Last Updated:November 18 @ 07:54 am

Earmark Ban is a Powerful Step in the Right Direction

By Bobby Eberle

One of the lessons learned in the 2010 elections was that voters distrust Washington politicians. Americans think congressmen and senators are in it for the perks and the power, but not the people, and that is why the proposed ban on earmarks is such an important move for the newly empowered GOP. Voters want their legislators to represent them and act in the best interests of the country. What they don't want are politicians spending taxpayer money on ridiculous projects like research money to create the best pickled vegetables.

The GOP caucus in the House of Representatives has come together to propose a ban on congressional earmakrks -- those pork barrel projects that get written in by an individual legislator and which do not face specific up or down votes. This wasteful spending accounts for only a fraction of the annual federal budget, but the symbolism of this waste goes a long way. At first, Senate GOP leaders balked at the idea, but the writing is on the wall. If the GOP does not change the current course, if they act as a "business as usual" group of politicians, they will be out of power as fast as the Democrats.

As reported by, on Monday, Republican Senate Leader Mitch McConnell signed on to a two-year moratorium on earmarks. This action meant that the earmark ban proposal has GOP House and Senate support.

The move by the Senate GOP leaves Senate Democrats as the only faction of Congress in a position to try to save the practice -- and their position doesn't seem very strong, since it's difficult to see how Boehner and McConnell would allow any earmark-laden bills to pass.

Thus far, however, some Senate Democrats seem to be in denial.

"I have an obligation to the people of Nevada to do what is important to Nevada, not what is important to some bureaucrat down here (in Washington) with green eyeshades," Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., said. "So I am not going, personally, going to back off of bringing stuff back to Nevada."

That is the typical response that Americans showed they DON'T want. Going to Washington is NOT about "bringing home the bacon." It's about keeping the bacon at home to begin with! reports that most Democrats remained opposed to the idea of banning earmarks. If fact, only Democrat Sens. Claire McCaskill and Mark Udall have gone on record in support. McCaskill is teaming up with Republican Sen. Tom Coburn to force a vote in the Senate to determine where each and every senator stands on the measure.

"I don't think we'd be successful," McCaskill said. "There hasn't been a huge appetite yet on our side of the aisle to stop this process."

"They feel very strongly about having the prerogative of making funding decisions on an individual basis," McCaskill said of her Democratic colleagues. "It's a lot of power. And I think people are reluctant to give up the power to make a solitary, stand-alone decision on where federal money is going to be spent."

And what comes with that power? Answer... the ability to do some really stupid stuff. Here's some examples of past earmarks:

* $2 million for children's wooden arrow makers
* $1.9 million for the Charles B. Rangel Center for Public Service
* 3. $1 million for the New York Woodstock Museum
* 4. $192 million for the U.S. Territories' rum industries
* 5. $188,000 for the Lobster Institute at the University of Maine

And, of course, there is Nancy Pelosi's "non-earmark" earmark:

Credit should be given to Republican House Leader John Boehner for his stand on this issue. He knows what the November elections meant, and he knows this is the first step in restoring public trust in Washington.

Boehner: "House and Senate Republican leaders are listening to the American people, and are united in support of an earmark ban. An earmark moratorium shows that elected officials are serious about restoring trust between the American people and those who are elected to represent them. This is a strong first step - though only a first step - towards making the tough choices required to get our country back on track. We hope President Obama and Washington Democrats will show they are serious, and join us in this effort to restore the public trust.

Tougher choices will need to be made in order to really balance the budget, shrink government, and reduce the debt. But we must walk before we can run. The problem in the past was that no one was willing to walk.


Do you support the Republican proposal to ban earmarks?online surveys

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  1. Old BillComment by Old Bill
    November 17, 2010 @ 9:41 am

    It kinda makes a tingle go up my leg, I do believe they were listening and that they heard me back on election day. As the Maori in New Zealand say “good on ya mate”.

