Citizens Against Government Waste is
an excellent source of information about government waste. Until recently
I had so much of their information on this page that it ballooned into quite an enormous
production. To make this page load faster, the CAGW material has been moved
here. If the topic of
wasteful spending is important to you — and I hope it is — please check
out the CAGW page as well as this one.
has come early — thanks to Congress! Tax deal sees presents for NASCAR, horse racing and more. The new tax
break bill being heralded on Capitol Hill this week is said to be a triumph of bipartisanship, an example of a new era of
congressional leadership and a return back to the old ways of Washington. All of which is true. Instead of cherished
Republican goals such as cutting the deficit and curbing spending — which have marked the past several tax packages
passed in recent years — the new deal would expand the federal deficit.
Group 'Empower Texans' Faces Political Persecution. According to a lawsuit filed in Travis County, Texas,
Empower Texans is a 501(c)(4) nonprofit that was organized in 2006 to build support for strong fiscal stewardship by the
state government, and to inform Texas voters and taxpayers about how their government officials are acting in relation to
that objective. In 2007, for example, Empower Texans mounted a direct mail campaign asking voters to call on their state
legislators to return a $13 billion tax surplus instead of spending it on more government programs. This kind of activity,
along with its legislative scorecard, apparently angered not just state legislators, but lobbyists who make their living convincing
the state government to spend money on their clients' pet projects.
Guns, Butter and Budgetary Baloney. The
budgetary device called the Overseas Contingency Operations account, or "war fund," started off as a supplemental appropriation to fund the military response
after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. But it quickly became a slush fund that allows policymakers to spend gobs of money with little
oversight and fatten the Pentagon's base budget when the spending caps are put into place, seeing as OCO funding is exempt.
Congress Still Burying Earmarks In Bills. Congress banned earmarks in 2011, but crafty congressmen found ways to sneak nearly
$5 million worth of the special interest spending projects into 2015 appropriation bills, according to a congressional watchdog.
A new report made public Sunday by Citizens Against Government Waste argues that earmarks never really went away, despite the 2011 ban,
they just got harder to find.
kills infamous 'bridge to nowhere' that helped put end to earmarks. Alaska officials have put the final kibosh
on the infamous "bridge to nowhere" — a $400 million project tucked into the federal transportation plan 10 years
ago that became the symbol of Washington pork, spawned massive voter outrage and forever changed the way the government does business.
State officials concluded late last month that the project was too expensive and too extravagant for now, bringing to an end a 40-year push
by locals in Alaska's far southwestern corner to construct a permanent link between the city of Ketchikan and the airport that serves it.
Ryan's House Sets the Stage for Next Highway Bailout Boondoggle. The House plans to consider a $325 billion 6-year
highway bill that will require an $85 billion bailout through FY 2021. Where will they find the $85 billion in
savings? The same place the found the $112 billion in "offsets" to fund the budget betrayal deal last week. In other words,
they will use Enron-style accounting and an array of intangible offsets to pay for another bailout of the failed and inefficient federal
transportation system. But what is most offensive about this bill is that, by reauthorizing federal highway programs for another
6 years instead of 2 or 3 years, this bill will preemptively sabotage the leverage of the next president to force critical
policy changes in the system.
company tops list of US corporate welfare hogs. The federal government has quietly doled out $68 billion through 137
government giveaway programs since 2000, according to a new database built by a nonprofit research organization, Good Jobs First.
It identified more than 164,000 gifts of taxpayer money to companies. [...] A report the organization released today [3/17/2015], "Uncle
Sam's Favorite Corporations," shows that big businesses raked in two-thirds of the welfare. The most surprising and tantalizing
finding is the identity of the biggest known recipient of federal welfare. That dubious honor belongs to Iberdrola, a Spanish
energy company with a reputation for awful service and admissions of incompetence. It collected $2.1 billion of welfare
on a $5.4 billion investment in U.S. wind farms from coast to coast.
on Road to Ruin With Highway Bill. Later this week, the highway trust fund officially
runs out of money unless Congress authorizes more funding for roads and bridges. But the bill that
is being pushed by Democrats and some Republicans is starting to look like a Republican Party Dunkirk
that could infuriate conservative voters and even wind up costing the GOP the 2016 election.
The $320 billion six year public works funding bill would raise government spending, increase
taxes on businesses and possibly provide a new lease on life for the corporate welfare queen —
the Export-Import Bank. This happens every time a highway bill comes up for a vote.
Republicans toss out their fiscal conservative credentials and line up for the pork.
Funding Battle Brings Out the Worst of Washington. Simply stated, the congressional
committee system generally encourages bad decisions. If you want to understand why there's no push
to scale back the role of the federal government in transportation, just look at the role of the
committees in the House and Senate that are involved with the issue. Both the authorizing
committees (the ones that set the policy) and the appropriating committees (the ones that spend the
money) are among the biggest advocates of generating more revenue in order to enable continued
federal government involvement in transportation. Why? For the simple reason that allocating
transportation dollars is how the members of these committees raise campaign cash and buy votes.
Pork' report flags projects that survived earmark ban. From a railroad theme park in Pennsylvania
to a science center in San Francisco, a range of earmark projects have lived on long after the kind of earmarks
that spawned them were banned, according to a new report released Thursday [6/11/2015] called "Jurassic Pork."
Riffing off the release this weekend of the latest "Jurassic Park" film, the report from Sen. Jeff Flake, R-Ariz.,
lists what he calls "fossilized" projects. They pre-date the earmark ban but still are collecting money to this
day from other taxpayer sources.
The Problem of
'Honest Graft'. Political corruption is a major problem in our government. We
waste hundreds of billions of dollars every year on projects and programs that benefit narrow,
well-placed factions over the public interest. Given our country's persistently weak economic
growth as well as the federal government's structural deficit, waste of this kind is particularly
pernicious. Moreover, it saps public confidence from our democratic institutions; for a
government that derives its legitimacy from the consent of the governed, this is a worrying
Of The Year'. CAGW, a non-profit dedicated to eliminating government waste, gives the
award annually to the lawmaker, government official, or political candidate who has shown the most
"blatant disregard" for taxpayers that year. [Senator Elizabeth] Warren won over six other
candidates with 34 percent of the vote in a public online poll. She won the award because in 2014
she suggested the USPS fix its financial troubles by rebranding itself as a bank. If USPS offered
basic bill paying, check cashing and small loans, it could make enough money to provide those services and
shape up its finances.
'Modest Proposal' Would Erase 18% Of The Federal Budget. Roughly one-sixth of the
federal budget goes for nothing that's a matter of national concern, but for grants to state and
local governments. Those grants fund a vast array of programs and projects, such as:
• $65 million so New York and New Jersey can promote themselves as "good places to do
• $3.9 million for the airport in St. Cloud, MN, which has no
daily commuter flights.
• $532,000 to beautify one block on Main Street in
Rossville, KS (pop. 1,150).
defense bill is littered with nonsense. Just in time for Christmas, a massive $577 billion
defense-authorization bill headed for a vote in the Senate next week is packed with goodies that have nothing
to do with national security. One provision pushes forward a National Women's History Museum in Washington,
DC — long advocated by Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-Manhattan). Also tucked in the bill are pet
projects that would establish a Harriet Tubman national historic park in Auburn, NY, and study the creation
of federal historic sites in Queens, Brooklyn and Manhattan.
1,324 of 1,648-Page Defense Bill Mandates 'Legislative Plan' for National Women's History Museum. If
you scroll all the way to page 1,318 of the 1,648-page National Defense Authorization Bill that the House Republican
leadership posted online at 10:32 p.m. on Tuesday night [12/2/2014] you will find the beginning of the section
that creates a federal commission to develop a plan to build a National Women's History Museum. On page 1,324,
the bill mandates that this commission "shall" give Congress a "legislative plan of action" to contruct the museum.
The plan for the museum commission has been criticized by conservative women's groups and leaders who believe it will be
tilted toward a feminist, pro-abortion vision of American women — and that it will promote such figures as eugenicist
Margaret Sanger and cost-free-contraception health-insurance entitlement advocate Sandra Fluke.
Political Elites Can't Believe Voters Turning Against 'King Of Pork' Cochran. One
liberal professor in particular is perplexed by the concept. "It's the strangest thing I've ever
seen," Professor Marty Wiseman tells the [New York] Times. "It defies logic or reason for
somebody to not only run on cutting off the supply of federal money to Mississippi, but to actually
be winning the race."
Cochran runs in Mississippi as king of corporate welfare. When the Republican Party
deviates from its limited-government talk, it's almost always at the bidding of Big Business. And
in these cases Mississippi Sen. Thad Cochran almost always sides with Big Business. Cochran, the
six-term Mississippi senator, has suddenly become the underdog in his re-election. The Republican
primary has gone to a runoff after Cochran and conservative challenger Chris McDaniel both finished
with 49 percent of the vote.
Cochran: 'I Think Earmarks Have Gotten A Bad Name'. Sen. Thad Cochran (R-MS) suggested
to National Public Radio (NPR) he would like to bring earmarks back to Congress. "I think earmarks
have gotten a bad name," Cochran told the national radio outlet for a piece it published on the race
between Cochran and state Sen. Chris McDaniel for the GOP nomination for the seat. Cochran said if
Congress isn't allow to earmark spending, then federal agencies have more authority over how to
spend the money.
try to sneak corporate welfare agency OPIC through the House. Republican leaders are trying quietly to reauthorize
a corporate welfare agency this week, using a few opaque words slipped into a bill providing foreign aid to Africa. The
Overseas Private Investment Corp. is a federal agency that subsidizes U.S. companies investing in foreign countries —
such as Ritz-Carlton building a hotel in Turkey. OPIC provides a taxpayer backstop for the banks and the developers in
case anything goes wrong.
earmarks is the last thing Congress should do. Three unexpected stories have appeared in the news
recently concerning the earmark ban approved by Congress in 2010 following a long campaign led by Sen. Tom
Coburn, R-Okla. In the first, under a headline proclaiming that "pork is back on the table in Mississippi,"
National Journal's Alex Roarty reported that "a pair of Republican candidates — Sen. Thad Cochran
and former Democratic congressman-turned-GOP challenger Gene Taylor — are embracing the now-banned
practice sometimes labeled pork-barrel spending, using it not only to bolster their own campaigns but to cudgel
Under GOP Control, Congress Signals Unwillingness to Stop Spending. Actions speak louder than words, and Congress' actions
over 113th session demonstrate a bipartisan unwillingness to get runaway federal spending under control. An early indication was
Congress's actions on the Hurricane Sandy bill, a bloated, $50 billion pork-barrel spending bill that was ostensibly intended to
help northeastern states recover from the storm. Due to its dubious emergency designation, spending in the bill didn't count
against the spending caps put in place by the 2010 Budget Control Act. Consequently, opportunistic Members of Congress from
both political parties seized the chance to attach tens of billions of dollars in pet-project spending to the bill, using it as a
vehicle to side-step the caps.
The Privileged People. During
the "fiscal cliff" negotiations that Congress and the media made sound so tough — as if every last penny were pinched —
Congress still managed to slip in plenty of special deals for cronies. NASCAR got $70 million for new racetracks. Algae
growers got $60 million. Hollywood film producers got a $430 million tax break. When America's going broke, how do
moviemakers get a special break? By lobbying for it.
the pork-filled $956 Billion Farm Bill. The federal government pays for a $15 million 'wool trust fund,' runs a $170 million
program to protect catfish growers from overseas competition, sets aside $3 million to promote Christmas trees, funds another $2 million to
help farmers sell more sheep, and plunks down $100 million researching how to get Americans to buy more maple syrup.
Omnibus spending bill stuffed
with Pentagon pork. Celebrated as a bipartisan victory, the omnibus bill Congress approved Thursday is yet another example of
lawmakers' propensity for overspending. The massive $1.1 trillion spending package funnels more money that it should to defense
and other domestic projects. Following the outline set by the Ryan-Murray plan, the bill spends above the levels set by the 2011 sequester
and wastes loads of money on special interests. Although the proposal increases spending across the board, the big winners of this bipartisan
spending orgy are the Pentagon and the military-industrial complex. Thanks to Congress' willingness to renege on its commitment to cut
spending through sequestration, the Department of Defense won't be subjected to the cuts that had been planned for the next two years.
No more funding for
official portrait paintings. Congress' spending bill funds the National Endowment for the Arts, but one art project finally
is getting cut off: the official portrait paintings of presidents, Cabinet secretaries and high-ranking members of Congress. For
the first time, the bill bans taxpayer money from financing official portrait paintings, many of which can't even be viewed by the public.
That is one of a number of "policy riders" that negotiators attached to the massive bill, most designed to tweak Obama administration policies on
items including coal and incandescent light bulbs.
Sugarplum time. The expired breaks are a bag of
sugar plums offered as a reward to the industries with the most persuasive lobbyists. They include $12 billion over a decade in credits for
windmills, a $2 billion annual subsidy for things like two- and three-wheeled plug-in electric "e-bikes," and $75 million in incentives for
Hollywood producers to film in the United States instead of Canada and other tax-friendlier foreign locales. The giveaways include $50 million
in accelerated depreciation to speed construction of NASCAR racetracks, a rum excise-tax rebate for Puerto Rico that dates from 1917 and a $250 deduction
for teachers who pay for school supplies out of their pockets.
McConnell of putting 'Kentucky Kickback' in bill. A conservative group is accusing Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) of
including an earmark for a water project in the deal to end the government shutdown and raise the debt ceiling. The Senate Conservatives Fund
tagged the provision the "Kentucky Kickback," and said it would benefit the Olmsted Locks and Dam, which is under construction on the Ohio River
between Kentucky and Illinois. "In exchange for funding ObamaCare and raising the debt limit, Mitch McConnell has secured a $2 billion
earmark," the group wrote in a statement. "This is an insult to all the Kentucky families who don't want to pay for ObamaCare and don't want
to shoulder any more debt."
McConnell-Reid Deal Includes $2 Billion Earmark for
Kentucky Project. A proposal to end the government shutdown and avoid default orchestrated by Republican Leader Mitch McConnell and
Democratic Leader Harry Reid includes a $2 billion earmark for a Kentucky project. Language in a draft of the McConnell-Reid deal (see
page 13, section 123) provided to WFPL News shows a provision that increases funding for the massive Olmsted Dam Lock in Louisville from
$775 million to nearly $2.9 billion. The dam is considered an important project for the state and region in regards to water traffic
along the Ohio River.
Budget deal includes $174K payout to
widow of millionaire senator. Buried inside the budget deal brokered by Mitch McConnell and Harry Reid: a payout to the millionaire
widow of the late Democratic senator Frank Lautenberg. [...] USA Today reported last month that the proposed one-time payment to Bonnie Englebardt is
equivalent to a full year's salary for a senator. It's a long tradition of Congress to make such expenditures to widows.
Surprises tucked in Senate debt bill.
The legislation released by the Senate late Wednesday to reopen the government contains several surprises. The bill includes extra funds to fix
flooded roads in Colorado, a $3 million appropriation for a civil liberties oversight board and a one-time payment to the widow of Sen. Frank
Lautenberg (D-N.J.), who died over the summer. It also includes an increase in authorization for spending on construction on the lower Ohio
River in Illinois and Kentucky. The bill increases it to $2.918 billion.
Pelosi on pork project: 'What
difference does it make?' House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi Thursday [10/17/2013] said she can't answer for why pork-barrel items
snuck into the debt and spending bill that passed Congress late Thursday, but said the press should stop focusing on that and instead look at the
broader debt fight.
$174,000 to a
Senator's Widow and Other Surprises in the Fiscal Compromise Bill. There are some interesting nuggets inserted into the bill designed to
re-open the government and avert a default, which the U.S. Congress passed Wednesday night. As pork goes, these are low-level on the outrage scale,
such as a death benefit for Sen. Frank Lautenberg's widow — a line item buried on page 20 of the 35-page bill.
A Kentucky kick-back? Mitch McConnell is taking
criticism for a provision in the Senate compromise bill that allocates [actually raises the cap for what can be allocated later] almost $3 billion
for a project the Minority Leader previously has backed for a dam and lock project on the Ohio River. The dam project reportedly would benefit
Kentucky as well as Tennessee and Illinois. As Eliana Johnson reports, this provision has been characterized as the "Kentucky kickback."
Shutdown Deal Includes Pork-Barrel
Spending. The compromise deal to reopen the government and avert a default on the nation's debt, set to be approved by both houses of
Congress Wednesday evening, is not without pork. It includes nearly $2.8 billion for dam project previously backed by Senate miority leader
Mitch McConnell and a $174,000 payment to Bonnie Englebardt Lautenberg, the widow of late New Jersey senator Frank Lautenberg.
The Editor says...
The cream puff for Senator Lautenberg's widow (who could apparently get by without it) is the second-worst kind of pork barrel spending, because it
benefits only one person. The worst kind, of course, would be spending that benefits nobody.
Olmsted Dam Supporters Defend $3 Billion for
Kentucky Project in McConnell-Reid Deal. Pushing back against criticisms that's it's a "kickback" for Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell,
business leaders in Western Kentucky are defending efforts to pay for the Olmsted Dam and Lock in the bill ending the government shutdown. The language
in the McConnell-Reid deal increased the funding cap on the project from $775 million to $2.9 billion, which conservative critics blasted as a
so-called "Kentucky Kickback" earmark.
Goodies Make Bad Budget Deal Even Worse.
The budget deal failed to stop the train wreck that is ObamaCare, ignored the nation's entitlement crisis and kicked the debt can down the road. But
lawmakers did manage to take care of their own.
