In a February 26 Associated Press article on the omnibus legislation passed by the "Democratic-controlled House" on Tuesday, David Espo reported that "Republicans assailed the legislation as too costly" and quoted Republicans criticizing the bill as, in the reporter's words, "bristl[ing] with earmarks." While Espo included examples of Democratic earmarks, at no point did he give any indication that many of the earmarks were included in the bill at the request of Republicans.
Moreover, Espo cited the Taxpayers for Common Sense as a critic of the earmarks in the bill, without noting that the group cited earmarks by both Democrats and Republicans.
While quoting Republicans attacking the bill for earmarks, Espo did not note a handout distributed on February 24 by House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-MD) titled "You can't spell 'earmark' without an 'R,' " asserting that "40% of the earmarks in the omnibus appropriations bill are Republican earmarks." The handout also stated that "[t]he earmarks in the omnibus appropriations bill total less than 1% of the budget," and that they "were reduced by 43% last year, and the omnibus appropriations bill reduces earmarks by another 5%."
"Republicans are continuing to try to sweep their history under the rug and convince the American people that they are committed to fiscal responsibility," stated the handout. "But their record on earmarks and the amount of earmarks contained in the omnibus appropriations bill make it clear that Republicans are just using this as another political ploy."
TPJ: The dirty little secret about earmarks is that most of them are justified. Anti-government types always single out one or two examples of outrageous earmark spending as if it represents ALL earmark spending. These Congress people are there to represent their districts and states to the federal government. This often means fighting for some of the federal dollars paid by their constituents to come back to them in the form of projects that hire people, keep them in a job or build something that will benefit the community through things like tourism.
People like to complain about a museum built in some state but you know what? Someone has to build that museum and that keeps people working, new workers are needed for that museum and those people spend money on products in their community and state, which helps keep the economy moving. You might say that the jobs are few and the spending little but if you live in small to medium city it makes a BIG difference. And it makes a BIG difference if you're one of the people hired because of it.
That said, I do agree that not all earmarks are justified but that doesn't mean that the whole process is bad. If Senators and Representatives didn't fight for investment dollars for their constituents then they're basically seat warmers with no purpose than to cast a vote now and then for or against a war or to honor some championship football team. I find it funny that many Republicans are supposedly for states rights and fighting for their security and prosperity to balance out the power of the federal gov't. However, at the same time they are against earmark spending that benefits those very states to be able to balance out the federal government. So they say, but as we see from these figures they fight for just as many earmarks as the Democrats do. I guess earmarks are o.k. for Republicans but not Demcorats.
And I want to emphasize this because the Republicans aren't mentioning any of this. The percentage of earmarks have been reduced. Plus, it only represents 1% of the overall spending bill but the Republicans are crying wolf as if it were the majority if not a super majority of the spending. When will the Republicans stop playing games and shoot straight with the American people to get our economy going again and not try and score cheap political points in Washington? At this point people don't care whether they get a job through an earmark or through the want ads--they just want and need a job.
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