“Super Thad” brings in most earmarks

Congressional earmarks for projects – such as funding for wood utilization research and a tri-state peanut research project – increased by 14 percent to $19.6 billion since last year, a new report reveals.

Citizens Against Government Waste, a watchdog group critical of pork-barrel spending, released a summary, called the Pig Book, of congressional earmarks at a news conference Tuesday. The group was accompanied by two of its “porcine pals,” Dudley and Winnie, who spent the morning chewing rice cakes and rolling a tiny pork barrel with their snouts in a meeting room at the National Press Club.

Tom Schatz, the group’s president, said that taxpayer outrage has grown steadily in the past year because of Congress’ approval of the $700 billion bank bailout, the $787 billion stimulus bill, the $110 billion Omnibus Appropriations Act and the $3.6 trillion budget.

“Despite repeated claims that earmarks have been reduced, the Pig Book belies that claim,” he said. “Sadly, the hard numbers from the 2009 appropriations bills tells a different story.”

The book reveals that more than $7.8 billion in earmarks are orphans – no member of Congress has admitted sponsoring them. Recent reforms require members of Congress to report earmarks. However nearly 40 percent of all earmarks lack sponsors’ names.

Earmarks are amendments to spending bills that usually benefit specific projects and do not go through normal budget review.

Sen. Thad Cochran, R- Miss., reported more than $650 million for earmark projects such as research of dietary supplements, mosquito trapping and for the Interstate Shellfish Sanitation Conference. He was the recipient of “The Super Thad Award,” for being the senator with the highest value in earmarks.

Five Senators reported no earmark spending: John McCain, R-Ariz., who campaigned against them last year; Tom Coburn, R-Okla.; Mark Udall, D-Colo.; Claire McCaskil, D-Mo.; and Jim DeMint, R-S.C.

Langer said as many as 2,300 tea party rallies will take place in cities around the country, noting that Sacramento and Atlanta groups are expecting large turnouts. In Washington, the rallies will take place at two locations – the Treasury Department and Lafayette Park, across from the White House.