'What difference does
it make?' Pelosi says of extra spending in shutdown deal. Americans shouldn't think much about the various appropriations in the bill to reopen
government, according to House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., even though she wished the spending measures weren't in the bill. "This was
consistent with what would be in a continuing resolution," Pelosi told reporters when asked about extra measures such as a death benefit for the widow of the
late Sen. Frank Lautenberg, D-N.J., and earmarked spending for a Kentucky dam.
Senate Democrats block reopening of NIH,
national parks. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid on Thursday [10/3/2013] blocked a House bill providing funding to reopen national parks
amid the government shutdown, saying he would not allow the GOP to pick and choose from among favored programs and insisting the only way out is to pass
all spending at the same time. Republicans tried to get an agreement in the Senate to restore the parks money along with funding for the National
Institutes of Health, the military reserves and National Guard, and veterans affairs, but Democrats objected to each of those agreements in turn.
The Editor says...
Big omnibus bills are the most effective way to conceal and pass pork-barrel projects through Congress. The only purpose for the all-or-nothing
strategy is obfuscation. The Republicans' approach is the authorization of one inocuous item at a time, which would be an easy way for both parties
to agree on programs that everybody likes. At some point, however, the Democrats would have to vote on specific budget items that not everybody
favors, like PBS, a bridge to nowhere, Obamaphones, or lifetime food stamp benefits. If those votes were to take place, we would all have a list
of who's in favor and who's opposed to specific wasteful programs, and the entrenched establishment politicians in both parties can't
withstand that kind of scrutiny.
The National Science Foundation:
Under the Microscope. Very few of the proposals submitted for NSF financial support represented transformative scientific research
according to most grant reviewers surveyed. Taxpayers may also question the value of many of the projects NSF actually chose to fund, such as:
How to ride a bike; When did dogs became man's best friend; If political views are genetically pre-determined; How to improve the quality of wine;
Do boys like to play with trucks and girls like to play with dolls; How rumors get started; If parents choose trendy baby names; How much housework
does a husband create for a wife; and When is the best time to buy a ticket to a sold out sporting event.
Kickback: Reid, Heller Slip Las Vegas Tourism Handout into Immigration Bill. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) and Sen. Dean Heller (R-NV)
have inserted a provision that amounts to little more than a handout to Las Vegas casinos into the repackaged immigration reform bill, Breitbart News has learned.
This provision, a brazen example of crony capitalism, was inserted into the immigration law enforcement section of the bill despite the fact that it has nothing
whatsoever to do with "immigration" or "law enforcement."
Why is a
conservative group opposing spending cuts? President Obama's budget this week proposed $50 billion in new infrastructure
funding. [...] Republicans have always been unreliable on reducing federal spending. GOP politicians will crow about bloated budgets
and dangerous deficits but then load spending bills with parochial pork. Republican talk of spending cuts almost always leaves the
defense budget sacrosanct, with highway spending also receiving special treatment.
Obscene Government Waste:
• Rep. Tom Coburn (R-OK) is a leading budget hawk who identified programs to
fund a space ship to another solar system, funds for advancements in beef jerky from France, and $6 billion
for research to find out what lessons about democracy and decision-making can be learned — from fish!
• While you're trying to figure out how to pay your 2012 taxes, give a thought to the National
Science Foundation $350,000 grant to Perdue University researchers on how to improve your golf game.
• Not to be outspent, the National Institutes of Health gave a $940,000 grant to researchers who
found that the production of pheromones in — wait for it — fruit flies, declines over time.
Turns out that male fruit flies were more attracted to younger female fruit flies.
Investing in Bad Science. The federal government
expends vast amounts of money on "research" of innumerable kinds. Many of these expenditures are unwise and unwarranted, falling into the
category of pork or overlapping with work that would otherwise be performed by private-sector entities. Public funding for scientific
research should largely be limited to basic scientific discoveries or proof-of-principle experiments — which would reasonably be defined
as public goods — rather than efforts to extend science into marketable technologies or products.
New York Fires
Auditor Who Found Abuse of Federal Hurricane Sandy Funds. No good deed goes unpunished in New York as the state has abruptly cut
off a contract with the independent auditor who found that the city and state had been wasting federal money meant to be spent on Hurricane Sandy
recovery efforts. Thomas Sadowski, the fired consultant, told the Times Union that he was escorted out of the building when he visited the
New York Office of Emergency Management shortly after he filed his report on November 17.
The 'Sandy Relief' Bill Passes. It's a
$50.7 billion bill with $17 billion in actual Sandy relief. Two thirds of the money in that bill has [nothing] to do
with Hurricane Sandy.
Pork in the Hurricane Sandy bailout bill:
Sandy Republicans Pig Out. For
instance, $17 billion was for "Community Development Block Grants," boondoggle spending that usually benefits political activists
rather than average citizens. Alaska fishermen several thousand miles away from Hurricane Sandy would have gotten $150 million.
There was $8 million for cars and equipment for the Departments of Homeland Security and Justice. The Veterans Administration
would collect $207 million for its Manhattan Medical Center. There was $2 million to repair a roof at the Smithsonian
Institution in Washington and $58.8 million for private forest restoration. Almost $11 billion was targeted for
future public transportation construction and maintenance.
Pork In U.S. Senate Bill To Aid Victims of Hurricane Sandy Is Shameful. Highlights include:
• $8 million to buy cars and equipment for the Homeland Security and Justice departments.
• $10.78 billion for public transportation, most of which is allocated to future construction and
improvements, not disaster relief.
• $17 billion for wasteful Community Development Block Grants (CDBG), a program that has become notorious
for its use as a backdoor earmark program.
• $197 million "to... protect coastal ecosystems and habitat impacted by Hurricane Sandy."
• $41 million to fix up eight military bases, including Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.
• $4 million for repairs at Kennedy Space Center in Florida (because Florida is so close to New Jersey, right?)
Who Would Dare Veto the Sandy Bill?
In the late 19th century we had a president empowered by the same Constitution we have now, who felt its limitations mattered.
Today's politicians, judges, academia and mainstream media are unashamed to openly defy the Constitution, circumvent it, or declare it
outdated and irrelevant — while at the same time seeking to publicly shame those who strive to adhere to it, or at the very
least hesitate to spend what our treasury doesn't hold.
Should Your Children
Pay for My Rollercoaster? The criticism of the Sandy Bill to date has been about the pork the Senate larded into
it: the $150 million for fisheries as far away as Alaska; the $2 million for unrelated repairs at the Smithsonian;
the $50 million in subsidies for tree planting on private properties; the $336 million for AMTRAK without any real plan
for how the money will be spent. What we should be questioning, however, is the money spent on direct Sandy relief, especially
since we don't actually have the money to spend.
Compromise with a Side of Pork. Republicans
expressed dismay at the amount of excessive spending in the fiscal cliff deal that Congress passed Tuesday evening. "The
Senate loaded this up with pork," said Rep. Darrell Issa (R., Calif.) Wednesday during an appearance on the Laura Ingraham show.
"This bill was filled with both tax extenders and spending." The spending included an extension of unemployment insurance while
the tax breaks include subsidies for electric scooters and wind turbines.
Piles the Pork into Hurricane Sandy Relief. The millions of dollars for projects unrelated to recovery from Hurricane
Sandy included in the Sandy relief act is the latest in a long line of examples of politicians using emergency spending bills to fund
pet projects. "You're at the end of the Congress, and there's always an interest in attaching anything you can to bills that are
going through the Capitol Hill station," said Steve Ellis, vice president of Taxpayers for Common Sense. "This is one of the
last trains going through the station."
Some Hurricane Sandy aid diverted to
Gulf Coast in D.C. deal to gain Senate votes. A bill to provide $60.4 billion in disaster aid to Northeast states ravaged by
Hurricane Sandy has been quietly amended to divert some of the money to Gulf Coast states recovering from a much smaller storm. Democrats
made the changes last week to win the support of enough Republicans to guarantee Senate passage, sources told the Daily News.
Pork for Christmas. All eyes are on the fiscal-cliff
negotiations to trim the $1 trillion-plus budget deficit. Running alongside but largely out of public view is a $60.4 billion emergency spending
bill to provide relief to the victims of superstorm Sandy. Trouble is, the "Sandy" bill is laden with billions of dollars of spending stowaways wholly
unrelated to the hurricane. Did anyone really think earmarks would stay buried?
Senator 'Pleased' to Include
$200 Million in Pork Projects in 'Sandy Bill'. Senator Mark Begich, a Democrat from Alaska, is "pleased" to include more than $200 million
in pork spending in the Sandy legislation, a bill meant to help those affected by Hurricane Sandy. [...] Conservative groups have encouraged elected
officials to vote against the bill because of the pork projects.
$60.4 billion Hurricane Sandy aid bill is stuffed with pork for NASA, museums, Alaska fisheries and more. President Obama's proposed $60.4 billion
federal aid for victims of Hurricane Sandy has been revealed stuffed with millions in spending for museums and NASA with portions sent as far from the Northeast's
destruction as Alaska. Now dubbed the 'Sandy scam' by its critics, only a portion of the federal funding goes directly to states and victims hardest hit by
superstorm Sandy in New Jersey, New York and Connecticut.
to send new rover to Mars in 2020. Most missions to Mars have failed, although there have been a handful of successful projects,
including the Pathfinder, which landed in 1997 and the Spirit, which landed in 2004 and roamed the surface for six years before contact was
lost. The $2.5 billion nuclear-powered Curiosity is designed to hunt for soil-based signatures of life on the Earth's nearest
neighbor and send back data to prepare for a future human mission.
The Editor says...
How many Martian probes do we really need? There have been multiple robotic probes sent to Mars already, and they have all landed in
exactly the most favorable spots to "find evidence of life" or to "pave the way for manned missions" to Mars, etc., and they have all found
nothing but sterile dirt. Every Mars mission is called a success, even if nothing is found. The Martian probe business is a
classic example of multi-billion-dollar pork that benefits almost no one in this country.
Green War. The Department of Defense has launched more green energy initiatives than any other federal
agency and many are duplicative and wasteful, according to a report released Thursday [11/15/2012] by Sen. Tom Coburn (R., Okla.). The Coburn report details
nearly $68 billion in defense spending that appears to have little to do with national defense and instead focuses on issues ranging from beef jerky to studies of
flying dinosaurs. Included in the report is $700 million in green energy initiatives.
Reid blocks government funding bill
to aid in Montana Senate race. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) is holding up the final vote on a spending measure that will prevent
a government shutdown unless Republicans agree to vote on a massive package of bills designed to help a Montana senator in a tough reelection fight.
Sugar Daddy in Chief. [Scroll down] And Obama has
repeatedly over the past several months used his executive authority to reward certain key constituencies, a process
sometimes referred to as "vote buying." Here are five prominent examples: [#1] $12 million in
transportation funding for Ohio. Several days before a scheduled campaign event in Ohio last week, the Obama
administration announced the release of more than $450 million in unspent high funds to various states as part of
the widely mocked "We Can't Wait" campaign. Ohio is set to receive more than $12 million for transportation and
Obama uses green pork to push the swing states:
Nuclear's Dilemma: Few Jobs, Just Energy.
Last week, Environmental Entrepreneurs, a trade group, announced that wind and solar projects around the country had created 34,409 new jobs
around the country in the second quarter of 2012, with high concentrations in California, Michigan, Ohio, Florida, and Colorado.
A carefully timed pork barrel project:
White House holds 'We Can't Wait' funds for
almost four years. The administration has waited three years and seven months to implement a new "We Can't Wait" project that redirects
unspent appropriations to fund new construction projects. The wait delayed the spending announcement until 11 weeks prior to the November
election. The announcement is part of the administration's "We Can't Wait" effort, which highlights the president's authority to change spending,
law enforcement priorities and regulations, independent of Congress and the courts.
Obama OKs old earmark for highway projects.
The Obama administration will free up $473 million in unspent "idle earmarks" to allow states to spend the money on highway projects immediately, Transportation
Secretary Ray LaHood said Friday [8/17/2012]. The unspent money comes from congressional pet projects that were written into four spending bills from 2003 to
2006. But the money was never spent — either because of an error in writing the bill, because the project could be completed without it, or because
the earmark wasn't big enough.
redirects $470M in 'idle' earmark funds to highway projects. The Obama administration said Friday that it would use $470 million in unused
money earmarked by members of previous Congresses to pay for new transportation projects. The White House said the money comes from appropriations
bills that were passed by lawmakers from 2003 to 2006. Since taking over the House in 2010, Republicans have banned earmarks, and have touted the fact
that the recently approved $105 billion transportation bill did not include any.
HUD Gives Taxpayer Funds to Rich Indian Tribes. Last week the U.S.
Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) announced its giveaway of taxpayer monies — calling them "competitive grants" — in the
amount of $56 million to "tribal communities" around the country, saying that the funds will be used to "develop viable communities including rehabilitating
housing or building new homes or to purchase land to support new housing construction."
CAGW's 2012 Pig Book includes discussion of earmarks such as
$8,000,000 for Global HIV/AIDS prevention
$5,000,000 for the Starbase Youth Program
$3,000,000 for aquatic plant control
$38,522,000 for the high intensity drug trafficking areas program
$48,500,000 for the National Domestic Preparedness Consortium
$3,388,000 for national fish hatchery system operations
$114,770,000 for the United Nations Democracy Fund
$5,870,000 for the East-West Center in Hawaii
$5,009,000 for the International Fisheries Commission
$9,980,000 for assistance to small shipyards
$6,000,000 for a small community air service development program
A $90,000 federal grant — that's a lot of spinach.
algae, now spinach to be green energy source. President Obama recently touted algae as a potential source of
energy, and now the Environmental Protection Agency has invested in converting spinach into an energy source. The EPA
awarded a $90,000 grant over the weekend to Vanderbilt University students "who designed a biohybrid solar panel that substitutes
a protein from spinach for expensive silicon wafers that are energy intensive to produce, and is capable of producing electricity."
Sends Millions of US Dollars to Kenya — Where His Socialist "Cousin" Is Prime Minister.
While visiting Kenya as a guest of the government Obama campaigned for socialist Raila Odinga, who claims he is
Obama's cousin. Odinga's opponents said Odinga was using Obama "as his stooge."
Sees Spike in Obama Administration-Funded Projects. Kenyan businesses lately are increasingly becoming
recipients of U.S. government largesse, as the Obama Administration, among pursuing other endeavors, aims to expand
"livestock-related economic opportunities" in that nation. Although this and other recently released presolicitation
notices for unrelated programs serve as advance alerts to potential vendors — and therefore do not offer cost
estimates and other details — a review of U.S. government contracting actions nonetheless indicates a spike of
activity in Kenya in a variety of sectors.
No sugarcoating this giveaway.
When lawmakers with a stake in Big Sugar talk about the federal program that props up their pet industry, they invariably sugarcoat the bitter facts.
Consider this wad of marshmallow from U.S. Sen. Kent Conrad, the North Dakota Democrat whose state is a big sugar-beet producer: "There is no cost to
the government at all from the sugar program." Why, yes, the government bears no cost. But American consumers do.
Industry Raking in Iowa Subsidies. The alternative energy industry has found a reliable benefactor in
the form of the Iowa legislature, which between 2003 and 2010 gave most of the state's economic development subsidies
to biofuels firms.
Return if GOP Porkers Get Their Way. Proving they've learned nothing from lessons of the past, some House Republicans
are pushing to bring back the wide-scale use of earmarks to Congress. These pigs in elephants' clothing want to end a three-year
moratorium on earmarks and start trading pork projects for votes in order to pass legislation, even though their big spending,
earmarking ways during the George W. Bush era cost them dozens of elections.
Sen. Levin tries to legislate a parking
place. The same month that Michigan Democratic Sen. Carl Levin bought his first electric car, he sponsored legislation
to establish battery recharge stations in the Capitol complex's parking areas. The bill would give the Architect of the Capitol
(AOC) the authority to provide recharging stations for electric vehicles in Senate parking lots. Levin introduced the bill in
April of last year, the same month he purchased his Chevy Volt.
WaPo: 33 Members of Congress Earmarked $300 Million For Projects That Benefited Their
Own Private Property. Borrowing a page from Breitbart editor Peter Schweizer's investigation of how
elected officials funnel taxpayer dollars to projects that increase the value of properties they own, the Washington
Post has conducted a study revealing that 33 members of Congress earmarked more than $300 million for projects
within two miles of land they own.
Lying About the Stimulus:
[James] Pethokoukis lists 11 main points that tell us all we need to know about the economic stimulus package
that the Democrat-controlled Congress passed at Obama's behest. Chief among them is this: the nearly
trillion-dollar expenditure package was primarily about implementing Obama's political agenda, not fixing a damaged
economy. The Summers memo is clear evidence that much of the rhetoric put forward by the administration
and allies was patent hogwash.
on a Treadmill. How well can a shrimp perform on a treadmill? It's a question that has puzzled
mankind for ages. Fortunately, some researchers at the College of Charleston, South Carolina, are in the
process of answering it — at a cost to U.S. taxpayers of a mere $682,570 (and counting).
earmark probe finds $834 million in requests. A six-month study of this year's defense authorization
bill has identified 115 spending proposals as earmarks worth $834 million, including 20 by Republican freshmen
who campaigned against the pet projects, according to a copy of the report provided to The Washington Post.
still passes earmarks to build bridges to nowhere. If you thought the furor a few years ago over
the "Bridge to Nowhere" in Alaska prompted Congress to kill earmarks, think again. The 2010 budget approved
by Congress and signed by the president contained nearly 10,000 congressional earmarks worth $15.9 billion,
according to Taxpayers for Common Sense.