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  2. Mort_fComment by Mort_f
    November 17, 2010 @ 10:29 am

    East to say, hard to do.
    Look at every major DOD procurement, the prime contractor will have subcontractors in every state.
    Look at government research grants to universities, they are rarely if ever competitive awards.Earmarks by a different name.
    Maintaing, and improving, our transportation system. Loaded with earmarks.
    Funding the ‘Arts’. The Federal government has taken the place of the medieval ‘patron’.
    Some earmarks are obvious. The majority are much more subtle. Let us not forget Obamacare and the Education bills, they are loaded with ‘special treatments’. If those are not ‘earmarks’, I don’t know what are.

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  3. USNpopsComment by USNpops
    November 17, 2010 @ 11:19 am

    I never gave Earmarks a second thought until I drove down the Super Highway between Henderson Nevada and Harry Reids greasespot of a hometown Searchlight Nevada.
    Its as smooth as a baby’s bottom, and now with the Bridge across Hoover Dam, is going to have as much traffic as the you see at midnight on the Alaskan Highway.
    And the people of Nevada elected him again. Maybe! I’m sure that the SEIU maintained voting machines were not rigged in his favor.

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  4. cem_girlComment by cem_girl
    November 17, 2010 @ 12:57 pm

    Well said with talking points. I choose not to believe that you’re ignorant as to how government functions. You conflate earmarks with pork in the same sentence. You must realize that all States count on Federal dollars to compensate the States budget.
    How about an article on newly elected Congress persons opting out on Government paid Health care?

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  5. KerryEMTComment by KerryEMT
    November 17, 2010 @ 1:21 pm

    cem_girl, that is not what federal $$ are supposed to be used for. If some state wants to study ameoba farts or the mating habits of snails let that state fund it! Why should my tax dollars go to fund it????? Read your Constitution, specifically Article 1 Section 8.

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    November 17, 2010 @ 2:29 pm

    Great article Bobby.
    Banning earmarks, even though they represent only a fraction of the total budget, still amounts to saving hundreds of millions of dollars every year. Any and all government funding for projects should be subjected to open debate.
    I also believe that surreptitious and hidden earmarks, (defense contractors etc..) amount to billions of dollars anually.
    Seems on the surface, the people have spoken and House and Senate Republicans are listening, regarding banning earmarks. (pork)
    There are some things that are happening that makes me wonder if the beltway Pubs are really serious, or quietly pushing business as usual.
    I read the other day that some Republican House members are calling for a “secret vote” on the earmark issue.
    If the people’s will is being carried out, why a secret vote? If I were a Republican House or Senate member, I would want my no vote on earmarks, to be as public as possible.
    The solution to this is to make all our political leaders feel like they are working in a public display window, facing the street. Every move they make should be for all to see.
    It is the only way they can be held accountable for their actions. Even the new members. What goes on behind closed doors is never any good for the people.

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  7. JimWComment by JimW
    November 17, 2010 @ 2:51 pm

    The Senate is almost irrelevant, if the house passes a ban, since both houses must agree to all bills that become law after the President signs the bill, and Obumer claims to support a ban on earmarking.

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  8. JDZComment by JDZ
    November 18, 2010 @ 11:51 am

    The earmark issue may be small relative to the overall deficit and national debt, but the cost cutting and overall more conservative financial management has to start somewhere. Banning earmarks is step one in a journey (I say a journey because it is going to take years to get this situation under control) toward a more fiscally responsible and manageable federal government.
    As I have said before, those politicans and others working in Washington are going to resist any moves that requires them to give up anything. I actually do not think what has to be done to get control of our financial problems can be done within the Washington political arena alone. It is like expecting the fox to clean up the henhouse and leave the hens and eggs alone in the process. It is asking too much.
    What needs to be done to actually make some significant progress is to put together an independent team of experienced private enterprise experts on how to streamline and reduce the cost of operation of huge bureacracies (like government and large corporations) and empower this team to do an independent topdown/bottom-up survey of how the federal government is organized to do its job in all of its departments and to make recommendations on restructuring and streamlining in order to improve efficiency and reduce cost of operation.
    This team would need some high level government support personnel (like from the CBO or GAO or similar) to be a part of the team and to help gather documents and data.
    If it is not taken on by a team of experts outside of the government itself, we are not going to get the job done. There are too many “rice bowls” and special interest groups that manipulate both Congress and the administration. The Executive Branch itself under Obama has grown and is making changes that are adding more and more costs to the government(s) at large. Over 200,000 new federal government workers have been added since Obama was elected.
    So, I am skeptical that any major changes to how our government works can actually be accomplished by either party in a majority position unless the approach is much different then in the past.

