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  • The Cost of Rejecting an Earmark Ban

    Republican Sens. Bob Bennett (UT), Thad Cochran (MS), Susan Collins (ME), Jim Inhofe (OK), Dick Lugar (IN), Lisa Murkowski (AK), Richard Shelby (AL), and George Voinovich (OH) all just voted against an amendment in the Senate that would have banned Congressional earmarks. This is terrible public policy for their states, for their constituents, and for our country.

    Harvard research shows that states that experience an increase in earmark spending suffer from decreases in corporate capital expenditures and employment. Earmarking also robs money from local government transportation priorities to pay for Senator’s vanity projects. And there is a strong correlation between high numbers of earmarks high total spending by Congress. As George Mason University Law School professor David Bernstein explains, earmarks are a key part of a broader system of corruption in Washington:

    Let’s say Congressman X is an idealistic young Congressman. Some constituents in his rural district ask him to get federal funding for a new emergency room in a local hospital, because the nearest emergency room is 100 miles away. Congressman X is skeptical of earmarks, but this particular one both seems like a good idea and a way to help ensure his reelection–he won his first term with only 52% of the vote. He manages to slip the hospital funding into an appropriations bill.

    Soon thereafter, Congressman X becomes aware of a new $5 billion initiative that is a complete and utter boondoggle, but will benefit the districts of several influential congressmen. He starts sending out press releases opposing the initiative, and threatens to a force a vote on an amendment removing the initiative from the bill to which it is attached.

    The senior Congressmen who support the initiative schedule a meeting with Congressman X. Like mafia thugs, they tell the Congressman, “It would be a real shame if anything was to happen to your hospital funding–and any future funding for your district, for that matter.” The message is clear; if Congressman X wants any hope of bringing federal money into his district, he had better stop opposing wasteful spending supported by his colleagues. He drops his opposition to the $5 billion project, gets the hospital funding, is reelected easily, and never again shows any “spending hawk” tendencies. Soon, in fact, he is rather senior himself, and finds himself meeting with a junior Congressman, telling him “It would be a real shame if anything was to happen to your hospital funding–and any future funding for your district, for that matter.”

    So, even though earmarks are a small percentage of the federal budget, they are a very important part of a broader system of corruption that leads to out-of-control federal spending.

    UPDATE: An earlier version of this post did not identify Sen. Lugar as a supporter of earmarks. All Republicans who voted to protect earmark corruption are now listed properly.

    Posted in Ongoing Priorities [slideshow_deploy]

    37 Responses to The Cost of Rejecting an Earmark Ban

    1. Brad, Chicago says:

      Is anyone at all surprised to see Lisa Murkowski in the list of opposed votes?

    2. Jim Las Vegas says:

      This is too complicated for the average electorate, similar to the hopey changey electorate we saw exposed in 2008.

    3. Rachael says:

      Those who are committed to no earmarks are under no obligation to take them. Our new speaker has never taken an earmark and can lead by example.

    4. Paul Rinderle says:

      I suspect you were being kind in your example as far worse exist I'm sure.






    6. jr, dallas says:

      Why does this not mention the connection between earmarks and campaign contributions from the earmark beneficiaries? Isn't this "pay for play" and obvious corruption?

    7. richard40 says:

      One of the senators on your list, Inhofe, is from my state. I normally voted for him because he voted the way I like on most issues. But if he draws an opponent that promisses to oppose earmarks, I will vote against him.

    8. Tom Burhoe, Irving, TX says:

      Can you vote for the amendment and against the bill?
      The bill seems to give the federal government (FDA) more control of our food,

    9. Frank Warner says:

      Please tell us more about how each Congress member's earmarks are kept secret from all other members of Congress. It's almost as if this money is theirs to do with as they wish. If the full Congress knew about all the earmarks before they voted, it would be a different story.

      I don't see it as a central spending problem because it's usually "only" $30 million per Congress member. But it's corruption through and through, bribe bait that gives incumbents a wildly unfair advantage in fundraising. The secrecy makes the corruption possible.

    10. Claude Hopper, Bend OR says:

      Murkowski’s state annually gives each citizen a healthy payment out of the state’s oil revenue (around $1000). Why do they need the rest of us to send money there as well?

    11. Bob Beatty, Seymour, IN says:

      You forgot to include Senator Richard Lugar (RINO-IN) as one of those who voted against the ban.

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    13. Bill says:

      Well, we can see who lives up to this pledge and then find a replacement for those who dont. I'm glad RINO Voinovich is a lame duck.

    14. TBear, Pebble Beach, says:

      Administrative overhead in the federal government is about 75%. As a result, the real cost to taxpayers for a $5 million emergency room "earmark" is approximately $20 million. Muni bonds funded projects represent another method of "have it now and force posterity to pay for it" at added cost I might add. Just kicking the cost down the road. A pox on all politicians and the uninformed voting public.

    15. David Barrett, Kille says:

      What should we have expected from such a 'Lackluster" collection of such "Underwhelming" Politicians, The fact that we didn't dump some of them durin this last election will permit them to continue their insults to the american electorate

    16. Ace Sez says:

      Corruption in the Senate and House of Representatives cannot be oversome by continuously voting for Law School graduates as Senators and Congressmen–everyone knows about lawyers— and there you go!!

    17. JME, Indianapolis IN says:

      Time for Mr. Lugar to RETIRE!

    18. Bill, Charleston WV says:

      Another way to eliminate earmarks would be legislation that requires that all projects with federal funding that are to be named have names only of the deceased. In addition, all construction signs could not have the names of politicians. If politicians can't continuously remind constituents of their largess it will help to eliminate the reason for this pork. Of course there will always be pork to those who helped fund their campaigns but that is corruption.

