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Understanding Earmarks

November 12, 2010

Understanding Earmarks…

Less than 2 weeks after the GOP’s midterms triumph, Republican lawmakers are now at odds over earmarks—specifically, whether to ban the practice through which members lard legislation with pork barrel projects.

In the House, John Boehner has never asked for earmarks and will institute a moratorium. In fact, there has been a one-year moratorium that ends in March but Boehner will not promise to end earmarks (video) moving forward. In the Senate, Mitch McConnell and Sen. Jim DeMint are headed for a showdown vote in the lame duck session on earmarks. The vote will be the first post-election test of Tea Party lawmakers’ ability to deliver on their hard-line campaign pledges. Odds are, DeMint will win the battle.

“No government ever voluntarily reduces itself in size.” ~ Ronald Reagan

Generally, an earmark is a provision inserted into a bill that directs funding to specific projects or recipients. They often get buried in huge appropriations bills. The GOP Establishment tells us banning earmarks won’t amount to real savings. Yet, they fight like hell to keep them. Why? If they’re so insignificant, why are earmarks defended so vigorously? Because for one, earmarks are a tool used to perpetuate & grow the power of incumbency. Of the 178 Republican House members, only 39 did not have earmarks in the omnibus. Of the 256 Democrat House members, only 3 did not accept earmarks.

Earmarks account for something like 0.002 percent of the Federal budget. The problem with earmarks is not their nominal costs; it is that they are used as bribes to obtain majority support for vastly more expensive and expansive legislation. The congressional leadership in both parties, to keep discipline in the ranks uses them. To reward those that goes along with the program; earmarks are used to buy off business and special interests groups in member districts for later campaign contributions and support.

An earmark is a way to avoid scrutiny for projects from the normal committee review procedure. They are a major tool of the corrupt system that has created our current mess. They need to be gotten rid of, period. For example, take a bill about increasing benefits to veterans. The Dem’s throw some other bullshit in the bill that’s totally outrageous and not germane to the bill. When the GOP votes it down because of earmarks the Dem’s scream that the GOP is against helping veterans. Earmarks merely force monies to be spent on specific projects that a particular congressperson wants. They are a perversion of the budgetary process used to reward cronies and donors.

No more sticking something completely unrelated into a bill to hide it from the public. Earmarks are those pesky little things that are slipped into a bill in the dead of night and never voted on. Rand Paul has stated he won’t do that. He stated if Kentucky needs a new bridge etc, he would request funds on the floor of the Senate.. in the light of day and have it voted upon.

Consider this: Obamacare would have died in the Senate without the Cornhusker Kickback. The horse-trading of earmarks was also the way Pelosi convinced congressmen whose constituents were opposed to Obamacare and the Stimulus to nonetheless vote for those monstrosities. The concept is called logrolling, to which earmarking is critical in buying support for legislation it otherwise would not garner. If Congress wants to spend money for a specific item, let them put it through the budget process and vote on it in a single bill.

On one side, the argument for a moratorium on earmarks means one of Obama’s cronies will decide where money is spent instead of legislators. But, all expenditures should be spelled out in the budget document within the baseline budget. If the congress wants specific work done, say so in the budget and force the congress to vote on its inclusion. The more specific the budget can be, the less the administrators will have leeway to mess with it and reward Obama cronies. Rather than a perversion of the budgetary process, Congress specifically designates in the legislation that passes through committee where the appropriated monies are to be spent and in what certain way.

“Earmarks” simply assume that each and every legislator has as much power and authority as the entire legislative body, and a right to exercise it. Consider that for a second. It does that because it denies that the entire body has a right to reject them, on principle. Earmarks work on the principle that by everyone in the legislative body agreeing to not question the right of anyone to THEIR earmarks, they are disenfranchising the obligations of the entire body, and granting the power that ONLY belongs to the entire body, allowing each of the individuals, to use by their sole discretion. Earmarks are a political tool.

Lets not forget that earmarks are already paid for. They are native to every state and every congressman. How could they say they did anything for their state without earmarks? They are used to buy votes of senators or representatives who are holding out against a piece of legislation. Hey, we’ll let you put in this or that sweetener for your constituents if you’ll then vote for my bill.

Senator Inhofe claims that the Senate would be ceding power to the Executive, which is a lie. “The Senate”, that is the entire Senate HAS that power. What Mr. Inhofe is actually asking is that the Senate cede the use of its full power to each and every individual Senator, where their mere one vote (earmark) determines a matter of the government’s expenses. We have reached a point where Congressman “A” does not challenge the earmark of Congressman “B” and vice versa.

It’s nothing other than an old-boys-club atmosphere by which the legislators cede to themselves the right to single-handedly use the power of the entire body. They get away with it by agreeing to all ‘do it’. It needs to be outlawed. Earmarks are the Senate’s way of getting around that pesky old Constitution. Read the constitution! The congress should introduce CONSTITUTIONAL spending bills ONLY! No pet projects for congressmen, senators, states and or local governments.

An earmark is a way to avoid scrutiny for projects from the normal committee review procedure. It sounds good to say ending pork and earmarks, but the goal is to mitigate corruption too. They don’t get it. They won’t, until the guillotine kisses the backs of their necks. Earmarks grease the wheel for bad spending. It fuels greater and bad spending.

Key takeaway: It’s not the cost of the earmarks; it’s the cost of the bills that will be passed due to votes BOUGHT by those earmarks. It’s about bribing us with our own money, it’s about vote-buying, corruption and the arrogance people loathe about Washington. Earmarks are symbol of everything that’s wrong with Washington’s bipartisan elite ruling class. The problem with earmarks is they influence congress people to vote for bills they otherwise wouldn’t vote for.

It’s the corrupting influence of money.

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