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  9. bobnipComment by bobnip
    November 22, 2010 @ 10:11 am

    USAID is a Department within the Department of State ran by Hillary Clinton. Its function is to to disperse funds to foreign Countries for “projects” identified as benevolent undertakings in order to create international brotherhood and unity.
    Hillary plans, in 2011, to hire an additional 600 new staff at USAID. She says, “I want to see it become again the premier aid agency in the world.” You might remember Obama promised, in the 2008 election, to double foreign aid to $50 Billion a year by 2012. So, there is an intent to continue the bevy of expenditures at the expense of the American Taxpayer.
    The State Department list of “projects” includes 26 examples of funds going to fund construction, renovation, and rehabilitation of a number of mosques in foreign lands. The interesting thing is that many of the countries listed consider themselves an enemy of the United States. Those listed include Pakistan, Tunisia, Afghanistan, Benin, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Egypt, Tunisia, Tanzania, Uganda, Sudan, Serbia, and several others.
    Most Americans are oblivious to the fact that there is the U.S. Ambassadors Fund for Cultural Preservation (AFCP) which is also putting millions upon millions of dollars toward “heritage preservation” projects in several other countries. Obama has pledged to seek an additional $4 billion dollars for this fund for 2011 through 2013. That demonstrates a 38% increase over the previous three year period.
    So, why are we dumping billions of American Taxpayer’s money abroad? Simply, it is part of the transfer of wealth process you have heard Obama, Pelosi, and Clinton talk about. Using USAID as the vehicle disperses the money more rapidly.
    On a plane to Afghanistan in March of this year Clinton admitted that the billions directed there had shown very little results for the money spent. So, she warns her new staff members how important it is to “make sure that it is delivered effectively and that we can justify it.” Then, in a smug condescending manner she adds, “We owe it to the American Taxpayer. We can’t go to the guy who’s lost his job at GM and say, Oh, by the way, we are going to pay money to build a road here or inoculate a child there unless we can get them to believe it is in America’s interest.”
    Here we go again with the move toward a “One World Government.” You that lost your job at GM, how do you feel about your hard earned money being sucked away from you heading for foreign pockets? The New Congressional Leadership need to stop this lunacy.

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  10. bartComment by bart
    November 24, 2010 @ 10:00 pm

    hi everyone! re: bobnip and the 25B foreign aid budget. i know that thinking ‘a million here, a million there’ got us into this budget jam, but to put it in perspective, 25B=2.5% of a trillion, and we are currently about 13T in debt, so foreign aid=1/13 of 2.5% of our debt…about 2/10 of 1 percent. this means if you had a dollar, 1/5 of a penny would go to foreign aid.
    a lot of that money goes to american companies hiring american workers building things in those countries, so a lot of that money comes back to the usa.
    and at some level, demonstrating to other countries that we can do more than kick their *ss is cheaper and more american than just killing them.
    do you remember the boxes during the berlin airlift marked ‘USA?’ it made the communists mad, but germany is now one of our best friends. is that a bad investment of foreign aid? i don’t think so, though i know others might.
    to balance the budget we are going to have to do something drastic–just like in the household budget, we are going to have to cut costs (big ones–military, social security) or get more money (millionaire tax, anyone?)
    and i had inquired on an earlier post if anyone knew why taxing millionaires was a bad thing?
    it seems like their doing their fair share to pay for roads i drive on, or water systems i use, or paying for cops is a good thing. it doesn’t seem like our present tax system discourages people from becoming wealthy, we have more millionaires than ever.
    if anyone can explain those things without shouting or swearing at me, i would be sincerely grateful for the education.

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  11. JimWComment by JimW
    January 2, 2011 @ 7:53 pm

    ALL spe3nding measxures should be forced to stand on their own and be debated, not tucked into a larger legislative piece in the dark of night with no discussion.  Most of the worst earmarks couldn’t stand up to any scrutiny!

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