Environmental Working Group. Wisconsin’s Ron Kind ranks 37th @ 264,820,105 and Tammy Baldwin ranks 61st @ $140,993,229.
Audrey Hoffer takes a useful look at Wisconsin politician’s use of earmarks to further redistribute federal income taxes – otherwise known as pork:
Earmark is a dirty word.
That’s the tacit message of Taxpayers for Common Sense, which describes itself as a progressive nonpartisan budget watchdog.
An earmark is a project in their district for which members of Congress designate funds. Earmarks often are awarded without public hearings or other congressional debate over their merits. Congress inserted 12,881 earmarks worth $18.3 billion into this year’s spending bills, according to the watchdog group.
While some taxpayers and their representatives decry earmarks as boondoggles and wasteful government spending, others defend them as a way to accomplish important objectives while bringing jobs and benefits to their constituents.
Taxpayers for Common Sense 2008 Earmark Database.
Wisconsin political earmark (deficit) spending:
Herb Kohl $153,438,700
Russ Feingold: $0
Dave Obey: $102,137,950
Steve Kagen: $24,547,700
Tammy Baldwin: $16,443,500
Tom Petri: $12,999,000
Ron Kind: $11,433,000
Gwen Moore: $7,482,300
Paul Ryan: $5,396,000
Jim Sensenbrenner: $932,000
It would be interesting to compare campaign contributions to earmark recipients.
Hoffer closes with these quotes:
Steve Ellis, vice president of Taxpayers for Common Sense, said: “It’s really easy to isolate an earmark and say it’s a good thing, but if we do that, we miss the overall context. It’s a zero-sum game. We need to make sure we spend every penny wisely.”
Obey has his own reservations about the system and said last summer on the “Bill Moyers Journal” television show:
“The reason I hate earmarks is because they suck everybody in. They suck them into the idea that we have to be ATM machines for our districts, and so they focus on the tiny portion of most bills that are earmarks instead of focusing on the policy that is represented by the legislation that we produce.