This smells like pork to me...
homeowner program mainly benefited 3 states. A $1 billion federal program to help distressed
homeowners in much of the country mainly helped people in just three states and very few in some others,
government data show. Almost half the homeowners aided by the Emergency Homeowners' Loan Program are in
Pennsylvania, Maryland and Connecticut, based on preliminary figures from the Department of Housing and
at What the Government Has Done with Your Money. The feds have gambled with your money again,
and they've lost it again; this time with a company called Beacon Power. You've probably never heard
of this company. Candidly, before the announcement of its bankruptcy filing this week, neither had I.
Just as you probably had never heard of Solyndra before its bankruptcy, neither had I. But your
government has heard of both.
Senate Vote Saves Spending for Squirrel Sanctuaries.
A sanctuary for white squirrels, an antique bicycle museum and a giant roadside coffee pot are some of the projects
that can still be funded with gas-tax dollars meant for highway construction after the Senate defeated a measure to
strip such spending. The amendment was offered by Sen. John McCain (R.-Ariz.) on Wednesday [10/19/2011] to
a massive spending bill, but was tabled 59 to 39. The measure would have lifted a federal
requirement that 10% of highway funding to states be used for beautification or historical projects.
Vegas secures $5.5 million for Mob Museum construction. About $10.6 million in
historic tax credit equity — including $5.5 [sic] for construction costs — is
expected to be brought in over the next five years to help pay for the $42 million Mob Museum in
downtown Las Vegas.
FAA romance led to $970 million contract award, increase in ATC errors.
A recent spike in air traffic control errors is likely attributable to a change in the Federal Aviation Administration's
chosen contractor for training air traffic controllers, The Daily Caller has learned. That change was likely
the result of a government contracting shuffle orchestrated by an FAA official and her lover — a
former FAA official who worked for Raytheon at the time the contract was awarded. Raytheon won the contract,
worth nearly $1 billion. Potentially deadly aircraft incidents attributable to control tower mistakes
have increased dramatically in recent years.
Solar gold. I am
convinced that the green jobs that Barack Obama promised were simply a politically correct
conduit to funnel taxpayer cash to the politically connected.
about so-called green jobs.
Power. The political left is always complaining about them — those undeserved subsidies
for the hated oil companies. But when it comes to government subsidies, the renewable energy companies
Big Green rolls
off its logs. For Big Green, the archetypal "omnibus public lands bill" has been the ideal
vehicle — a game that savvy Democrats play with freshman Republicans to "vote for dozens of my
no-oil-or-gas wilderness bills and I'll vote for two of your 'name a mountain after some obscure native
son' bills." Even better for Big Green, an omnibus bill is so long and complicated that key staffers
are known to have never read the whole thing.
Fraud and Waste at the Clyburn University Transportation Center (To Nowhere).
Has South Carolina State University taken millions in federally earmarked money and used it to create a slush
fund bearing a powerful congressman's name? If you read between the lines of a shocking report released
by the South Carolina legislature's Legislative Audit Council, that appears to be exactly what is happening.
The report concerns an entity called the James E. Clyburn University Transportation Center.
gap in weather satellites threatens forecasting. Congressional budget cutting will delay
the launch of a key weather satellite and hinder tracking of killer hurricanes, tornadoes and other severe
weather, officials warn. The satellite, which had been scheduled to launch in 2016, will be postponed
18 months because of spending cuts and delays. The threat during that gap is that National
Weather Service forecasts will become fuzzier, with the paths of hurricanes and tornadoes even less
The Editor says...
I find it very hard to believe that all weather forecasts are affected by any single satellite.
All this fuss is about a satellite that won't be launched for at least another five years. (Weren't
weather forecasts made before the advent of satellites?) This is obviously baseless alarmism
designed to keep the money flowing to somebody's pet project. But if weather satellites are
really essential, maybe we should spend less money taking pictures
to New York trains to become nation's fastest. Amtrak was awarded $450 million on Monday [5/9/2011]
for major improvements that will make Philadelphia-to-New-York trains the fastest in the country. The
money was part of $2 billion for high-speed rail projects awarded Monday by the U.S. Department of
Transportation, after the new governor of Florida rejected the money earlier this year.
about high speed rail.
"Ten Most Wanted Corrupt Politicians" for 2010. According to ABC News: "In two years,
[Kentucky Representative Hal] Rogers pushed through 135 earmarks worth $246 million. He's
brought tens of millions of dollars into his hometown of Somerset, Ky., so much so that the town has been
dubbed 'Mr. Rogers' neighborhood.'" Among the most egregious earmarks was a $17 million grant
Rogers obtained for an "Airport to Nowhere," a Kentucky airport with "so little traffic that the last
commercial airline pulled out in February (2010)." But the most serious charge against Rogers
involves an earmark he obtained that could benefit one of his own family members.
rush to save cowboy poetry and other boondoggles. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., is
a world-class whiner, but he outdid himself this week. If Republicans' "mean-spirited" budget cuts go
through, a "cowboy poetry festival" in his state would disappear, and "the tens of thousands of people who
come there every year would not exist." Reid's comments demonstrate the utter lack of seriousness about
cutting federal spending displayed by Reid and most of his Democratic colleagues in the Senate.
House debate, pet projects euthanized. After more than 100 votes in four days, the
lesson from last week's spending debate in the House is that nobody's pet projects are safe anymore.
Announces First "Silver Fleece" Award for Government Waste. Today, U.S. Senator Mark Kirk (R-IL)
unveiled the first winner of the "Silver Fleece" Award for government waste profiled in "Wastebook on Facebook,"
a joint initiative of Senators Kirk and Tom Coburn (R-OK). On Wastebook, thousands across the country
voted to give the Silver Fleece award to a grant by the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) of
$998,000 to provide poetry for signs in zoos.
Obama's Solar Nightmare:
[Scroll down] How else have the Democrats been trying to change our power industry? By the old-fashioned
way: changing the rules of the game and then using our tax dollars to enrich green schemers. The
grand champion of spending boosts by Barack Obama and the Democratic Congress has been a 1014% boost in spending
for the "Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy Program." Then there is something called the Green Jobs
Labor Fund — which did not even exist prior to 2009 and has received hundreds of millions of dollars.
But wait... there is more. Much of the stimulus money also went toward funding green schemes, and one
of the major beneficiaries have been solar power promoters. These are, in the words of Washington Post
columnist Robert Samuelson, "pipe dreams." Many of the promoters and hucksters behind these "ventures"
have chummy relationships with Democrats...
A High-Speed Rail Mirage. [Scroll
down] Most of Obama's plan should really be called "moderate-speed rail," as it would upgrade existing
freight lines to run passenger trains at top speeds of 110 mph. At around $5 million per mile,
the total cost would come close to $50 billion. Not satisfied with moderate-speed trains, California
says it wants half of all federal funds so it can build brand-new 220-mph rail lines. But it's unlikely
other states will settle for the slower trains if California gets the faster ones. Building fast trains
nationwide would cost at least $500 billion.
Can streetcars save America's
cities? The Obama administration recently offered some U.S. cities a piece of a $130 million
federal fund for streetcar projects aimed at reducing traffic congestion, cutting pollution and reliance on
foreign oil, and creating jobs. Transit systems in Dallas, St. Louis, Cincinnati and Charlotte, North
Carolina, are slated to share grants from the Federal Transit Administration's Urban Circulator program. ... But
not everyone is a fan of streetcars. "This is a waste of money," said Ron Utt of The Heritage Foundation.
"Streetcars certainly create jobs, but they are a poor investment and create little lasting value," he said.
about mass transit projects.
Senators Vote to Ban
Earmarks - Then Grab Them. Twenty-five senators, most Republicans, who recently voted to ban
homestate projects are claiming hundreds of earmarks in an almost $1.3 trillion bill to fund most
federal programs and agencies until next year.
'Change Has Come to
the Senate' After Collapse of Massive Spending Bill. "We just saw something extraordinary on the
floor of the United States Senate," Sen. John McCain said Thursday night [12/16/2010] after Senate Majority
Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) — lacking enough votes — gave up on a trillion-dollar,
1,924-page omnibus spending bill that included $8 billion in pork barrel spending. Reid's decision
to pull the bill caught some senators by surprise — including the new Republican senator from
Illinois, who now occupies the seat once held by Barack Obama.
Omnibus Bill Earmarks: The
Database. Sen. Tom Coburn's office has posted the entire list of earmarks in the Senate's
$1.1 trillion omnibus spending bill. All 6,715 line items are here — items like a cool
million for broadband expansion in Vermont. $400,000 to create a "research park" in Florida.
Millions in foreclosure modifications in several states. $200,000 for "streetscaping" in North Castle,
NY. $500,000 for "streetscaping" in Indiana. $100,000 for "construction of a trail" in
Pennsylvania. $250,000 for a lake trail in Texas. All of this and more, totaling about
$8 billion, is in the database linked on this page.
The database link is on this page:
Database of All Earmarks Included in the Omnibus Spending Bill. The end-of-the-year Omnibus
Appropriations bill includes approximately $8.3 billion and 6,714 earmarks.
The Omnibus Falls:
How Republicans defeated a $1.1 trillion bill. As he stepped into a Capitol elevator late Thursday
[12/16/2010], bundled up in preparation for the winter winds, Sen. Mitch McConnell cracked a thin smile.
For the low-key leader of Senate Republicans, good spirits were certainly in order. Minutes before, his
cross-aisle counterpart, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, had sounded a death knell for the much-maligned
$1.1 trillion omnibus spending package — the pork-packed keystone of the Democratic lame-duck
feeding frenzy. The weeks since Election Day have provided nauseating confirmation of Mark Twain's
observation: "There is no distinctly native American criminal class except Congress." Exhibit A
is the "omnibus" spending bill Harry Reid is trying to push through the Senate. This monstrosity contains
about 6,500 earmarks — special provisions inserted on behalf of lobbyists to benefit special interests.
The lobbyists get big fees, the interest groups get handouts and the politicians get rewarded with
contributions from both. It's a win-win-win for everyone — except the taxpayers who finance this
carousel of corruption.
billion earmark stalks spending bill. Earmarking practices are far from gone on Capitol Hill
despite the debate over the recent earmark ban proposal. The Wall Street Journal is reporting a
particularly massive piece of pork that appears to be part of the omnibus package lawmakers are sparring
about in Washington.
Reid Pulls Controversial $1.2 Trillion Spending Bill in Favor of Short-Term
Budget Fix. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, bowing to Republican opposition to a 1,924-page
$1.2 trillion spending measure packed with earmarks, withdrew the bill and said he would work with
Republican leaders on a smaller, short-term budget fix to avoid a looming government shutdown.
Senators Larding Up On Pork For The Trip Home. Some lawmakers were fired by voters this year
while others gave notice, but that hasn't stopped the departing public servants from charging up a storm on
the nation's credit card. With Congress angling to finish the lame-duck session this week, a major
piece of unfinished business is a $1.27 trillion omnibus appropriations bill.
From Peanut Research
to Pig Waste, Pork-Laden Spending Bill Called a 'Monstrosity'. In a stinging speech on the
Senate floor, Sen. John McCain listed some of earmarks incorporated into a bill which he said had been
"written by a handful of senators who happen to be members of the Appropriations Committee." The bill
reached his office just after noon on Tuesday [12/14/2010]. Totaling nearly $8.3 billion, he said,
the earmarks include $349,000 for swine waste management in North Carolina; $413,000 for peanut research in
Alabama; $235,000 for noxious weed management in Nevada; and $300,000 for the Polynesian Voyaging Society
Obama Must Veto Omnibus Spending
Bill. The omnibus spending bill for fiscal year 2011, which Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid
dropped on his colleagues yesterday, is more than 1,900 pages long, costs more than $1 trillion, and
consists of some 6,600 earmarks. The entire GOP leadership has come out strongly against the omnibus
bill — on substance (it's terribly wasteful and profligate) and process (a lame-duck session of Congress
should not be passing legislation of this dimension, which is clearly at odds with what most Americans voted
for during the 2010 midterm election).
One Last Disgrace.
The 1,924-page omnibus spending bill unveiled yesterday [12/14/2010] by Senate Democrats is the legislative equivalent of a
middle finger, one that reminds us of how richly the Democrats deserved the shellacking visited upon them on
Election Day. Rather than pass a simple "continuing resolution" to fund government operations through
early 2011, Harry Reid & Co. decided to ignore the backlash against fiscal profligacy and let their
pork barons run wild.
Obama's $8 Billion Earmark Rerun: Lesson Not Learned? The Obama administration today [12/15/2010]
told Congress to pass an omnibus spending bill containing $8 billion in earmark projects, even though just a few days
ago the president said one of the lessons he learned from the 2010 midterm elections was to take more
seriously the public's disapproval of — and his pledge to oppose — earmarks.
Out-of-this-World Pork in
the Beehive State. Senator Orrin Hatch (R-UT) seems to have no qualms about either strong-arming
federal agencies to supply pork to his state, or to vociferously take pride in such actions. In a meeting
at NASA headquarters a week and a half ago with other members of the Utah delegation (including his junior colleague,
the departing, ousted-by-tea-partiers Senator Bob Bennett), he reportedly bullied NASA Administrator Charles Bolden
and his deputy, Lori Garver, to ensure that any new rockets the space agency designed are built to congressional
in corruption. Lisa Murkowski proved this past week that she has learned nothing from the message of the
midterm elections. The main issues that drove people to the polls and created a Republican landslide were the
beliefs that our nation is on the wrong track and that government spending has gotten completely out of control.
Within weeks of the election, Alaska Sens. Lisa Murkowski and Mark Begich voted to retain the wasteful and corrupting
earmarks they cherish. The new House majority, and even President Obama, have committed to banning earmarks.
The Prince of Pork. Harold Rogers
of Kentucky does not seem like an obvious choice to head the House Appropriations Committee in the new Tea
Party-energized Republican Congress. He's known as "The Prince of Pork," and not because of regular
attendance at the local pit barbecue. He has over $250 million in earmarks sewn into his royal
robes from just the last two years. This is not a profile likely to please the Tea Party faithful.
'Christmas trees:' Earmarks by another name. Earmarks epitomize to many Americans the corrupt
culture that has brought Congress to its lowest level of public esteem in modern history. But
professional politicians in both parties are now treating the country to a vivid demonstration of an equally
disreputable illustration of what is wrong with Washington — turning the tax cut compromise
between President Obama and congressional Republicans into a "Christmas tree."
'Christmas trees:' Earmarks by another name. Earmarks epitomize to many Americans the corrupt culture
that has brought Congress to its lowest level of public esteem in modern history. But professional politicians in
both parties are now treating the country to a vivid demonstration of an equally disreputable illustration of what is wrong
with Washington — turning the tax cut compromise between President Obama and congressional Republicans into a "Christmas tree."
The Day The Earmarks Stood Still.
A group of GOP senators has announced they will propose an earmark moratorium for the 112th Congress at next
week's Senate Republican Conference meeting. ... "Americans want Congress to shut down the earmark favor factory,
and next week I believe House and Senate Republicans will unite to stop pork barrel spending," said Senator
DeMint. "Instead of spending time chasing money for pet projects, lawmakers will be able to focus on
balancing the budget, reforming the tax code and repealing the costly health care takeover."
Earmark Myths and
Realities. It's true that earmarks themselves represent a tiny portion of the budget, but a small rudder
can help steer a big ship, which is why I've long described earmarks as the gateway drug to spending addiction in
Down the Queen of Pork. The Patty Murray-Dino Rossi matchup is in many ways an archetype of the
2010 midterms: Murray, the entrenched incumbent, versus Rossi, the outsider promising to change Washington's
course. But while many of her fellow Democrats have wavered, Murray has defended the president's agenda at
every turn. During the first debate, Murray said "not only did I read" the health-care-reform bill, "but
I helped write it." On spending, she insists the stimulus was necessary to save jobs, and perhaps most
notably, she has been steadfast in her defense of earmarks, or "investments" as she likes to call them.
Earmark Moratorium Should Be GOP's Top Priority.
Congressional Republicans — including freshly minted senators and representatives — will be
confronted with one of the most important votes of the year when they regroup on Capitol Hill just two weeks
after Election Day. It's not the issue of electing a speaker or minority leader. It's whether or
not to extend the GOP's earmark moratorium for the 112th Congress.
Report Shows Billions in Education Budget Spent on 'School House Pork'. What do mariachi classes,
wine studies and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame have in common? They were all funded by federal Department
of Education earmarks, according to an extensive new report released Thursday [9/30/2010] by Sen. Tom Coburn.
The Oklahoma Republican, in a study called "School House Pork," is urging the federal government to suspend these
education "slush funds" after finding that lawmakers have secured 5,563 such earmarks, worth $2.3 billion
over the past decade.
Slapped With Ethics Complaint. At issue is over $100,000 of campaign contributions made by Nevada
defense contractor Arcata Associates to both Reid and the Nevada Democrat Party. The small Nevada defense
firm recently had a program terminated by the Department of Defense which was subsequently reinstated via an
earmark request by Reid.
The true cost of that canopy is high.
Following the death of Sen. Robert Byrd, Charleston Mayor Danny Jones felt it necessary to defend the federal
funding of the canopy atop the Haddad Riverfront Park. It was one of the final acts of pork-barrel
politics by the senator and one of the few that were not named in his honor.
