TPA Leads Coalition of Watchdog Groups to Fight the Return of Earmarks

David Williams

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.

Here is the full text of the coalition letter:

April 11, 2012

Dear Representative:

On behalf of the millions of taxpayers our organizations represent, we write to express our serious concerns about comments made by Mike Rogers (R-Ala.) supporting the reinstitution of congressional earmarks.  According to a March 30, 2012 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.”  Let us be clear, any attempt to bring back earmarks would be fiscally irresponsible and be a slap in the face of taxpayers.

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.

In 2010, the House and Senate agreed to a two year moratorium on earmarks, yet there were reports of Congress backsliding on this promise – with earmarks being found in the fiscal year 2012 appropriations bills. 

The undersigned groups urge you to show fiscal responsibility and eliminate earmarks once and for all. 

David Williams                                                                                 Andrew Moylan 
Taxpayers Protection Alliance                                                National Taxpayers Union

Chris Chocola                                                                                    Grover Norquist
Club for Growth                                                                              Americans for Tax Reform                                                  

Jim Martin                                                                                          Tom Schatz
60 Plus Association                                                                       Council for Citizens Against Government Waste                                      

Mattie Duppler                                                                                 Seton Motley
Cost of Government Center                                                       Less Government

MacMillin Slobodien                                                                       Brian Baker
Our Generation                                                                                Ending Spending

Jeff Mazzella                                                                                       Ryan Alexander
Center For Individual Freedom                                                 Taxpayers for Common Sense

Ron Wall                                                                                         
Wasted America                                                                               WashingtonWatch.com