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    20. Dick, California says:

      How else did Harry Reid become a millionaire on a senator's salary?

    21. CHUCK - WAUSAU says:

      I guess some did not get the message this last election. 2012 cdan't come soon enough! The Rulling Class will be replaced with the Country Class.

    22. Linda, Indiana says:

      Dick Lugar is apparently becoming a RINO. Many of us have contacted him and his office about the many ways he is ignoring conservative values. He must feel he is invincible. But nobody is!

    23. Barbara, Russell, Ka says:

      I have alerted everyone in my E-Mail address Book. Why do these good old boys always defend these Rino's?

    24. Edward A Sevenau says:

      All I can say is any Republican that ran his/her campaign on listening to the we the people part of this nation and won his/her election due to what they ran on better stick with what they promised! A new election is coming this 2012 and if they have not gotten the message by then than it is truly time to remove all of our Government officials and start with a clean slate. We the People have the power to remove the whole governmnent if we choose at anytime if they are caught undermining our Constitution and Bill of Rights like our president and his little Miss Hillary are doing in the UN, They are trying to lie a treaty through the UN that gives the UN power over our gun rights and remove our 2nd Amendment rights to keep and bear arms of any kind, This is treason in my eye or at least a leasser charge of perjury. Obama and his cronies are not upholding thier oaths of office to defend and uphold said Constiution and needs to be removed as soon as we can, before any horrible treaty is rammed down the free citizens throats one more time and this time it would leave everyone defenseless against criminals and our very government that would oppress us if we had do defense, I know it sounds unbeleivable but it is true, look at how Hitler did it and Stalin the first attack was citizens gun ownership, We the People must call our Senators everyday and demand they not ratify any treaty that gives the UN any power over our national Sovereignty or our gun rights, America is the last free nation after us there is no other place to go, look at our so called freinds China and Russia now made a deal to stop using our American dollar, that is a plan by our enemies to destroy our economy and take us over without a shot fired, we must demand our rights left alone and make it very forceful in nature but respectful. I pray that Obama and Hillart don't start another civil war, even with his illegal 80,000 troops in training on our soil to fight us the citizens, that is against our Conatitution about there shall be no standing armies on this soil for any purpose except the protection and deployment of the people. Call your Senators no matter if they are opposed to the treaty or not make sure their minds never change and warn them not to allow Obama to trick this treaty through by cheating political motions. Stop Obama from selling We the People out to foreign nations for personal gain. He lied to us all, his hope and change is his dream of socializing America and killing our Liberty, must never happen and no treaty even that start treaty with Ruassia who fueled the nuclear reactors in Iran after we told them please don't and Obama wants to weaken our protections, Hell NO. fight back people elect people that will vote for freedom and our Constitution not liars like our liar and chief. God save America, pray everyday that this government can't destroy 230 years of freedom in one pen stoke, and Obama wants that totally, no gun rights whatsoever for we the subjects not we the people in charge, our gun rights allows us to keep our government in check and Obama and the UN know that. stop our Liberty from being sold out. now.

    25. AWM -NW Indiana says:

      Sir Richard Lugar has abandoned principle, and is focused only upon building his legacy…..no big surprise here…how else could he fund the "Dick Lugar Fieldhouse"…..or library…or medical center…or ?????

    26. Edward Chandler Cald says:

      I am notmsurprised at my RINO Senator voting against the ban on earmarks. Heis a disgrace to all Ohio and I hope when his term is up he doesn't even come back to Ohio to live.When he was Governor of Ohio he was at a German Cemetery apoligizing to the germans for the Americans fighting them. Does that tell you what he is?

    27. Barbara Berry Michig says:

      Why don't you check out the reasons behind the fact that earmarks are needed.. Without them, the executive branch, Obama, will have full power to use all monies.

      The way earmarks are done only needs to be changed. Why don't you check out what Senator Inhofe said on this subject for starters.

    28. Pingback: Republican Earmarkers Already Enabling Higher Government Spending | The Foundry: Conservative Policy News.

    29. Ron says:

      We get what we vote for. If the electorate can somehow see the error of their ways, it is time for recall.

    30. PatriotGames says:

      Reps and Dems have led this country to the same place in different ways and rates of speed for the past 70 years… bankruptcy. Special interest pork programs are as old as both parties that make of the elitist ruling class… and as long as the elitist ruling class is allowed to operate with impunity, things will never change. As long as Americans allow themselves to be led around by their nose rings, they deserve the government they get.

    31. Spiritof76, NH says:

      The ruling class in this country is marching us to the inevitability of a modern French Revolution ending in a bad way. Americans don't deserve it. But, they have not shut down Washington and run off the ruling class, either. The recent lukewarm election results only confirm to the ruling class that they can weather the storm easily by throwing a few bones. We must cut the federal budget and the size by 50% if we are to survive as a free nation. We must defund Washington DC.

    32. rhurt, California says:

      I just like to say to Alaska-thank you-that mailed in your votes for Murkowski. We will now see her as a Democratic vote on just about anything against the majority of Conservative and or Republican people.

      All of you people can be proud of your stupidity for voting in these Republican/Moderate-Independent/Rinos. It is evident that all of those that wasted their votes were either greedy, or down right anti-American and stand for all of Obama's destructive attempts to destroy the USA. Yes all of you can feel proud that you sent the USA down the river and may help to destroy this great country. Hopefully, now the people will see how misplaced their vote is on a Moderate or Independent; like Murkowski!

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    37. Regina, Louisiana says:

      And the DC mafia goes on stealing my hard-earned tax money as if the money were theirs to spend on any project, worthwhile or otherwise. I will remember these earmark republicans.

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