Buying pork with a credit card:
will borrow up to $600 million to pay for pet building projects. The new $28 billion state
budget was part of a deal that would boost state borrowing by as much as $600 million to pay for construction
projects such as new public buildings to be named after U.S. Sen. Arlen Specter and late U.S. Rep. John Murtha.
Greed of the Public Servant. The
American body politic is rotten with the disease of OPM — Other People's Money. Eighty years of
members of Congress assuming that they know better how to spend the money you earn than you do has left the
once self-sufficient Republic a dependent, bankrupt debtor. The death of West Virginia Sen. Robert Byrd
marked the high tide of the OPM era — leaving behind libraries, highways, post offices, and
federal buildings named for Sen. Byrd, amidst a state economy still characterized by poverty. Government
can take your money and build monuments, but OPM cannot "stimulate" a growing economy.
Whose idea was this?
Cloud Has $5 Million Airport Terminal But No Place to Go. St. Cloud Regional Airport (STC) touts
lots of amenities on its website — a café, ATM, free wi-fi, free parking and a $5 million
completely renovated terminal whose capacity went up dramatically from 30 to 200 travelers. There's
also a new $750,000 passenger boarding bridge secured with federal stimulus funds to keep travelers out of the
elements while catching a flight. One asset, however, the newly renovated airport notably
lacks — commercial flights and passengers.
Highways to Nowhere. Despite the $4 billion in pork that [Robert] Byrd served his
constituents over the past 19 years alone — not to mention the untold billions before observers
started keeping tabs — West Virginia remains the third poorest state in the country.
II means more cash for Dems. Unemployment among government workers last month was 3.4 percent,
according to the Bureau of Labor statistics, meaning government workers are about three times less likely to be
jobless than the general population. From this disparity, Democrats have somehow concluded that what we
really need is a greater disparity. How else can anyone explain their plan for an additional
$50 billion bailout to prevent further job losses among state and local government workers?
Voters may be fed
up with pork. When it comes to the congressional variety, members of the powerful appropriations
committees are finding that holding the nation's purse strings — and the power the positions afford
in doling out pork-barrel projects back home — are no guarantee these days for re-election.
Reasons Government Has Become Completely Dysfunctional in America. [Scroll down] Earmarks
have become a means of legalized bribery. We get all upset about politicians who are tied in any way,
shape, or form to Jack Abramoff — but what Abramoff did goes on every day of the week. Where
Abramoff blew it was by explicitly saying, "I'll get you this much money and you'll do this for me." Yet,
lobbyists do the exact same thing all the time, but they just don't say it out loud. They give money to
congressmen and expect to get earmarks in return. They do, in fact, get the earmarks they paid
for — and it's perfectly legal.
Watchdogs: Temple for Ted Kennedy built with pork.
The amount of taxpayer money being funneled to a Dorchester shrine to the late Sen. Edward M. Kennedy
has ballooned to $38 million and could rise to at least $68 million this year, infuriating
watchdog groups who insist the project should be privately funded.
Looking At Democracy. Every
time I use the word "democracy" to describe the process by which Americans elect their representatives, someone
leaps to their computer to inform me that America is a "republic" and not a democracy. I am well aware of
this, but it does not change the process. It got me thinking about Alexis de Tocqueville's trip throughout
America in 1831-1832. ... Presciently, Tocqueville wrote, "The American Republic will endure until the day
Congress discovers that it can bribe the public with the public's money." That day has arrived.
Are You Paying for Earmarks? The first step to recovery is admitting you have a problem.
Will anyone in Congress concede it has an addiction? ... Let's take a look at some specific examples.
Millions of taxpayer dollars were set aside for textile research in North Carolina. Hundreds of thousands
of dollars went for tattoo removal in California and almost a million more for fish management in Alabama.
H.R.1: The House's Pig Pen.
The pork-laden American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 passed by Democrats in the House is a huge pig
pen. [Excerpts from the items requested by the Department of Agriculture:] $5,838,000,000 — Rural
Development Programs, Rural Community Advancement Program; $22,129,000,000 — Rural Housing Service,
Rural Housing Insurance Fund Program Account; $2,825,000,000 — Rural Utilities Service, Distance
Learning, Telemedicine, and Broadband Program; ...
A Conservative Manifesto: What
today's conservatives need is a manifesto, a list of those characteristics and policies that define what a
conservative is. Simply being against taxes is not enough. I know of too many in my own party
who use that simplistic measurement and then blithely vote to continue stealing from the taxpayer for no
other cause than their own enrichment.
loose change, spare change, and crooks: [Scroll down] Last week, the House ethics committee
released a 305-page report on its investigation into seven congressmen — Norm Dicks (D-Wash.), Marcy Kaptur
(D-Ohio), James Moran (D-Va.), Todd Tiahrt (R-Kan.), Peter Visclosky (D-Ind.), Bill Young (R-Fla.), and the
late John Murtha (D-Pa.) — suspected of trading earmarks for campaign contributions. In 2008, these
congressmen provided various interests $112 million worth of federal funding and received over $350,000
back in campaign contributions.
Cornhusker Kickback II: All
things considered, the people of Nebraska let it be known that they preferred not to sell their birthright for
a mess of pottage such as Obamacare. If the Obamacare legislation makes it to Obama, it is supposed to be
minus the Cornhusker Kickback. Now Rowan Scarborough reports that the Obama administration has delivered
another budget plum to Nelson and the state of Nebraska, adding more than a half-billion dollars for a new
veterans hospital in Omaha.
Stinking up Congress:
At least once a week, and sometimes daily, the office of Sen. Tom Coburn, Oklahoma Republican, issues its "Pork
Report" to highlight outrageous government waste. The very fact that such a report can continue week
after week, hundreds of millions of dollars after other hundreds of millions, is evidence in itself that
spending abuses are almost endless.
Earmark Nation. When
earlier this week President Obama signed a $410 billion spending bill to keep the government running
through the fall, every account of the event noted the 800-pound contradiction in the room. Mr. Obama
had campaigned against earmarks, even saying he would cut them back to levels before 1994, the start of the
Gingrich-GOP interregnum. Now here was Obama as president signing a bill soaked in earmarks.
increases in 2009. The cost of earmarks increased this year despite lawmakers' claims they're working to
reduce pork-barrel spending. Earmarks, which are inserted in appropriations bills by members in order to fund
specific projects, added up to $19.9 billion in 2009, according to an analysis by the Taxpayers for Common Sense
and Center for Responsive Politics. Earmarks in 2008 spending bills were worth $18.3 billion.
Millions in Stimulus
Spending Being Doled Out for Questionable Jobs. [Scroll down] Take the Napa Valley Wine Train. The
county received $54 million to build a railroad bridge, relocate a half-mile of track and build a flood
wall to protect a wine train passenger station. The no-bid contract went to a minority-owned business
operated by an Eskimo tribe outside Anchorage. The company then hired a real construction company for a
fraction of what they were paid by the government to actually do the work. The tribe's CEO has no
Train Stimulus Scam Gets Even Uglier. The notion that the government was squandering millions of
taxpayer dollars to prop up a private tourist attraction seemed to epitomize everything that was wrong with
pork-barrel politics masquerading as sober economic policy. I mean, while we're subsidizing tourist traps,
why not give a couple hundred million to Disneyland to build a new "Pirates of the Potomac" ride?
Republicans lead earmark list.
The top earmarkers in both the House and Senate are Republicans, even after the GOP has spent much of the past
year making fiscal restraint and runaway government spending the centerpiece of its political message.
Rep. Bill Young (R-Fla.) and Sen. Thad Cochran (R-Miss.) — both atop defense spending panels —
led their respective bodies in securing earmarks, according to an analysis by the nonprofit Taxpayers for
dip in earmark spending despite White House push for transparency. Transparency requirements
pushed for by the Obama administration have not changed the total spending on earmarks for 2010, according to
a study by a group critical of the practice. The amount of money directed by lawmakers in 2010 to
specific projects back in their districts adds up to $15.9 billion, according to the analysis by
Taxpayers for Common Sense. Earmarks in 2009 added up to a total of $19.9 billion.
you think our debt's bad now ... On day one of his vow to take "meaningful steps to rein in our debt," Barack
Obama asked Congress to freeze portions of discretionary domestic spending. ... On Day Two, taking a break from the rigors
of austerity, he was in Tampa, Fla., promising $8 billion for high-speed rail projects there and in a dozen other
places. Four days later, he released a $3.8 trillion fiscal year 2011 budget that would add another
$1.3 trillion to the national debt.
Off the rails.
The federal government is running annual budget deficits of $1.5 trillion, and the state of Florida is
having to cut spending by billions of dollars every year to stay out of the red. Yet both are willing
to commit billions that they don't have to fund high-speed rail service between Orlando and Tampa. Talk
about fiscal discipline jumping the tracks. This is the equivalent of buying a 50-inch plasma TV while
your home is in foreclosure.
Lawmakers OK Massive Rail Deal. The most expensive rail deal in U.S. history has become law in
Florida. Critics charge the price was vastly inflated. After failing twice before, a plan that
will link several central Florida communities and clear the way for new commuter and high-speed rail systems
in the state won approval during a six-day special session of the Florida legislature. Governor Charlie
Crist (R) signed the bill into law soon after its passage in December. It allows the state to purchase
61.5 miles of track from the freight railroad CSX for $432 million. CSX will then lease the
track from the state.
Obama's Expensive Train Set: There's
just one thing wrong with Barack Obama's $8 billion economic stimulus plan to build high speed railroad
lines he claims will create lots of jobs, move millions of people, curb traffic, clean the air and make
intercity travel more cost-efficient and fast. It won't. It will create relatively few high paying
jobs because the companies who build high speed trains are mostly in Europe and Asia.
Obama boosts funds for historically black
colleges. The leaders of the nation's historically black colleges and universities breathed a
sigh of relief this week when they learned that President Barack Obama's fiscal 2011 budget includes a
$30 million funding increase for their financially struggling schools.
Change We Can Believe In.
[Let's] Outlaw the naming of federal projects after any living politicians. Don't laugh. Without their
names on highway stretches, bridges, and "centers", most of these projects would not be built. ... What is
the logic behind the notion that we immortalize a senator or congresswoman who uses someone else's money
to build a bridge, or lobbies for an earmark for his district, or, at best, simply does his job?
New Report Exposes Special Interests Tied to
Cap-and-Trade Bill. "Classic pork-barrel politics pushed this flawed legislation over the
finish line." Earmarks totaling $5.45 billion went to the districts of four Democratic
Representatives: Bobby Rush (D.-Ill.), $1 billion, Alan Grayson (D.-Fla.), $50 million, Mary
Kaptur (D.-Ohio), $3.5 billion, and Frank Kratovil (D-Md.), $1 billion. Minority Leader
John Boehner (R.-Ohio) referred to his fellow Ohioan's earmark as pork.
about the cap and trade boondoggle.
billion in disclosed earmarks expected in fiscal year 2010. Congress is on pace to spend
$11 billion on disclosed earmarks in fiscal year 2010, according to Taxpayers for Common Sense.
That's about $4 billion less than last year's cost of earmarks, which fund projects at the specific
request of lawmakers. Disclosed earmarks totaled nearly $15 billion in fiscal year 2009,
the groups said.
funds diverted to pet projects. Senators diverted $2.6 billion in funds in a defense
spending bill to pet projects largely at the expense of accounts that pay for fuel, ammunition and training
for U.S. troops, including those fighting wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, according to an analysis.
Among the 778 such projects, known as earmarks, packed into the bill: $25 million for a new World
War II museum at the University of New Orleans and $20 million to launch an educational institute
named after the late Sen. Edward M. Kennedy, Massachusetts Democrat.
defense bill headed for Senate vote. The Congressional agenda is packed with health care, energy
and financial regulatory reform issues, but lawmakers have found plenty of time to stuff earmarks into the defense
spending bill, according to the number crunchers at Taxpayers for Common Sense. The watchdog group analyzed
the 2010 defense appropriations bill that will soon make an appearance on the Senate floor and found 778 earmarks
totaling $2.65 billion, with many of the big-ticket items credited to members of the appropriations committee,
which is typical.
Party of Porkulus. Let there be no doubt: Democrats are the party with two ideas: borrow and
spend. ... The same underhanded, transparency-defying, earmark-stuffing process that marked the porkulus beast is dominating
every other pricey piece of legislation hurtling through the Democrat-led Congress. ... The friends and patrons of Obama
may be making out like bandits. But for everyone else, the Democrats' ideological bankruptcy comes at a nauseatingly
Obama's Toxic Assets: Ethics
may yet become an issue with the Obama Administration which, like the Clinton Administration, came to Washington
promising an administration of unparalleled ethical purity. The $410 billion omnibus spending bill is a
cornucopia for graft. The $787 billion stimulus bill is yet another cornucopia for graft. Then there
is the problem recently editorialized upon by the Wall Street Journal. It appears that the Treasury Department's
plan for toxic-asset purchases is going to be limited to a handful of four or five huge companies bidding on the
toxic assets and managing them.
And Now For Something Completely Crazy.
The news is coming so thick and fast these days that it's hard to keep up. The Supreme Court, socialized medicine,
cap and trade, record deficits, foreign policy fecklessness — it's easy to lose track of smaller issues with
all that is going on. Still, H.R. 1018 shouldn't be allowed to pass unnoticed. H.R. 1018 is the
"Restore Our American Mustangs Act." It can fairly be described as a welfare program for horses.
Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison is
CAGW's October Porker of the Month. Citizens Against Government Waste (CAGW) today named Sen.
Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-Texas) its October Porker of the Month. The four-term senator from Texas is
loading up her goodie bag just before Halloween as she prepares to leave the Senate to run for governor.
While claiming to be a fiscal conservative, Sen. Hutchison requested 149 projects worth $1.6 billion
for authorization and appropriations bills for fiscal year 2010.
Obama expected to talk
rail in Tampa. President Barack Obama, in a visit to Tampa next week, is expected to announce
federal funding for one of the biggest transportation projects in state history: up to $2.6 billion
for a high-speed rail system linking Tampa Bay to Orlando.
House Approves $410 Billion
Spending Bill. The Democratic-controlled House approved $410 billion legislation Wednesday that boosted
domestic programs, bristled with earmarks and chipped away at policies left behind by the Bush administration.
The vote was 245-178, largely along party lines.
Online hide and go seek. Scores of House members are hiding their earmark requests in obscure corners
of their official websites — sticking to the letter of their new rule while shunning its spirit. The
lawmakers are interpreting an ambiguous rule liberally, disclosing their requests as required on their official
congressional webpages but avoiding any prominent display.
senators post their earmarks online. One of the unsung heroes in the nation's capital is Bill
Allison of the Sunlight Foundation. Bill is a former investigative reporter and has for the past three
years at Sunlight been a leader in the trans-partisan movement for greater transparency and accountability
Mismanagement and Fiscal Irresponsibility. Every year, U.S. taxpayers spend billions of dollars on
public land management, but the way in which these funds are allocated — through the congressional
budgeting process — ensures the Forest Service, Bureau of Land Management and National Park Service
respond to the will of politicians. The result is what has been called "park barrel politics," which persists
while the National Park Service maintains an estimated $9 billion backlog of construction and maintenance projects.
decries earmarks, then signs a law with 9,000 of them. As a candidate, Barack Obama once said
that a president has to be able to do more than one thing at a time. Wednesday he proved it, though not
in the way he had in mind. He criticized pork barrel spending in the form of "earmarks," urging changes
in the way that Congress adopts the spending proposals. Then he signed a spending bill that contains
nearly 9,000 of them, some that members of his own staff shoved in last year when they were still members of
ties help 'pork park' pass. Call it the Pork Park: Congress this week passed a bill creating
a national historic park in Paterson, N.J., ensuring years of funding for the downtrodden area despite
objections by the National Park Service that the park does not deserve federal dollars. The 40-acre
Paterson Great Falls National Historic Park was one of scores of parks and conservation projects that the
House approved Wednesday [3/25/2009] as part of the $8 billion omnibus public lands bill. President
Obama is expected to sign the measure soon.
Broken Earmark Promises. Wednesday —
behind closed doors — President Barack Obama signed his 2009 Omnibus spending package, calling it an "imperfect"
bill. With 8,570 disclosed earmarks worth $7.7 billion "imperfect" is an understatement. It's bad enough
that our president was in an irresponsible rush to spend hundreds of billions with his "stimulus" package ($787 billion),
and soon $350 million in the second half of the TARP funds, $32 billion — at least — for his
new SCHIP program, and now $410 billion in his "imperfect" omnibus bill, but on top of that, he's been dishonest.
Barney Frank Named 'Porker of
the Month' by Government Watchdog. Rep. Barney Frank (D-Mass.), chairman of the House Financial
Services Committee, has been named "Porker of the Month" by Citizens Against Government Waste (CAGW) because
of his criticism of bonuses for AIG employees while Frank himself has supported bailouts for failing banks
More Pork, Anybody? There is no exact
definition of what an earmark is. Or even what pork is. Obama has no objection to pork. Just as
long as it serves the public good. Which is why in Obama's $787 billion stimulus bill there was plenty
of money for a magnetic levitation train between Disneyland and Las Vegas. This would do a lot of people who
like to gamble while wearing mouse ears a lot of good. Which is the trouble with pork and even earmarks.
Everybody who wants the dough claims it does somebody some good.
Barack Obama was so fed up hearing about the evil earmarks in the $410 billion omnibus spending bill that the
president signed it in private. "Some things are signed in public," said irrepressible White House humorist
Robert Gibbs, "and some aren't." What's to be embarrassed about?
