Earmarks need to go, here are two examples to show why.
Earmarks are provisions that provide funds to specific named projects or recipients without any public hearing or review. Earmarks are hidden in legislation that typically has nothing to do with the piece of legislation, causing issues with transparency and accountability.
To pass Obamacare, Rep Stupak and 10 of his closest friends were able to add $3.4 Billion in earmarks, after all 11 had previously stated they would vote no. The requests by the 11 equal as follows:
• Rep. Costello of Illinois.: $1,418.7 million ($256.4 million in 2010)
• Rep. Ortiz of Texas: $618 million ($726.1 million in 2010)
• Rep. Stupak of Michigan: $578.9 million
• Rep. Driehaus of Ohio: $332.2 million
• Rep. Kaptur of Ohio: $294 million ($305.7 million in 2010)
• Rep. Dahlkemper of Pennsylvania: $236.8 million ($54 million in 2010)
• Rep. Oberstar of Minnesota.: $207 million ($226 million in 2010)
• Rep. Ellsworth of Indiana.: $115.4 million ($82.3 million in 2010)
• Rep. Wilson of Ohio: $84 million ($62.3 million in 2010)
• Rep. Kanjorski of Pennsylvania.: $67.1 million
• Rep. Donnelly of Indiana: $19.8 million ($11.65 million in 2010)
In the above example, I believe the earmarks were more like “Pay for my vote”!
Earmarks are also great ways for Representatives to gain support during elections and appear as though they’ve been bringing home the “pork” at the expense of Americans across the country. God forbid our Representatives do their job and create legislation that encompasses spending on similar projects across the country, allowing for planning, transparency and accountability.
Rep Hank Johnson requested and awarded the Gwinnett Village Community Improvement District over $1 million to heighten economic development, relieve traffic congestion and revitalize the Jimmy Carter Boulevard area.
Oh yea, earmarks are also used as “tools” to help steer support during an election. Prime example and direct quote from the Gwinnett Village CID after I commented on Hanks lack of support for all the CIDs over the past two years –
“I spent a considerable amount of time on the phone yesterday with Congressman Johnson’s office who was very upset with the quote in the GDP made by Liz Carter concerning CIDs in Gwinnett.…Although this was cleaned up after numerous phone calls yesterday and has actually turned into a positive for us, … As you may or may not be aware, we have spent a lot of time fostering a relationship with the sitting Congressman (including expending funds for a lobbyist in DC) …. We even have several pending earmarks that this comment almost jeopardized.”
Yes, I’ll be accused of the “sour grape” attitude with the above example, but I’m a firm believer in transparency and accountability. Why is a community improvement district that is collecting a voluntary tax from business owners to “improve their business district” receiving monies in “earmarks” instead of legislation specific to infrastructure and revitalization that encompasses all similar types of spending and can be reviewed by the public and accounted for by the public. We all know Georgia is behind in transportation, but we will continue to be if we have fragmented efforts. Shouldn’t a CID be working through the State for transportation issues? Need more sarcasm… I love that Georgia received over $14 million to conduct yet another study for high speed rail between Atlanta and Chattanooga.
So, if you like your tax dollars being spent on special pet projects that make your Representative “look good” in his district, instead of doing their job and being accountable for every tax dollar spent… well, I guess you don’t mind earmarks. For me, I believe ever dollar should be accounted for and spent in a transparent way. I believe our Representatives need to create legislation that clearly articulates purpose and cost. In business, we plan and account for every penny – it’s time the Federal Government does the same thing.
End the earmark abuse and we are one step closer to transparency and accountability. Put the ban on, change the process and realize “because it is, doesn’t mean it has to be”.
A message to the GOP Leadership- 2012 is two short years away, do what is right, not necessarily easy. The earmark moratorium should be a top priority.