY 2012 House Defense Appropriations Bill, the Taxpayers Protection Alliance (TPA) has found more earmarks, this time in the FY 2012 Senate Energy and Water Appropriations Bill.  Breaking their pledge not to earmark any appropriations bills, TPA has preliminarily found 24 earmarks worth $279 million that were put into the Army Corps of Engineers and Bureau of Land Management accounts.  It doesn't appear that Senate appropriators have gotten the message that taxpayers are fed up with earmarks.

    » Read More
  • TPA Uncovers More Earmarks - This Time in the Interior Bill

    David Williams on July 25, 2011

    The Taxpayers Protection Alliance (TPA) is always looking through spending bills for earmarks.  In fact, TPA was the first to uncover billions of dollars in earmarks for NASA and the Department of Defense.  Now, while Congerss thinks that taxpayers, and watchdogs, are distracted with debt ceiling discussions, they sneak in $498 million worth of earmarks in the House Interior, Environment, and Related Agenices Bill for 2012.  And, let's not forget, there is a self-imposed earmark ban. » Read More
  • TPA Uncovers $2.1 Billion in Defense Earmarks: Taxpayer watchdog group first to report violation of earmark ban

    David Williams on June 23, 2011

    The Taxpayers Protection Alliance (TPA) today uncovered 61 earmarks worth $2.1 billion in the 2012 House Defense Appropriations Bill, despite a ban on earmarks passed last year. TPA is the first to report these appropriated funds.  "I'm baffled as to why some of the funds are being included in a defense bill," said Williams. "It seems as though the defense budget has become the island of misfit earmarks. The American people need their leaders to take responsibility for their actions, cut wasteful spending, and fulfill their promise to end earmarks once and for all."


    » Read More
  • An Earmark By Any Other Name Would Smell As Porky

    on May 31, 2011

    Leading up to the election last year there was quite a bit of talk about eliminating earmarks from the federal budget so Democrats and Republicans agreed to a two year earmark moratorium.  Taxpayers weren’t sure if it was a just a ploy to get re-elected or if Congress had truly seen the light and decided that it was time to end the practice of earmarking.  In April, the Taxpayers Protection Alliance uncovered earmarks in the fiscal year 2011 NASA and Department of Defense spending bills indicating that Congress had not been broken of the bad habit of earmarking.

    » Read More
  • Transportation Funding Will Be A Big Challenge For Former Earmarkers

    David Williams on May 23, 2011

    After seven extensions to the last transportation authorization bill, the 2005 Transportation Equity Act: A Legacy for Users (TEA-LU), Congress is poised to pass a transportation authorization bill in 2011.   The recent talk about spending cuts and shunning earmarks will make this authorization bill even more interesting than previous ones.  A transportation authorization bill is important to enable the federal government to fund the transportation needs of the country.  Unfortunately, over the last 20 years, transportation authorization bills have been politicized and earmarked without regard to transportation needs.  A recent editorial by the new Chairman of the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure, Rep. John Mica (R-Fla.), is either good news for taxpayers or just more rhetoric.

    » Read More
<< 1 2 3 4 5 >>