Earmarks and the Federal Budget. Earmarks
are generally associated with "pork-barrel" spending. Appropriations that are earmarked can be wasteful, excessive,
and unconstitutional. However, as the stimulus and TARP legislation surely demonstrate, appropriations that are not
earmarked can also be wasteful, excessive, and unconstitutional.
Robert Byrd's 'Road to Nowhere'. It
is just one of the many pork barrel projects around America that's sucking up your hard-earned taxpayer dollars.
Ainsley Earhardt takes us to West Virginia's Corridor H for a closer look at the road that leads to where?
BHO Giving Up? The Wall Street
Journal today reported President Barack Obama has decided to give up fighting for "change" in Washington,
instead acquiescing to the demands of the Democrat controlled Congress. During his campaign, BHO
promised to curb earmarks. He promised to end the use of presidential signing statements — a
president's way of rejecting parts of a bill without entirely vetoing it — something President
George W Bush did very often. WSJ reports he even promised to open an investigation of Bush's 1,200
signing statements. But, today, BHO decided to break both promises when he signed the omnibus spending
bill into law. The bill contains more than 8,500 pork barrel earmarks worth over $7.7 billion in
Virginia Watchdog exposes another Mollohan earmark scam. West Virginia Watchdog Steve
Allen Adams has uncovered another wrinkle in Rep. Alan Mollohan's earmark-based fiefdom — companies
that rent office space in the office park named after the Democrat congressman not only have to write
that monthly check, they also pay hefty campaign donations to you know who.
Giant Omnibus Bill Includes
$7.7 Billion in Earmarks for Bugs, Pigs, Parking — and La Raza. Termite research,
walrus rehabilitation and pig manure are among the more than 8,570 of earmarks in the omnibus spending
package currently before the Senate. Critics charge the bill is stuffed full of so many pork barrel
projects — $7.7 billion worth — that President Barack Obama should veto it.
Congress being dishonest with
Omnibus, earmarks. The nation's largest taxpayer group says both political parties in
Washington are engaged in a "conspiracy of silence" over what they're actually doing to the Omnibus budget
bill. Meantime, the spending spree is continuing in Washington.
Earmarking Senators in the $410 Billion Spending Bill. Who is the biggest earmarker of them
all? According to Taxpayers for Common Sense, Sen. Robert Byrd, D-W.Va., takes the cake, with
60 earmarks worth $123 million in the latest spending bill before the Senate. But he's hardly
alone. The budget watchdog group has released its latest list breaking down the earmarks,
lawmaker-by-lawmaker, in the $410 billion bill set to come up for a vote by the end of the day. The
bill would fund the government through the end of the fiscal year, with an 8.5 percent increase over
last year and billions of dollars in pet projects.
Reform Lite: Obama goes soft on pork.
Pulled between his campaign rhetoric and his own party's congressional barons, President Barack Obama largely
sided with his Hill allies in unveiling an earmark proposal Wednesday [3/11/2009] that shies away from any
strict crackdown on the practice. Obama proposed further transparency for the spending goodies prized
by many members of Congress — but stopped far short of the kind of serious limits reformers wanted.
Obama tiptoes into battle on earmarks.
President Barack Obama announced new steps Wednesday to rein in pork barrel spending by Congress, but his failure
to specify real cuts could come back to haunt him in the larger fight over his ambitious budget plans this
spring. "Nobody's going to believe it's real until they see an example," Rep. Jim Cooper (D-Tenn.) said,
urging Obama to follow up soon with specific rescissions singling out wasteful projects to be terminated.
has enough pork to be in hog heaven. A massive spending bill expected to be approved by Congress
this week is filled with more than 8,500 earmarks — those pet projects that lawmakers love —
costing $7.7 billion. Despite the tough economy, mounting federal budget deficit and pledges by
President Obama and members of both parties to crack down on the practice, a number of lawmakers have defended
their earmarks as important to the nation's economic recovery.
Obama Cabinet Members Added Earmarks to Omnibus Spending Bill. Two of President Obama's Cabinet members
authored a variety of earmarks in the $410 billion omnibus spending bill the House is poised to pass Wednesday to
keep the government running through Oct. 1. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood and Labor Secretary Hilda Solis
were both House members when appropriators began to forge this legislation last year. However, a stalemate between
President Bush and congressional Democrats forced the sides to punt the rest of the spending provisions until now.
Anatomy of an Earmark.
You can't be a Republican on Capitol Hill these days without talking about the 8,000 earmarks in the massive
omnibus spending bill. With somewhere between $5 billion and $8 billion in special spending projects,
the bill contains so much questionable spending that no outsider — actually no insider,
either — can keep track of it all.
Obama to Sign Spending Bill With
Earmarks. President Barack Obama will sign a $410 billion government-spending bill,
even though it includes thousands of the spending "earmarks" that he had criticized on the campaign
trail, a top White House aide said. White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel, speaking on CBS's
"Face the Nation" Sunday [3/1/2009], said the president wasn't happy with the 9,000-or-so earmarks
that lawmakers added to the legislation. But "this is last year's business," Mr. Emanuel said,
adding that Mr. Obama would sign the bill, once it is approved by Congress.
try to brand earmarks as good. Capitol Hill's top Democrats are making a full-throated effort
to rebrand earmarks as good government, not a dirty word synonymous with pork-barrel hijinks. With
President Obama's vow to clamp down on earmarks putting pressure on lawmakers to change their ways,
congressional leaders have set out to educate voters about why they think Congress should direct dollars
to districts or states for specific pet projects.
release new rules on earmarks. President Obama, who has been criticized for his plans to sign
a pork-laden $410 billion omnibus spending package moving through Congress this week, will release new
rules for earmarks prior to signing the bill, the White House said Monday [3/2/2009].
The Editor says...
Rules mean nothing to Mr. Obama. He waives his own rules whenever they become inconvenient.
(Details on this page.)
nowhere' OK'd for Everglades. A provision buried inside Congress' giant spending bill would
overturn a federal court order, discard part of environmental law and reject an Indian tribe's plea, forcing
the government to build a bridge in Everglades National Park that a federal judge has declared "a complete
waste of taxpayer dollars."
Obama beats early retreat on
promise to fight pork. Despite campaign promises to take a machete to lawmakers' pet projects,
President Barack Obama is quietly caving to funding nearly 8,000 of them this year, drawing a stern rebuke
Monday from his Republican challenger in last fall's election. Arizona Sen. John McCain said it is
"insulting to the American people" for Obama's budget director to indicate over the weekend that the president
will sign a $410 billion spending bill with what Republicans critics say is nearly $5.5 billion in
pet projects known as earmarks.
What are "the People" Thinking As 546 Political
Pigs Destroy their Nation? 310 million Americans have allowed 546 political pigs in
Washington DC to completely destroy the greatest nation ever known to mankind. The people didn't
destroy the nation themselves, even though they will be the ones who will have to pick up the pieces
and start all over, once it all comes unhinged... But they have allowed it.
Senate keeps pet projects in
spending bill. The Senate voted overwhelmingly to preserve thousands of earmarks in a
$410 billion spending bill on Tuesday, brushing aside Sen. John McCain's claim that President Barack
Obama and Congress are merely conducting business as usual in a time of economic hardship. McCain's
attempt to strip out an estimated 8,500 earmarks failed on a vote of 63-32.
Porky Pols Pig Out On Fine Swine. Congress went on a pork-a-palooza yesterday, approving a massive spending
bill with big bucks for Hawaiian canoe trips, research into pig smells, and tattoo removal — all while the nation
faces an economic crisis. Among the recipients of federal largesse is the Polynesian Voyaging Society of Honolulu,
which got a $238,000 "earmark" in the bill.
Process Hijacked by Selfish Interests. Yesterday was Budget Day in Washington, that glorious
day each February when the federal city comes alive as the political agenda for the coming year is set.
Suddenly everyone — members of Congress, federal employees, contractors, lobbyists, the think tanks
and associations — begins to mobilize for and against the thousands of policy decisions and proposals
embedded in the president's fiscal plan.
Daley Seizes Land for Unfunded Project. Chicago Mayor Richard Daley has kicked hundreds of families
out of their homes and relocated a cemetery full of buried bodies to build a whopping $15 billion airport
expansion Chicago residents oppose, airlines don't want and he doesn't have the money to build. The
kicker is that Daley stands a solid chance of getting a good chunk of the boondoggle funded in Washington's
forthcoming stimulus bill under Barack Obama's pledge to dramatically increase infrastructure spending.
plan could shape course of Barack Obama's presidency. Though no stimulus bill has yet been
drafted, Republicans are wary of some of the proposals put forward by groups that are talking to Obama's
transition team. They cite a report by the U.S. Conference of Mayors listing myriad projects cast
as vehicles to create jobs and boost the economy. Those include a dog park in Hercules, Calif.; a
bike path in San Diego; and a $1.5-million push to curb prostitution in Dayton, Ohio.
Bridges to Everywhere. President-elect
Obama's transition team is promising that its $700 billion, or $850 billion, or $1 trillion, or whatever it
now is "stimulus" won't include pork-barrel spending. They must not have talked to the nation's mayors, who recently
responded to Mr. Obama's request to compile their priority list of "shovel-ready" projects. By all accounts, the
$73 billion wish list may be the largest collection of parochial spending projects in American history.
Paving Projects Won't Boost
Economy. President-elect Obama has announced plans for a new stimulus package containing
$500 billion to $700 billion worth of public works projects. ... America's governors already are
scrambling to compose lists of "shovel-ready" projects so no bridge or highway is left behind.
Obama's Secretary of Earmarks. Barack
Obama wasn't kidding about the audacity of hope. In tapping Republican Illinois Congressman Ray LaHood to head the
Transportation Department last week, he got more Beltway hosannas for bipartisanship. At the same time he managed to
choose one of the biggest spenders in Congress, of either party, and just the fellow to push $850 billion in "stimulus"
out the door. As a long-time and stalwart Member of the House Appropriations Committee, Mr. LaHood facilitated the
incontinent spending that helped Republicans lose their majority in 2006.
Sponsored Millions in Earmarks. The former Republican congressman chosen by President-elect
Barack Obama to direct billions in federal highway spending has been an unapologetic advocate of earmarks, a
practice Obama now opposes, and has used his influence to win funding for projects pushed by some of his
largest campaign contributors.
Senator flags $1.3 billion as
gov't waste. As the budget deficit soared, infrastructure crumbled and the economy tanked, the
federal government this year spent $300,000 for a California skateboarding park, $188,000 to research Maine
lobsters and $3.2 million on a spy blimp the military doesn't want, according to a new report by the
Senate's self-styled spending scourge. The report, to be released today by Sen.
Tom Coburn, R-Okla., lists more than $1.3 billion of what it calls wasteful projects in 2008.
Government. Last Monday, the U.S. Conference of Mayors sent its list of wishes to the political
equivalent of Santa Claus: Congress. ... The mayors claim the economy will be stimulated if their
wishes are granted. What do they want? The National Taxpayers Union (NTU) has analyzed the
72-page list. ... [The projects include] 15 projects with the term "stadium" in them, including a
$150 million Metromover extension to the Florida Marlins' baseball stadium; and 81 projects
mentioning "landscaping" and/or beautification efforts. Kristina Rasmussen, NTU's director of
government affairs, offers more analysis of the mayors' report on NTU's blog: "Total cost of the
wish list is $73,163,299,303."
earmarks, nobody wants to admit who's your daddy. Earmarks like the infamous $223 million "Bridge to
Nowhere" in Alaska are getting lots of public attention these days but The Examiner recently found that uncovering simple
facts about them can be nearly impossible. When we asked questions about three earmarks worth millions of dollars
given to local recipients, nobody seemed to know how the earmarks started or which member of Congress was responsible
Downsizing the Federal Government by
Chris Edwards, who is director of tax policy at the Cato Institute. He holds an MA in
economics from George Mason University in Virginia.
Congressional Pig Book Summary. The federal government's expanding
waistline (a record $427 billion deficit) has resulted from too many members
of Congress believing that the United States Treasury is their own personal ATM. Our
elected officials have let themselves go whole hog while letting down every hard-working
American taxpayer. The 2005 Congressional Pig Book is the latest installment of
Citizens Against Government Waste's (CAGW) 15-year exposé of pork-barrel
spending. This year's list includes $3,270,000 for the Capitol Visitor
Center; $100,000 for the Tiger Woods Foundation; and $75,000 for Onondaga County
for the Greater Syracuse Sports Hall of Fame.
Per Capita by State.
The dried-up veto
pen: Last week, I was asked to testify before the Senate Democratic Policy Committee.
… I explained I am not particularly a deficit hawk, nor do the size of the Bush
tax cuts bother me. What really bothers me is the orgy of spending by Republicans. It is
just appalling that the recent highway bill had 5,000 "earmarks" in it, almost without
exception, utterly unjustified pork barrel projects.
A History of
Earmarks (or rather, the lack thereof). Just take a look at the history of the Defense
Appropriations Bill: Taxpayers for Common Sense calculated that the 1970 Defense Appropriations
Bill had a dozen earmarks; the 1980 bill had 62 earmarks; and by 2005, the defense bill had skyrocketed
to 2,671 earmarks. The most recent bill spends money on anything from the eradication of brown
tree snakes in Guam, to a virtual reality spray paint simulator system in Pine City, Minnesota. (And
remember, this is the Defense Appropriations Bill. What do snakes and spray paint have to do with
maintaining our nation's security?)
Spending Makes a Comeback. More than a year after Congress pledged to curb pork barrel funding known as
earmarks, lawmakers are gearing up for another spending binge, directing billions toward organizations and companies in
their home districts. Earmark spending in the House's defense authorization bill alone soared 29 percent last
month, from $7.7 billion last year to $9.9 billion now, according to data compiled by Taxpayers for Common
Sense, a nonpartisan watchdog group in the District.
The Weight of
Government: In the chaos of defeat Republicans and conservatives feel most ashamed
about the profligate spending. How was it that the conservative President Bush and the
Republican Congress of 2001-2006 could have so increased the weight of government on the backs
of the American people -- including that most shameful spending of all, earmarks? The
answer is simple. Republican politicians know that the American people don't really
want to cut government.
Government budgets, after all, are only projections of what is supposed to happen, not a hard and fast record of
what has in fact happened. And seldom will the public or the media do anything so mean-spirited as go back
and compare what the budget said would happen with what actually happened. Moreover, politicians can put
certain large expenditures "off budget" for any number of noble-sounding reasons. And if you have long
experience in using political rhetoric, nothing is easier than coming up with noble-sounding reasons.
Just Forget the Word 'Earmark'. The more than 32,000 earmarks requested in the Homeland Security
spending bill have roiled the House this week, and now Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D.-Calif.) wants the word 'earmark'
to just go away. In a Tuesday press conference about appropriation bills, Pelosi said, "Why don't we leave
here today forgetting the word earmark?" She said they should be called "legislative directives" instead.
Do-Nothing Congress: [Scroll down] The Do-Nothing Congress also promised to correct the very real
problem of hidden legislative earmarks. But how was this done? By changing legislative procedure so
that these earmarks do not even show up in subcommittee reports, but are rather hidden even more deeply in conference
committee reports of appropriation bills. That makes the problem of abuse by earmark worse, not better.
Congress forgets ban on
pet projects. Get out the trough, it's feeding time. Congress has decided that an election
year with recession written all over it is not the time to be giving up those job-producing "pork" projects
bemoaned by both parties' presidential candidates.
After Dark: Remember those Congressional pledges of earmark reform? Democrats are hoping you
don't, as they try to pull a fast one and evade President Bush's pledge to block these special-interest spending
projects slipped into legislation without scrutiny.
$6.6 billion in special
projects rides on federal spending bill. A $630 billion spending bill nearing final
approval in Congress includes $6.6 billion for thousands of lawmakers' pet projects, including $51.5 million
requested by Democratic vice presidential nominee Joe Biden when both presidential candidates have sworn off
seeking any money. Taxpayers for Common Sense analyzed the 2,321 special-interest items called
"earmarks" in the spending bill.
Holds and Hotlines: The
Senate should not routinely pass legislation that spends millions or billions of taxpayer dollars without any debate or
opportunities for Senators to offer amendments. Under this current practice, the lack of a phone call from a staffer
constitutes unanimous consent of the 100 members of the Senate.
Most bills that are introduced expand the power,
authority and cost of the federal government.
ABC Highlights Dem Gluttony on Pork Spending. Of the three morning shows, only ABC's "Good
Morning America" highlighted the implications of a new report on pork barrel spending by the group Citizens
Against Government Waste [CAGW]. GMA was the sole network morning program to mention that Democrats broke
their campaign promise to cut such pork projects in half.
Distrust Fund: It's almost a
D.C. truism that anytime Congress creates a "trust fund" for a certain policy issue, the money flowing into
the fund will be diverted to something else. Government trust funds are set up with special taxes and
fees so that they will be less subject to normal budget constraints. That makes them desirable for
future Congresses to divert their proceeds to spend on pork. Payroll tax money in the Social Security
Trust Fund has for decades been emptied out to fund general government programs.
Bill jeered as
omnibus earmark full of pork. The Senate will soon consider legislation with an
impressive-sounding name — Advancing America's Priorities Act. But the bill being pushed
by Democratic leaders includes lots of lawmakers' pet priorities, such as a commission on the "Star-Spangled
Banner" and the War of 1812, $1.5 billion for the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority and
$5 million for a museum in Poland. The legislation lumps nearly 40 separate bills into one and
authorizes numerous "earmarks," the targeted spending for projects that Democrats often ridiculed as
pork-barrel when they swept into power 18 months ago.
