Monday, March 19, 2007

Robert Novak: Earmark Subterfuge

WASHINGTON -- As part of "Sunshine Week" to promote transparent government, the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) last Monday was supposed to release a comprehensive database revealing the number and cost of earmarks since 2005. It did not. The word on Capitol Hill was that the OMB was muzzled by the White House for fear of offending powerful congressional appropriators.

Meanwhile, the new majority staffs of Senate appropriations subcommittees under Democratic control are privately soliciting individual senators for their requested earmarks, without much transparency. That would seem to make a sham of the pledge by Appropriations Chairman Robert C. Byrd to "place a moratorium on all earmarks until a reformed process is put in place."

Thanks partly to the outcome of the 2006 elections, members of Congress can no longer blithely earmark funds for unauthorized pet projects as they have done with increasing frequency. But in the dark recesses of Capitol Hill, lawmakers from both parties are continuing the pernicious practice as best they can. The question is whether they will be curbed by the Republican administration, the Democratic Congress, or both...


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