• The Heritage Network
    • Resize:
    • A
    • A
    • A
  • Donate
  • Combating Myths About Earmarks

    Earmarks Increase as Government Gets Bigger

    Appropriators and other opponents of a one-year earmark moratorium ratcheted up their defense of pork-barrel spending today, signaling that many in Congress were not ready to take a timeout from the corrupting practice of earmarking.

    With most of the attacks directed at Sen. Jim DeMint (R-S.C.), sponsor of the one-year freeze, earmark opponents began to push back against the myths spread by appropriators and their lobbyist friends. The attacks, in news articles and on a prominent conservative listserv, accuse DeMint of trying to hurt local communities, diminish Congress’ power and provide political cover or Clinton and Obama.

    Nothing could be further from the truth. As taxpayer watchdogs have noted for years, earmarks serve as the gateway drug to wasteful government spending, which the chart above illustrates. While not every single earmark fits into the same category as the Bridge to Nowhere or the Teapot Museum, there is no other way to reform the process of earmarking without taking a timeout.

    A congressional staffer responded to the attacks:

    If this moratorium provides ‘cover to free spending politicians’ why is it that the biggest pork barrel spenders in Congress right now are fighting tooth and nail to defeat this? … [E]armark addicts in the Senate are doing everything within their power to stop the moratorium. They know that if we stop earmarks for a whole year, and the sky does not fall, their argument will be diminished and more importantly, their power to secure their next election with your taxpayer dollars will be diminished.

    We are at a monumental moment right now in the Senate. For the first time ever, the political winds are at the backs of the reformers. The fact that Obama and Clinton have signed on to this is not an indication that they think they can spend more money. It is a sign that this issue has finally arrived and they cannot look the American people in the face and explain why they are in favor of a process that has produced so much corruption and waste.

    The vote on DeMint’s amendment is expected to take place tomorrow when Reid holds a so-called “vote-o-rama” on the Democrats’ budget. DeMint will likely need 60 votes to secure passage of the amendment.

    Leaders of both parties, Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) and Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ken.), are viewed as the biggest hurdles to DeMint’s amendment, which is cosponsored by 14 senators, including John McCain (R-Ariz.), the Republican nominee for president. Despite the backing of both Sens. Hillary Clinton (D-N.Y.) and Barack Obama (D-Ill.), many Democrats also appear unwilling to take even a one-year break from earmarks.

    UPDATE — 1:23 p.m.: Here’s video of DeMint on the Senate floor today talking about the moratorium.

    Posted in Ongoing Priorities, Scribe [slideshow_deploy]

    2 Responses to Combating Myths About Earmarks

    1. George Bugenske, Cha says:

      Senator DeMint, you are the MAN! You continue to be my favorite Senator, and I only wish other states would play the game as fairly as you continue to do. You have my support, and anything you can do to give me the ear of your fellow Senators and Representatives, I would be glad to share my opinions with them.


      George Bugenske

    2. Pingback: Morning Bell: Why Earmarks Matter | The Foundry: Conservative Policy News.

    Comments are subject to approval and moderation. We remind everyone that The Heritage Foundation promotes a civil society where ideas and debate flourish. Please be respectful of each other and the subjects of any criticism. While we may not always agree on policy, we should all agree that being appropriately informed is everyone's intention visiting this site. Profanity, lewdness, personal attacks, and other forms of incivility will not be tolerated. Please keep your thoughts brief and avoid ALL CAPS. While we respect your first amendment rights, we are obligated to our readers to maintain these standards. Thanks for joining the conversation.

    Big Government Is NOT the Answer

    Your tax dollars are being spent on programs that we really don't need.

    I Agree I Disagree ×

    Get Heritage In Your Inbox — FREE!

    Heritage Foundation e-mails keep you updated on the ongoing policy battles in Washington and around the country.