Dr. No strikes again.
Senate Democratic leader Harry Reid tried to shove an $11.3 billion pork-barrel bill past the Republicans
last week but was gunned down by Oklahoman Tom Coburn and 39 of his friends. It was an embarrassing
defeat for Mr. Reid, who never met a spending bill he didn't like, and a sweet victory for Mr. Coburn
and his fellow Republicans who are trying to regain the trust of the GOP's disillusioned base as the party of
An Obamanomics Preview.
The latest ["stimulus"] plan is even worse than the spring round of $100 billion or so in tax rebate
checks. At least rebates allowed taxpayers to spend their own money. Under this stimulus the
government will tax or borrow $150 billion to $300 billion in order to spend the money on social
and pork-barrel programs. The latest draft would direct dollars to food stamps, another expansion in
unemployment insurance, home heating subsidies, more aid to states and cities, and "infrastructure" like
roads, bridges and public transit. Because of Davis-Bacon wage requirements on these brick and mortar
projects, a portion of the dollars would coincidentally flow to the Democrats' biggest campaign
contributors: unions. Call it a political "rebate" check.
The Obamessiah Of Pickpocket Politics.
There is no such thing as a free public feeding trough. Every penny in that trough came from the pockets of
fellow Americans who earned them and politicians, who pick those pockets as an expedient means of gaining
personal political power, are nothing more than thieves for hire.
For Christmas (For Some People). Earmarks amount to kickbacks for groups and projects within
individual Congressional districts and are well-known for their wastefulness. They are often, though not
always, intended to reward local campaign donors or personal friends. This year new rules in the House of
Representatives would prohibit the addition of earmarks added to a bill in conference, but because the Omnibus
spending bill is being treated as an amendment from the Senate, it is exempt from those rules.
Muggers, Sneak Thieves, and Con Men. Government sneak thieves
specialize in legislative
riders, budgetary add-ons and earmarks, logrolling, omnibus "Christmas tree" bills, and other gimmicks designed
to conceal the size, the beneficiaries, and sometimes even the existence of their theft. At the end of
the day, the taxpayers find there's nothing left in the till, but they have little or no idea where all of
their money went.
What has the
Democratic congress done? After taking back the Congress, the Dems made many lofty promises,
such as killing "earmark" legislation and ending "pork barrel" politics. Instead, we got a Congress that
was incapable of passing a reasonable budget and instead passed an "Omnibus" bill that supposedly funds the
federal government for the next few months. But the new Democratic Congress actually exceeded the old
GOP Congress in earmark spending.
Texas reaps $2.2 billion in earmarks.
Texas corralled $2.2 billion in special projects from the federal government this year, including $294,000 for a
Houston zoo program and $22 million for an Army gymnasium near El Paso.
Earmarks are bipartisan. Sen.
Hutchison was the state's most successful proponent of such spending in 2007, bringing home $254 million in
projects. Every other Texas lawmaker in Congress except one, Rep. Jeb Hensarling, R-Dallas, sought them.
U.S. senator wants probe of Coconut Road
earmark. An Oklahoma senator plans is planning to propose legislation next week that would force
a special congressional investigation to find out who set aside $10 million in a 2005 transportation
bill — after it won final House and Senate passage — to study a possible highway
interchange in Southwest Florida.
The Editor says...
How is it possible to add a $10 million spending project anonymously? As long as any spending bill or
amendment can be introduced anonymously, at any level of government, we're all in danger.
Sen. Coburn's Coconut Road
Amendment: The amendment would form a joint committee to investigate the secret $10 million
earmark for Florida's Coconut Road.
Senators Opt for Pork. According to Taxpayers for Common Sense, the five-term [Sen. Thad] Cochran
is the new congressional king of pork this year, with $774 million worth of earmarks in 12 spending bills.
He has dethroned his predecessor as the top GOP appropriator, Ted Stevens, a six-termer who is the senior
Republican in the Senate and now ranks second, with $502 million in pork.
'Earmark' cash aids
Democrat freshmen. A year ago, Democrats won control of Congress in part by criticizing billions
of dollars spent on pet projects. Now, freshmen Democrats are benefiting from the same kind of spending,
a USA TODAY analysis shows. All 49 of the new Democratic lawmakers sponsored or co-sponsored at
least one project — known as an "earmark" — inserted into the House and Senate spending
bills, the analysis found. Freshmen Democrats were the sole sponsors on projects worth $351 million,
an average of $7.6 million. Republicans got approval for projects worth $65 million, or
$5 million each.
will know if it's pork. The House adopts rules requiring lawmakers to disclose their earmarks.
new earmark rules won't stop corruption. Randy Cunningham, the former Republican representative
from California who has retired to a prison work camp in Arizona, is dictating the congressional agenda now more
than he ever did when he was in office. … Nearly every story about earmark reform, which is supposed to
discourage legislators from using narrowly targeted spending to curry favor with donors and constituents,
Congress Oinks its Way to a Spending
Bill. If character is what we do when we think nobody is looking, then congressional leaders
responsible for the 3,500-plus-page Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2008 have a lot of explaining to do.
They should start by telling us why they posted their "omnibus spending bill" on the Internet only hours before
voting on it and in a format that made searching the text laborious, at best.
Madison to America: This Is What We Warned You About. James Madison wrote a pro-constitution
editorial (known to history as Federalist 10), that described in prescient terms precisely why political
factions are dangerous. When there is liberty, he argued, some men will create more wealth than others.
Property and class factions are the result. Members of these different economic classes are tempted to
pass laws which help themselves at the expense of the overall public good. Over time this excessive
self-regard distorts the gift of reason and causes people to think and speak in ways that seem strange to
the country at large.
Pork Barrel Stonewall: The
Democratic majority came to power in January promising to do a better job on earmarks. They appeared to
preserve our reforms and even take them a bit further. I commended Democrats publicly for this action.
Unfortunately, the leadership reversed course. Desperate to advance their agenda, they began trading
earmarks for votes, dangling taxpayer-funded goodies in front of wavering members to win their support for
A wink, a whisper
and a pet project is funded. As federal prosecutors try to dig deeper into the spending practices
of New Jersey legislators, they might struggle to identify an elementary piece of any case — the paper
trail. Senators and Assembly members added more than $1.25 billion in last-minute spending
to the state budget in the past five years, agreeing to let taxpayers fund pet projects that typically
escape public disclosure or debate.
will let Craig keep his earmarks. Senate Republican leaders have backed off from pressuring
Sen. Larry Craig (R-Idaho) to resign his seat, giving the beleaguered lawmaker a glimpse of hope that he
may last in Congress long enough to save his career.
Flake still preaching
against earmarks. Although [Congressman Jeff] Flake did prevail against the Christmas-tree
funding, he lost by wide margins on votes to cut other earmarks that would seem easy targets for budget
hawks. Take, for example, a $250,000 grant for a wine and culinary center in Prosser, Wash. Or
$100,000 for a hunting and fishing museum in Tionesta, Pa. Or $628,843 to pay for grape genetics
research at Cornell University.
Study: For Sixth Straight Year,
No One in Congress Had Voting Agenda to Cut Federal Spending. Members of Congress voted to spend
an average of more than $150 million of taxpayer funds for every hour they were in session during 2005 and
2006 — just one of many fascinating observations made in the non-partisan National Taxpayers Union
Foundation's (NTUF's) latest VoteTally study. Since 2001, not a single Senator or Representative has cast
votes whose net effect would reduce the level of federal outlays.
Earmark Cover-Up: Voters opted for
change in Congress, but on earmarks it looks as if they'll only be getting more smoke and mirrors.
Democrats promised reform and instituted "a moratorium" on all earmarks until the system was cleaned up.
Now the appropriations committees are privately accepting pork-barrel requests again.
The King Of Pork — Part II.
"Earmarks" are better known as "pork." Basically, they are paybacks to political cronies or ways to
bring money to a politico's voters to make sure he or she is re-elected. They are usually unrelated
to the bill to which they are attached, but the porkers won't vote for the necessary parts of the bill unless
their payback is included. The worst part is that most pork is for unnecessary and unwanted projects.
the fat from pork-barrel politics. The 109th Republican Congress, in one of its last acts before
adjournment, responded to the demands of voters to end the pork-barrel spending madness — at least
for now. A pack of conservative Republican warriors, led by Sens. Jim DeMint of South Carolina, Tom
Coburn of Oklahoma and Jeff Sessions of Alabama, blocked a giant, fat-filled omnibus spending bill that was
stuffed with more than 10,000 waste-ridden, earmarked pork projects that would have cost $17 billion.
Pork products in the Emergency Economic Stabilization Act of 2008
and the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009
Act spent over 600 million dollars on climate change research. The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA), better known as the stimulus act or stimulus package, was passed with the
stated goal of helping our economy. It was meant to create jobs and boost consumer spending. Opponents of the nearly $1 trillion act
pointed out that many of the provisions had nothing to do with helping the economy.
Bailout funds being spent in ways Congress never foresaw. In short, what
once was disparagingly referred to as bailout for Wall Street now looks like a broader bailout of all sorts of troubled businesses. Some lawmakers
and outside analysts question whether that's serving the public interest as intended — or whether it's becoming a taxpayer-financed giveaway
to favored firms.
Chicago-to-Detroit high-speed rail 'positioned' to receive stimulus funds. The Obama administration
said Friday [3/20/2009] that a Chicago-to-Detroit high-speed rail plan is "well positioned" to receive federal stimulus funding, according to a state
lawmaker. Michigan House Speaker Pro Tem Pam Byrnes said the description came from Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood during a day of meetings at
the White House on the stimulus plan.
Pay raise for judges tucked into bailout plan. If
the $14 billion bailout plan for U.S. automakers passes, it will help more than just Ford, Chrysler and General Motors. Federal judges
would get a pay raise, as well. The raise — an annual cost of living adjustment, or COLA — would bring U.S. District court
judges up to par with members of Congress, who will receive an almost $5,000 boost on Jan. 1.
Piggy Pols in Hog Heaven with
Pork-Packed Pact. Congressional deal-brookers yesterday slopped a mess of pork into the $700 billion financial rescue bill passed by
the Senate last night — including a tax break for makers of kids' wooden arrows — in a bid to lure reluctant lawmakers into voting
for the package. Stuffed into the 451-page bill are more than $1.7 billion worth of targeted tax breaks to be doled out for a sty full of
eyebrow-raising purposes over the next decade. ... Some of the pork-barrel measures buried in the financial rescue package had been contained in a bill
that previously passed the Senate, but died in the House.
'I am the Speaker of the House'.
To hear her aides and associates tell it, Pelosi entered last week on her best bipartisan behavior, hoping that
billions in tax cuts would be enough to lure six to 10 Republican House members to vote for the $819 billion
stimulus plan. To Republicans, it was a typical Pelosi pose — and they accused her of ramming
one of the biggest spending bills in history down their throats while scaling back President Barack Obama's
tax-cut proposal to fund 40 years' worth of liberal wish-list items.
Transit Gets Stimulated. Greens are lining up at the stimulus trough to fund a wish list of
alternative-energy boondoggles. But an old green favorite — public transit — is
also looking to sneak a few million through the back door while the gettin' is good. Sen. Harry Reid's
Vegas-to-L.A. train has gotten the headlines, but with a staggering $8 billion in stimulus set aside for
public transit, every pol with a pet rail program is looking to bring home the bacon.
Bailout bill gives tax break to NASCAR.
A tax break for NASCAR racetracks and other motor-sports facilities is among the "sweeteners" tucked inside a 450-page
financial-services bailout bill to make the package more palatable to lawmakers. The Senate-passed bill includes
an array of so-called "tax extenders."
bill loops in green tech, IRS snooping. Last week, the Bush administration proposed a
three-page bill to bail out Wall Street to the tune of $700 billion. It died in the U.S. House of
Representatives earlier this week. On Friday [10/3/2008], though, the House approved a far bigger,
broader, and beefier version of the bill — which has ballooned to a remarkable 442 pages.
Tax Earmarks, Pork and Other Bailout Bill
-- "Wooden arrows designed for use by children" This provision was put
into the bill by Oregon Senators Smith and Wyden for the primary benefit of an Oregon arrow
estimated to save arrow companies $200,000 annually.
-- "Motorsports racing track facilities" A Bloomberg article
notes this "will save NASCAR track builders $109 million this year."
-- Rum producers in Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands
-- Investors in the District of Columbia or on Indian reservations.
The connection between that pork and freeing the credit market from the
burden of sub-prime mortgages isn't quite clear.
Using panic to pass pork:
Here are some of the special-interest provisions that are now part of the Wall Street bailout legislation.
The bill started at 3 pages, grew to 106 pages, and is now 451 pages.
• Film and Television Productions (Sec. 502)
• Wooden Arrows designed for use by children (Sec. 503)
• 6 page package of earmarks for litigants in the 1989 Exxon Valdez incident, Alaska (Sec. 504)
• Virgin Island and Puerto Rican Rum (Section 308)
• American Samoa (Sec. 309)
• Mine Rescue Teams (Sec. 310)
• Mine Safety Equipment (Sec. 311)
• Domestic Production Activities in Puerto Rico (Sec. 312)
• Indian Tribes (Sec. 314, 315)
• Railroads (Sec. 316)
• Auto Racing Tracks (317)
• District of Columbia (Sec. 322)
• Wool Research (Sec. 325)
inside bailout bill: Another measure inserted into the bill appears to be a bald-faced bid
aimed at winning the support of Rep. Don Young (R-Alaska), who voted against the original version when it
went down in flames in the House on Monday. That provision — a $223 million package of tax
benefits for fishermen and others whose livelihoods suffered as a result of the 1989 Exxon Valdez
oil spill — has been the subject of fervent lobbying by Alaska's congressional delegation.
Bailout Bill Is Rife With Tasty
Green Pork. Clean technology companies of all sorts are cheering the green pork that legislators
added to the $700-billion Wall Street bailout bill that passed Congress last week. Extensions to tax
credits for wind and solar power producers finally got their long-awaited passage, but a slate of more obscure
provisions could help drive new interest in a diverse array of green businesses, including geothermal, solar
thermal, tidal, and wave power, plug-in hybrid cars, and energy efficiency aids.
Wonderful, Magical Green Bailout. Much has been said and written in recent days about how "The
liberal uses crises, real or manufactured, to expand the power of government at the expense of the individual
and private property." The current financial situation is surely no different. What is striking
is how brazen are the attempts we are seeing to attach pet schemes to the bailout's coattails.
Spoonful of pork may help bitter economic
pill go down. The Senate's financial rescue plan may have a better chance of passage because
it's padded with pork that may be tasty enough to get reluctant House members to bite. Most of the
$110 billion in additions, such as a tax credit for research and development and an increase in
insurance for bank accounts, would have broad economic impact. The benefits of others, though, may not
be so evident to most taxpayers.
Your TARP Money at
work — Pork for Barney Frank. We have been told we are in a horrible financial crisis that might
bring down the banking system in America. ... Well, I've got good news and bad news. The good news is that
we have finally tracked down where some of the money is actually being spent. The bad news is that Barney
Frank who is playing politics as usual, porked $12 million in an earmark to some banking cronies in his home
OneUnited sought Frank's help for TARP
funds. Boston's OneUnited Bank received $12 million in federal rescue funds last month just weeks after
regulators issued a cease-and-desist order to overhaul some of its lending and executive compensation practices. ... The
Wall Street Journal reported Thursday that the tiny bank received the bailout money after gaining influential support from
Massachusetts congressman and House Financial Services Committee Chairman Barney Frank.
Frank helped controversial black-owned bank gain money. U.S. Rep. Barney Frank yesterday [1/22/2009]
defended helping Boston's OneUnited Bank land $12 million in federal funding, despite regulatory complaints its
executives were getting "excessive" pay and even a Porshe for its CEO. Frank, head of the powerful House Financial
Services Committee, acknowledged that last fall he inserted into the government's $700 billion Troubled Assets
Relief Program bill specific language to help OneUnited, New England's only black-owned bank.
hypocrisy: Ah, the dirty little secret is out. That $700 billion TARP (Troubled Asset Relief
Program) bill was in part simply a variation on congressional pork — except this time the recipients were
banks with friends in high places. One of those powerful friends was Rep. Barney Frank (D-Newton), chairman of
the House Financial Services Committee.
DOE Inspector General: Over 100 Criminal Investigations
Of Obama Stimulus Spending. The Inspector General of the Energy Department, Gregory Friedman, has been
investigating the fate of the $35.2 billion his department received from the Obama "stimulus" disaster in
2009. ... You'll be delighted to know that more than a hundred criminal investigations were launched into Energy's
handling of its mere 4% of the Obama stimulus. Friedman says "these involve various schemes, including the
submission of false information, claims for unallowable or unauthorized expenses, and other improper uses of Recovery
Act funds." Five criminal prosecutions have resulted, and over $2.3 million in stolen "stimulus" loot has
H.R.1: The House's Pig Pen.
