Friday, October 19, 2007

Heritage's Brian Riedl: Congress Loads Spending Bills with Pork and Earmarks

Congress Loads Spending Bills with Pork and Earmarks by Brian M. Riedl:
Click here for a list of FY 2008 pork projects

Despite pledges to rein in pork, the Democratic Congress has included a combined 11,351 pork projects in the House and Senate appropriations bills. If this legislation passes, thousands of government grants will be distributed based on politics, lobbying, and/or campaign donations, rather than on merit. Members of Congress should listen to the demands of frustrated voters and eliminate these projects...

...The Case Against Pork

Historically, Congress funded grant programs and then asked federal agencies, governors, and mayors to award the grants competitively to the most capable applicants. But over the past decade, Congress has increasingly bypassed such competition and selected (or "earmarked") grant recipients on its own, such as the Andre Agassi College Preparatory Academy and the Montana World Trade Center. Instead of submitting persuasive grant proposals to unbiased agencies, grant seekers today are often forced to play the Washington influence game and hire lobbyists to win federal funds.

Giving lawmakers their own pot of taxpayer dollars to distribute as they wish invites corruption. Not surprisingly, the media has been saturated with stories of lawmakers earmarking federal grants to projects directly benefiting campaign contributors, friends, relatives, and even themselves.

In addition to waste and corruption, lawmakers' obsession with pork raises a larger concern about the role of the federal government. Members of the U.S. Congress--a legislature that has historically debated national concerns such as war, Americans' rights, and broad economic policy--have become, in the words of Rep. Dan Lungren (R-California), "mere errand boys for local government and constituents."...


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