PE – Earmark disgrace

Congress needs to end the practice of earmarking funds, a tactic that uses public money for political self-interest. Congress should be eyeing every penny the nation spends, not funneling money into dedicated spending that benefits politicians careers’ at taxpayers’ expense.

Even the prospect of record federal budget deficits has not curbed the practice of representatives earmarking money for pet projects in their districts. The watchdog group Taxpayers for Common Sense released an analysis last week that found 11,286 earmarks worth $19.9 billion in fiscal year 2009 spending bills. That organization and another watchdog group, the Center for Responsive Politics, have also created an online database that tracks earmarks and links them to lobbying expenditures and campaign contributions (find them at www.taxpayer.net and www.opensecrets.org).

Rep. David Loebsack, D-Iowa, helped land $217 million in earmarks in fiscal 2009, tops in the House. But his total is dwarfed by Sen. Thad Cochran, R-Miss., responsible this year for $1.2 billion in earmarks. Republican Roger Wicker, Mississippi’s other senator, was not far behind, with more than $1 billion in earmarks.

Press-Enterprise
8/15/9