The pork-laden American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 passed by Democrats in the House is a huge pig
pen. [Excerpts from the items requested by the Department of Agriculture:] $5,838,000,000 — Rural
Development Programs, Rural Community Advancement Program; $22,129,000,000 — Rural Housing Service,
Rural Housing Insurance Fund Program Account; $2,825,000,000 — Rural Utilities Service, Distance
Learning, Telemedicine, and Broadband Program; ...
do the stimulus horror stories end? The Obama administration handed $7.2 million to four Oregon
logging companies to hire loggers in a severely depressed industry. But according to a Department of Labor
inspector general report, only two of jobs thus funded went to U.S. citizens: "Only two Oregonians were
listed on the employer recruitment reports, indicating that workers in Oregon were likely unaware these job
opportunities were available. In fact, although 146 U.S. workers were contacted by the three employers
regarding possible employment, none were hired. Instead, 254 foreign workers were brought into the
country for these jobs."
Obama Stimulus Spending Includes
Rental Cars, Outhouses, and 'Sediment Removal'. Among the many things that have been built with
stimulus money so far are:
- $971,711.42 to "replace pond liners" at the Garrison Dam National Fish Hatchery in Cole Harbor, N.D.
- $193,077 for a "double-vault toilet building" at the Hoyer Campground in Spokane, Wash.
- $487,944 for "toilet buildings and vaults" in the Pike and San Isabel National Forests
- $254,000 for "pre-fabricated restroom facilities" in Atlanta, Ga.
- $17,110 in hotel bills at a Marriott Hotel in Arlington, Va., for the Employment Standards
Administration's annual "Prevailing Wage Conference."
Stimulus Goes to the Dogs.
Yep. That's a state-of-the-art dog park, paid for with stimulus money.
Stimulus Money Being Wasted. Among the projects singled out for criticism in the report:
· A half million dollars for new windows at the Mt. St. Helens visitors center in Amboy,
Washington. The building has been closed since 2007 and there are no immediate plans to reopen it.
· $6.9 million dollars for repairs to an 1846 brick fort marooned on Dry Tortuga at the end the
Florida Keys. Few people can visit this remote national park unless they hire a seaplane or take
a four-hour round-trip boat ride.
· Creating a museum in an abandoned train station in Glasboro, NJ, at the cost of $1.2 million.
· $2 million dollars to send researchers from the California Academy of Sciences to islands in
the Indian Ocean to study exotic ants.
More On The Democrat "Stimulus"
Plan: Here are just a few of the programs and projects that have been included in the House
$650 million for digital TV coupons.
$6 billion for colleges/universities — many which have billion dollar endowments.
$166 billion in direct aid to states — many of which have failed to budget wisely.
$50 million in funding for the National Endowment of the Arts.
$44 million for repairs to U.S. Department of Agriculture headquarters.
$200 million for the National Mall, including grass planting.
$400 million for "National Treasures."
$800 billion, and something for everyone.
$99,600 for doorbells in Laurel, Miss. This will create two jobs, not to mention making it
easier for the Avon Lady. ...
$500,000 for a dog park in Chula Vista, Calif. There are many dog parks on this list. ...
$3,450,000 to "rehabilitate" sidewalks in Alexandria, Va. There's a rehab center for sidewalks?
This will create 46 jobs.
Stimulus Plan Is Full Of Pork Projects.
· $600 million to buy hybrid vehicles for federal employees.
· $150 million for Smithsonian museum facilities.
· $75 million for "smoking cessation activities."
· $200 million for public computer centers at community colleges.
· $10 million to inspect canals in urban areas.
· $6 billion to turn federal buildings into "green" buildings.
· $1.2 billion for "youth activities," including youth summer job programs.
· $500 million for building and repairing National Institutes of Health facilities in Bethesda, Maryland.
· $160 million for "paid volunteers" at the Corporation for National and Community Service.
· $850 million for Amtrak.
· $100 million for reducing the hazard of lead-based paint.
· $110 million to the Farm Service Agency to upgrade computer systems.
· $200 million in funding for the lease of alternative energy vehicles for
use on military installations.
Obama package focuses mainly on
alternative power sources. "There's not a lot of oil and gas" money in the stimulus bill, said
Rep. Gene Green, D-Houston. Instead, President Barack Obama's package focuses most of its attention, and
an expected $54 billion or more in energy spending, on renewable and alternative power sources, not on
the fossil fuel production of Houston's major oil companies.
porkulus dollars down the toilet. At least 2.8 million dollars of porkulus money will be
flushed down the drain — literally. In remote areas of one of the nation's least populous
states, New Mexico, the Obama administration has decided to spend almost three million of your tax dollars
"repairing and replacing aging toilets in three of the state's national forests," some toilets "as old as
20 years." ... Doing the math, that would equate to something like $125,000-$150,000 per restroom.
$300 Million for Golf
carts/Hybrids in Stimulus. $300 million has been allocated in the stimulus bill for modern
golf carts and other forms of environmentally friendly modes of transportation. The Democrats thought
they could fool you by renaming the money earmarked for golf carts in the stimulus bill as paying for
"neighborhood electric vehicles" and "low speed motor vehicles."
"Tiny" Trillion-Dollar Turbaconducken You Don't Care About. [Scroll down] According to House Speaker
Nancy Pelosi's fantasyland "fact sheet" released early Thursday afternoon, [2/12/2009] "there are no earmarks or pet
projects" in the final package. Trust her no further than you could throw a pot-bellied pig. Despite the
self-delusional declarations of Pelosi and President Obama that no pet projects exist, Hill staffers spilled the beans
on several new set-asides tacked onto the bill.
The Buck Always Stops with Taxpayers. Since
Obama took office a short three weeks ago, he has proposed a second $1 trillion "stimulus package," which reads like
the greatest pork orgy in human history, and makes FDR's New Deal look like a Raw Deal for Americans permanently affixed
to the public teat. [It includes]
$150 million for emergency food assistance
$100 million for "Education and Human Resources"
$500 million for repair and replacement of schools, jails, roads, bridges, housing and more for Bureau of Indian Affairs
$8.4 billion in "State and Tribal Assistance Grants"
$550 million for Indian Health facilities
$1.2 billion in grants to states for youth summer jobs programs and other activities
$50 million in grants to fund "arts projects and activities"
$1 billion for Low-Income Home Energy Assistance
$2 billion in Child Care and Development Block Grants for states
$1 billion for Head Start programs
$1.1 billion for Early Head Start programs
$5.5 billion in targeted education grants
$160 million for AmeriCorps grants
$500 million in Native American Housing Block Grants
$1.5 billion in homeless prevention activities
So far, it's been Obamateur
Hour. The hideous drooling blob of toxic pustules dignified as the "stimulus" bill is something the incoming
Obama had months to prepare for and oodles of bipartisan goodwill and fawning press coverage to waft him along on.
Instead, he chose to outsource it to Nancy Pelosi, Harry Reid, Barney Frank and the rest of the congressional pork
barons. So that, too, is not an "event" but merely, like his Cabinet picks, a matter of judgment and executive
Obama's pork barrel
is open — and it is stinking. Stimulus is one of those neutral, unexceptional words that is suddenly
appropriated by politicians and debauched, so that ever after it will have connotations that are sinister, ironic and
sleaze-ridden. Barack Obama's "stimulus" plan will be long remembered as the occasion when political euphemism
triggered economic disaster. There is no terminology available to express adequately the appalling irresponsibility
of this naked political banditry. To have squandered a fraction of the near-$1 trillion cost of Obama's pork
barrel in days of prosperity would have been more than reprehensible; to do so at a time of financial crisis is unforgivable.
They don't want a "stimulus". There is a principle called "Occam's Razor," which has been
interpreted to mean that the simplest of two competing theories is usually the right one. This comes to
mind as President Obama and the flying monkey minions in Congress scramble frantically to ram a trillion dollar
"stimulus" bill down American's throats with no debate, no discussion, and almost no understanding of what is
in it. And what is in it makes it abundantly clear that this is no "stimulus." It is riddled
with hundreds of billions of dollars in pork, payoffs to special interest groups, massive increases in welfare
spending, new and more bloated federal bureaucracies. What's worse, we don't actually have the money for
any of it. It will have to be taxed, printed, and borrowed, all of which will make our economic situation worse, not better.
Handout sure to stimulate a lot of scams. This
so-called economic stimulus act is going to spur more crime than anything Congress has passed since
the Volstead Act. ... Take the weatherization plan. ... Low-income homeowners will soon be getting
grants of up to $5,000 to weatherize their homes and thus reduce our dependence on foreign oil, wink
wink, nudge, nudge. Soon "contractors" will be setting up shop in the inner cities, recruiting marks, doing the
paperwork that allows them to apply for a grant. The first $500 will go to the program supervisor, to get him to
sign off on a patently fraudulent project. Then the homeowner will get $1,000 cash, to keep his mouth shut when
nothing is actually done. And finally, another $500 cash will be duked to the inspector who signs off on the,
ahem, work. Profit per job: $3,000. You don't think this will happen? It already does —
every time there's a disaster.
States, Nonprofits Jockey for 'Weatherizing'
Funds. President Barack Obama wants to make a million houses a year more energy efficient as part of
his goal to create thousands of "green" jobs and reduce U.S. carbon emissions. But the administration's push to
expand an obscure antipoverty program into a centerpiece of that initiative is stirring debate over the best way
to use a flash flood of federal stimulus dollars.
Dept. weatherization programs rife with waste, fraud. In total, the stimulus program allocated
about $5 billion to the cause of home weatherization, outfitting homes with the latest green technology
in order to reduce energy prices. It's now three years later, and it appears the weatherization program
has gone down a road of waste, fraud and abuse.
No Consensus on "Stimulus"
Bill. [Obama] said: "What do you think a stimulus is? It's spending. That's the whole point!"
With all due respect, sir, that's not the whole point. Even the "nonpartisan" Congressional Budget Office and
your fellow Keynesians concede that not all spending has the same stimulative effect. But we know you know that, sir,
and that you are not about to let this "crisis go to waste." You have loaded up this bill with your party's pent-up
wish list of pet pork projects and political payoffs: $345 million for Agriculture Department computers,
$650 million for TV converter boxes, $15 billion for college scholarships, and untold, obscene amounts for
ACORN-like "community organizing".
slated for $30M slice of cheese. A tiny mouse with the longtime backing of a political giant may soon reap
the benefits of the economic-stimulus package. Lawmakers and administration officials divulged Wednesday that the
$789 billion economic stimulus bill being finalized behind closed doors in Congress includes $30 million for
wetlands restoration that the Obama administration intends to spend in the San Francisco Bay Area to protect, among other
things, the endangered salt marsh harvest mouse.
Stimulus has $30M to save
Pelosi's harvest mouse. Other spending questioned by Republicans, and not considered on the chopping block,
are $275 million for flood prevention, $200 million for public computer centers at community colleges and
libraries and $650 million for the digital TV converter box coupons. The list goes on: $1 billion for
administrative costs and construction of National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration office buildings, $100 million
for constructing U.S. Marshals office buildings, and $1.3 billion for NASA, including $450 million tagged for
science. Then there is the $300 million for hybrid and electric cars for the federal government, which include
golf carts for federal workers to tool around in.
'Historic' Stimulus Is Egregious Waste.
Consider what's in this monster: It overflows with pork — $2 billion to ACORN, an anti-capitalist "community"
group that's been accused of voter registration fraud; $30 million to restore wetlands and save the endangered salt
marsh harvest mouse in the San Francisco Bay Area (a Nancy Pelosi project); another $1 billion for a Prevention and
Wellness Fund for education programs on sexually transmitted diseases. Tens of billions will be spent on high-speed
rail lines, which will be of little practical use but of great political service, and projects to expand high-speed
Internet access in rural areas.
Bill Contains Many Items That May Not Boost Economy. Democratic leaders are hailing the economic stimulus bill
as a way to "invest quickly into the economy," but according to a Wall Street Journal estimate, only about 12 cents of
every dollar will actually go to "something that can plausibly be considered a growth stimulus."
Carts. The federal government is preparing to spend millions to purchase a fleet of small electric vehicles
that critics compare to golf carts. The $838 billion economic stimulus bill that passed the Senate yesterday
contains $300 million for the government to purchase a fleet of "green" cars. But the money won't just go to
buy fuel-efficient hybrids such as the Ford Escape or Chevy Volt. The cash also can be used to purchase "neighborhood
and Pelosi choreograph the stimulus con. [Harry] Reid offered this
interesting observation during debate about the content of the bill, saying "the main direction is tax cuts,
people are really needful of money. About 58% of it is job creating." So if the purpose of the
stimulus bill is to spark economic growth and job creation, why not get rid of the 42 percent the Senate
Majority Leader admits isn't about those two goals? The reason, of course, is that the Democratic
majorities under Reid and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi are hell-bent to serve up a porkfest of unmatched
magnitude for their favored special interests.
bill funds ACORN despite its history of corruption. A multi-million dollar liberal non-profit
activist conglomerate reportedly under federal investigation may get a big piece of the economic recovery
stimulus pie now under consideration by Congress. It's the Association of Community Organizations for
Reform Now —the infamous ACORN. That's right. ACORN, the activist group that has been
implicated in voter fraud and registration deception in at least 14 states may get the financial
bailout it needs to pull off another round of schemes in the next election season.
Bill to Help Hollywood. Finally, Democrats have found a tax-cut they can support — one
that puts even more money in the pockets of Barbara Streisand, Michael Moore and the rest of their pals in
Tinseltown. Big Hollywood opened its hearts — and fat wallets — to get President
Obama into the White House and give Democrats both chambers of Congress and now it's time to return the love.
Yells 'Cut!' To Boo$t For H'Wood. Senate Republicans yesterday stripped a special $246 million
tax break for Hollywood producers from President Obama's stimulus package. This isn't stimulus. This
is a gift," said Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.), who wrote the amendment to strike out the giveaway for some of
the Democrats' most generous political supporters.
movie-industry tax break from stimulus bill. The motion picture industry's record-setting month
at the box office may have cost it $246 million in tax breaks, as the Senate on Tuesday stripped a
provision from the economic stimulus bill that critics derided as an unnecessary Hollywood bailout. In
denying the tax breaks on new film projects, senators cited the $1.03-billion haul from movie ticket sales in
January, a 19% year-over-year increase, according to industry tracking firm Media by Numbers.
Mayor Seeking Bailout Money for $15 Billion Airport Albatross. Now that Governor Rod Blagojevich
is, politically speaking, pushing up daises, attention in the Land of Lincoln is going to be drawn to efforts
by Chicago's Mayor Daley to latch on to a portion of the coming "stimulus package" in order to fund his dream
of expanding O'Hare Airport.
Stimulus Brings Out City Wish
Lists: Neon for Vegas, Harleys for Shreveport. Las Vegas, which by some accounts
already glitters, wants $2 million for neon signs. Boynton Beach, Fla., is looking for
$4.5 million for an "eco park" featuring butterfly gardens and gopher tortoises. And Chula
Vista, Calif., would like $500,000 to create a place for dogs to run off the leash. These are
among 18,750 projects listed in "Ready to Go," the U.S. Conference of Mayors' wish list for funding
from the stimulus bill moving through Congress.
A Sham "Stimulus".
Every so often Congress gets hold of a bill that simply must pass. A defense spending bill, say, during
war time. So lawmakers exploit the situation, tacking on pet projects that have nothing to do with
defense. This year's must-pass bill is a "stimulus" measure. True to form, Congress has loaded
the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 with hundreds of billions in wasteful spending.
cash still in bill. Senate Democrats, mocked over trying to stimulate the economy with
$475 million to fight smoking and sexually transmitted diseases, removed the programs from the
economic recovery package on Tuesday. But the money remains. And, yes, it can still be tapped to
help smokers quit and to prevent the spread of STDs.
$825 Billion Stimulus Plan to Pay
for New Windows, Day Care, Cable TV. The $825 billion government stimulus package unveiled by
congressional Democrats on Friday [1/16/2009] contains billions of dollars in government spending supposedly
designed to create jobs and stimulate the economy. However, the package also contains a host of items
congressional leaders rarely mention, including hundreds of millions of dollars for cable TV boxes, new
windows in government housing, and day care, among numerous other economic stimulus programs.
Now, Back To Our Regularly Scheduled Spending Orgy. [Scroll down] The other incontrovertible
truth about this massive wealth transfer is that Washington cannot stop the inevitable lard-up. The original
concept of spending on "roads and bridges" has morphed into spending on anything and everything that moves or
can be moved. Every moocher in the marketplace wants his grubby paws on the money. And if his or
her provision isn't already written into the Democrats' legislation, it will get slipped in under the cover
Lobbyists skirt Obama's
earmark ban. President Barack Obama's ban on earmarks in the $825 billion economic stimulus bill doesn't
mean interest groups, lobbyists and lawmakers won't be able to funnel money to pet projects. They're just working
around it — and perhaps inadvertently making the process more secretive.
Republicans Object to Stimulus Dollars for ACORN. Republican
lawmakers are raising concerns that ACORN, the low-income advocacy group under investigation for voter
registration fraud, could be eligible for billions in aid from the economic stimulus proposal working its way
through the House. House Republican Leader John Boehner issued a statement over the weekend noting that
the stimulus bill wending its way through Congress provides $4.19 billion for "neighborhood stabilization
If it walks like a
duck: Remember the group ACORN? These are the good folks who, in the name of community
activism, registered dead people to vote, registered the same person multiple times and even registered Mickey
Mouse to vote. They have run afoul of the law in multiple states for their "community activities".
Put simply, this is an organization that is doing its best to destroy the electoral process with bogus
voting — and now they want us to pay for it! The new stimulus plan wants to reward these
fine folks and help them grow their activities.
