September 13, 2006

Drunk on Earmarks: Obey's $6.9M in ONE Bill!

Wall Street Journal:
A case in point is the HHS-Education spending bill, which so far contains 1,867 earmarks at a cost of just under $500 million. Members tell us the bill has caused a mini-rebellion because two of the three largest earmarkers are Democrat Nancy Pelosi, who walks away with $7.9 million worth of goodies, and David Obey, the ranking Democrat on Appropriations who receives $6.8 million for his Wisconsin district. This is the same Ms. Pelosi who earlier this session pledged to give up her pork to help balance the budget.

The House GOP leadership finally seems to comprehend the stakes in this pre-election budget fight. Majority Leader John Boehner calls the anti-earmarking bill "must-pass legislation," and has agreed to separate it from a bottled-up lobbying-reform bill. All that can block this from passing now are the spend-happy Republicans on Appropriations. If they succeed, they will have inflicted a far greater wound on their majority than the Democrats ever could.
I've not heard back from Tammy Baldwin regarding her views on earmarks [see "Spreading the Love"].

Robert Reich says earmarks must go:
The number of registered lobbyists in Washington has ballooned to the point there are over 60 of them for every single member of Congress. And they spent $2.4 billion last year. What do you think the lobbyists bought with that money?

A lot of it's called "earmarks" — special spending that's stuck into pieces of legislation to benefit particular constituents, like that Alaskan bridge to nowhere in last year's highway bill, and the special casino licenses that got lobbyist Jack Abramoff into trouble.

Ten years ago there were about 3,000 earmarks. Last year there were over 14,000, costing taxpayers over $47 billion according to the Congressional Research Service.

Last January, after the Jack Abramoff scandal had spread to staffers of former House Whip Tom DeLay and Ohio Republican Bob Ney, and after FBI agents found an unexplained $90,000 cash in the freezer of Louisiana Democrat William Jefferson, and after former California Republican Duke Cunningham pleaded guilty to bribery — after all that — it seemed like the House was so embarrassed it would clean itself up. At least that's what Speaker Dennis Hastert promised.
Posted by James Zellmer at September 13, 2006 10:10 AM | Subscribe to this site via RSS:
Posted to Current Events | Politics | Taxes