ACORN's Stimulus. With a
new president ensconced in the White House, it's time to roll out the goodies for loyal supporters in
left-of-center political advocacy groups such as ACORN. The latest economic stimulus bill promises to
do just that by providing a huge bailout — up to $5.2 billion in taxpayer funds —
for some of the same liberal groups that helped get Barack Obama elected. The three relevant fiscal
provisions are buried deep in the $825 billion monstrosity known as the proposed "American Recovery and
Reinvestment Act of 2009."
Obama's Bill Hands
ACORN $5.2 Billion Bailout. A rising chorus of GOP leaders are protesting that the blockbuster
Democratic stimulus package would provide up to a whopping $5.2 billion for ACORN, the left-leaning
nonprofit group under federal investigation for massive voter fraud. Most of the money is secreted away
under an item in the now $836 billion package titled "Neighborhood Stabilization Programs."
Good Morning, Suckers.
Barack Obama and Congressional Democrats are playing the voters for fools with the so-called stimulus package.
The massive $825 billion package is not even targeted on programs to stimulate the economy. Instead,
it is laced with runaway government spending for increased welfare, overgrown bureaucracy, pork, political
payoffs, and other waste.
A 40-Year Wish List: You won't
believe what's in that stimulus bill. We've looked it over, and even we can't quite believe
it. There's $1 billion for Amtrak, the federal railroad that hasn't turned a profit in 40 years;
$2 billion for child-care subsidies; $50 million for that great engine of job creation, the National
Endowment for the Arts; $400 million for global-warming research and another $2.4 billion for
carbon-capture demonstration projects.
Republicans Won. In a stunning
turn of events, House Republicans won a critical symbolic victory yesterday [1/28/2009] in uniting against Obama's
$1 trillion phony economic "stimulus" plan. Republicans did the right thing yesterday. Even ABC's Good
Morning America, normally a hotbed of support for Democrats and Democrat causes, faithfully reported that the bill
seemed little more than a huge serving of pork.
Obama's First Fumble.
Last week America blew a raspberry at the House "stimulus" bill. The Wall Street Journal edit page reckoned
it out at about 12 percent stimulus. What about the other 88 percent? It was mostly the
usual liberal special-interest spending, 40 years of pent-up pet projects.
Coburn Releases Stimulus Oversight Report. Ten examples of wasteful stimulus projects in the report include:
[#7] $1.15 million for installation of a new guard rail for the non-existent Optima Lake in Oklahoma.
[#8] Nearly $10 million to renovate an abandoned train station that hasn't been used in 30 years.
[#9] 10,000 dead people get stimulus checks, but the Social Security Administration blames a tough deadline.
News: Stimulus Money Grounds Flying Turtles! This is the kind of quote we jaded waste
warriors wait for. Today's AP has a story about the fact that Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) released a
preliminary report on how states are using stimulus money. In his 45-page report, ... Dr. Coburn
mentions $3.4 million that was used by the Florida Department of Transportation to construct an
"eco-passage" on I 27, which is really a little tunnel under a road for wildlife trying to cross,
especially turtles which, as you can imagine, just don't have the steam to get across the roads without being
crushed. It gets so much better, though, because in this "say-anything" culture, it isn't enough to
defend this ridiculous use of federal tax dollars by just saying it saves turtles (and by the way, wasn't
the goal of the $787 billion "stim" bill to save jobs?).
Flying Turtles, part two.
My earlier post on how $3.4 million in "stimulus" money is being used by the Florida State Department of
Transportation to build an eco-passage for turtles elicited a humorous response from a "shell-shocked" Florida
resident, Russell Price, a self-employed businessman in real estate development and concerned taxpayer.
Is Obama laundering federal money to GE through
Michigan? General Electric is getting yet more taxpayer money, possibly laundered federal money,
to subsidize its business. A GE press release announced that the state of Michigan will provide GE with
$60 million to build a $100 million "technology & software center" — what used to be
known as an "office building." While the source of the Michigan subsidy could be Michigan taxpayers,
given how strapped the state is from auto industry losses, it's quite possible that the Obama administration
is funneling U.S. taxpayer stimulus money through Michigan to GE.
stimulus, please. Only $56.3 billion of the $787 billion stimulus has been paid out, yet the
push is coming to persuade us to spend more money on top of money that hasn't even been spent yet. By now it's
clear that what little of the taxpayer-funded stimulus has been spent has created pork, not jobs. That's why news
reports keep coming about things like stimulus projects placing rails around non-existent lakes and redecorating old
words. The feds have spent millions in stimulus cash on "silly" projects, including left-leaning
puppet shows, a martini bar, and a study of Viking civic life, according to a devastating new report.
says Mark Penn got a $2.8 million stimulus contract. According to its October 2009 quarterly
finance report, the Hillary Clinton for President campaign has one outstanding debt: $995,500 owed to
Penn, Schoen & Berland Associates, LLC, which is run by Democratic pollster Mark Penn. According to The
Hill today, the same firm received a $2.8 million stimulus subcontract "for media services and outreach
to help prepare 'unready' households for the DTV transition" — a contract that Republican
Senators contend was "pure waste."
Penn's two firms got $6 million from stimulus for PR campaign. Nearly $6 million in
stimulus money was paid to two firms run by Mark Penn, Hillary Clinton's pollster in 2008. Federal
records show that $5.97 million from the $787 billion stimulus helped preserve three jobs at
Burson-Marsteller, the global public-relations and communications firm headed by Penn.
Christmas: Cash for Corruptocrats. According to a new study by the Mercatus Center at
George Mason University, Democratic districts have raked in nearly twice as much porkulus money as GOP
districts — without regard to the actual economic suffering and job loss in those
districts. ... [including] Barack Obama's home state of Illinois, which reaped the single biggest earmark in
the porkulus bill — $1 billion for the dubious FutureGen near-zero emissions "clean coal"
plant earmark championed by disgraced Democrat and former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich and Senate
Majority Whip Dick Durbin.
Christmas from the IRS: Another Year of Government Dysfunction. The internal watchdogs at the
Treasury have just published a report showing that it is almost impossible to verify eligibility for the
special interest tax breaks in the so-called stimulus. ... To be fair, even a competent government agency
might have trouble making a bad law work, and the $787 [sic] boondoggle was rushed through the legislative
process with very little — if any — attention paid to anything other than funneling
other people's money to special interest groups.
stimulus dollars, not really at work in New Hampshire. At least the Alaska "Bridge to Nowhere"
would have crossed a body of water. Not so with this stimulus project.
Arrows Will Save America: Those of us deep in the American hinterlands may be excused for questioning
the wooden arrow excise-tax exemption and all the manifold other bizarre insertions into the federal bailout bill.
Of course it seems to us very strange that, for a bill supposed to ward off financial collapse so imminent as
to be mere hours away, our congressmen are tripping over themselves to stuff it with all kinds of trivial earmarks,
special favors and graft. They don't seem to be acting like people desperate to avert a crisis. They
seem to be acting like contestants in a game show trying to grab all the dollars before time runs out.
10 Tax Sweeteners in the Bailout Bill: [For example] Sec. 602. Transfer to abandoned mine
reclamation fund: Transfers interest earned on money in the abandoned mine reclamation fund to the
United Mine Workers of America Combined Benefit Fund, which helps pay health benefits for retired miners
and their dependents who worked under collective bargaining agreements that promised lifetime health-care
Up the Rescue Bill: But at least one [of the "sweeteners"] was huge — a $3.5 billion
measure intended to force health-insurance companies to cover mental illness as they do physical sickness.
Now, most of this wasn't spending — but, instead, targeted tax relief (or social policy disguised
as such). And many weren't even part of the rescue bill itself. Rather they were included
in a tax-relief measure that passed the Senate, 93-2, weeks ago, and which has been attached to the
larger measure. Things are getting out of hand.
Read the bailout bill for yourself.
Midwest seek the $8 billion for fast trains. The Republicans attacking President Barack Obama's economic
stimulus package point to a project they dub the "Sin Express" — a high speed rail link between Anaheim,
Calif., site of Disneyland, and Las Vegas.
This is an original
compilation, Copyright © 2013 by Andrew K. Dart
Representative John Murtha (D-PA)
Congress cowers before
reigning King of Pork. In a Congress filled with fiefdoms of special-interest spending, one man is
king — Rep. John Murtha, D-Pa. In 2008, Murtha earmarked $192 million for his district. Thus far
this year, he's only managed to earmark $134 million. But give him time. The jewel in Murtha's
pork crown is the airport in Johnstown, Pa. That would be the John Murtha Johnstown-Cambria County Airport.
and Congressional Corruption: Roll Call, a Capitol Hill newspaper, recently reported that every
private entity [Representative John] Murtha (D-PA) favored with an earmark in this year's defense bill has
given money to his campaign in the last two years. Political Action Committees (PACs) and employees of
the 26 groups in Murtha's district that received Federal monies have contributed $413,250 to him, $100,750 of
which was donated in the two weeks leading up to March 16, the original deadline for lawmakers to file
their earmark requests. Murtha rewarded these groups for their political contributions by allocating
$114.5 million to them.
The Pork King Keeps His
Crown. The new earmark disclosure rules put into effect by Congress confirm the pre-eminence of
Representative John Murtha at procuring eye-popping chunks of pork for contractors he helped put in business
in Johnstown, Pa. The Pennsylvania Democrat, a power player on defense appropriations, exudes pride, not
embarrassment, for delivering hundreds of millions of dollars in largesse to district beneficiaries. They,
in turn, requite with hundreds of thousands of dollars in campaign donations. Mr. Murtha led all
House members this year, securing $162 million in district favors, according to the watchdog group
Taxpayers for Common Sense.
"King Of Pork". His most notorious project is the government agency that the government doesn't
want: The National Drug Intelligence Center, also in Murtha's hometown. Every year the White House
tries to close it because they already have a Drug Intelligence Center. But Murtha keeps the duplicate
open using half-a-billion dollars in earmarks. "You want to drive a stake through its heart but you
can't," says Leslie Paige for Citizens Against Government Waste. "Because Congressman Murtha continues
to put this in." Murtha's power plays are no surprise to those who've followed him since the 1980s
bribery scandal known as ABSCAM.
How Lawmaker Rebuilt Hometown on
Earmarks. If John Murtha were a businessman, he'd be the biggest employer in this town. The
powerful U.S. congressman has used his clout on Capitol Hill to create thousands of jobs and steer billions of
dollars in federal spending to help his hometown in western Pennsylvania recover from devastating floods and
the flight of its steelmakers. More is on the way. In the massive 2008 military-spending bill now
before Congress — which could go to a House-Senate conference as soon as Thursday — Mr.
Murtha has steered more taxpayer funds to his congressional district than any other member.
The Murtha Rules: A simple system to win
federal money. Congressman John Murtha of Pennsylvania has long been one of the biggest
porkbarrelers in Congress, and as the chairman of the House Appropriations Defense Subcommittee he is also one
of the biggest recipients of lobbyists' campaign donations. Which is no coincidence. When the
Democrats took control of Congress in 2006, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi pledged that porkbarreling would be
severely curtailed. But that hasn't come to pass?no surprise given that old-time hacks like Murtha
hold such powerful positions on the Appropriations committees.
Dogged By Questions About Earmark Use. [Murtha, Visclosky and Moran] received huge amounts of
political donations from PMA lobbyists and their clients. Murtha has collected $2.37 million in
campaign contributions from PMA's lobbyists and the companies it has represented since 1989, according to the
Center for Responsive Politics, which tracks political money. Visclosky has collected $1.36 million;
Moran, $997,348. Those political donations have followed a distinct pattern: The giving is
especially heavy in March, which is prime time for submitting written earmark requests.
Nephew Got Millions in Gov't Contracts. A company owned by a nephew of Rep. John Murtha received
$4 million from the Defense Department last year for engineering and warehouse services, The Washington
Post reported Tuesday. Murtha, D-Pa., is chairman of the House Appropriations defense subcommittee.
All in the
family. Powerful Democratic Rep. John P. Murtha of Pennsylvania has long treated defense
contractors as if they are a part of a large dysfunctional family he controls. We are less than
surprised he is patriarch of a clan that appears to survive by feeding on the government teat. The
Washington Post reported Tuesday that in 2008, nearly $4 million in no-bid Pentagon logistics contracts
went to a Glen Burnie, Md., business owned by Robert C. Murtha Jr., nephew of the House Defense
Appropriations Subcommittee chairman.
Of shoddy combat
helmets and Democratic corruption. This story may or may not become big news. But it
certainly says a lot about the earmark culture on Capitol Hill. A contractor, beneficiary of an
earmark that the lobbyist group with close ties to John Murtha got for them, produced combat helmets so
shoddy that the military has recalled 34,000 of them.
Pelosi's Pork Problem. Picture a freight
train roaring down the tracks. Picture House Speaker Nancy Pelosi positioning her party on the rails. Picture a
growing stream of nervous souls diving for the weeds. Picture all this, and you've got a sense of the Democrats'
earmark-corruption problem. This particular choo-choo has the name John Murtha emblazoned on the side, and with
each chug is proving that those who ignore history are doomed to repeat it.
Keep Airport Aloft. The John Murtha airport sits on a windy mountain two hours east of Pittsburgh,
a 650-acre expanse of smooth tarmac, spacious buildings, a helicopter hangar and a National Guard training center.
Inside the terminal on a recent weekday, four passengers lined up to board a flight, outnumbered by seven security
staff members and supervisors, all suited up in gloves and uniforms to screen six pieces of luggage.
Airport Got Military Upgrades. At the behest of Rep. John P. Murtha (D), chairman of the
House defense appropriations subcommittee, the Pentagon has spent about $30 million equipping the
little-used airport named for him so it can handle behemoth military aircraft and store combat equipment
for rapid deployment to foreign battlefields. Most of the improvements, funded through appropriations
approved by Murtha's panel, have not been used for their intended purpose. The projects delighted
National Guard and reserve units based in Murtha's Pennsylvania district that have seen budget cuts, but
critics charge that the expenditures have been a waste of taxpayer dollars.
Airport for No One. You might wonder how the region ever had the air traffic demand to justify
such a facility. It didn't. But it is located in the district of one of Congress's most
unapologetic earmarkers: Democrat John Murtha. In 20 years, Mr. Murtha has successfully
doled out more than $150 million of federal payments to what is now being called the airport for
Dems retain funding for Murtha airport.
The Senate has rejected an amendment that would have killed funding for the John Murtha Airport in Johnstown,
Pa., turning back an effort by fiscal conservatives to yank earmarks from a largely deserted airport named
after a controversial lawmaker.
earmarks lead to fewer jobs than promised. In 2005, Rep. John P. Murtha announced here that
a technology firm was moving into an abandoned plate glass factory. Best of all, he promised, the new firm
would generate 140 jobs. ... The firm peaked at 10 employees and then folded in early 2008. Once
its Murtha-engineered Navy contracts ended, the company could not survive.
Judicial Watch Announces List of Washington's "Ten Most Wanted
Corrupt Politicians" for 2009. [Including] Rep. John Murtha (D-PA) and the rest of the PMA
Seven: Rep. John Murtha made headlines in 2009 for all the wrong reasons. The Pennsylvania
congressman is under federal investigation for his corrupt relationship with the now-defunct defense lobbyist
PMA Group. PMA, founded by a former Murtha associate, has been the congressman's largest campaign
contributor. Since 2002, Murtha has raised $1.7 million from PMA and its clients. And what
did PMA and its clients receive from Murtha in return for their generosity? Earmarks — tens
of millions of dollars in earmarks.
[Scroll down] Another company to receive Murtha earmark help was Caracal, Inc. To great hoopla, Murtha
delivered the ton of tax dollars to Caracal, claiming, "Today's ribbon-cutting ceremony is yet another
indication that our investment in this region's economic revitalization is paying off." After receiving
more than $150 million in taxpayer help, the company went under. That's zero sustainable jobs.
With Caracal out of business, the operative question might be, "'Paying off' for whom?"
Company Wins Sole-Source Vaccine Contract. Several months ago we warned that Tara O'Toole who
recently became Under Secretary for the Science and Technology Directorate at the Department of Homeland
Security would reward her friends resulting in millions of dollars in gifts to John Murtha cronies who supported
her nomination. And it now appears the Murtha/O'Toole favor factory has begun production.
Governor Paterson gets rug pulled out from under him. Gov. Paterson has asked for $2 billion
in budget cuts, but he's not cutting the rugs. The Paterson administration has plunked down $37,741 for
rugs at the governor's mansion in Albany, including $21,000 spent on a pair of "Turkish patchwork" rugs at a
Manhattan carpet dealer. ... The administration bought the Turkish rugs — a 10-by-15-foot rug and
a 10-foot round rug — in July from Stark Carpet on Third Ave. State records show Stark Carpet
has donated $8,000 to former Gov. Eliot Spitzer's campaign organization since 2003. The organization
became known as Spitzer-Paterson 2006 after Paterson became Spitzer's running mate.
Pork becomes 'earmarks' — 11,000 of them. [Scroll down]
The law forbids using federal grants to lobby, but lobbyists do charge clients fees that often equal 10 percent of the
largesse. Earmark winners and their lobbyists often reward their benefactors with campaign contributions. For many
members of Congress, especially those on the Appropriations committees, such as Rep. John Murtha, D-Pa., campaign donations
from earmark-seeking lobbyists and corporate executives are the core of their fundraising.
Defense Earmarks Draw Questions. Spring in Washington is "earmark season" — a busy time for Congressman
John Murtha. "That's my business," Murtha said. "I've been in it for 35 years." As head of a
powerful Defense committee, Murtha controls hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars ...and he's not shy about
directing money to those who give generously to his election campaigns.