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Pork Barrel Spending Continues

April 6th, 2007

Although President George W. Bush called on Congress to reduce the size and number of pork barrel projects (known officially as “earmarks” in Congressional terminology) in his last State of the Union address, the actual costs to taxpayers of pork-related Congressional spending are not really being reduced.

Pork barrel projects are pieces of legislation that are inserted into larger bills and “earmark” federal dollars for various local projects and personal interests that are unrelated to the actual subject of the bill. Although much of the American public remains unaware, the true purpose of these earmarks is to allow politicians to “bring home the bacon” to their local Congressional districts in order to curry favor with voters and increase their chances of being re-elected.

In an apparent move to appease government watchdogs and other concerned members of the public, Congress has pretended to do something about the increasing costs of pork barrel spending by having the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) create a federal database of earmarks that is now being made available to the public. On the surface, this looks like a good thing for those of us who are concerned about the increasing costs of pork and its contribution to the national debt. But then we get to the last two sentences of their latest report:

However, the database is not designed, and cannot accurately be used, to identify the individual sponsors of congressional earmarks. Additionally, the recipient of an earmark identified in the database may not in all cases represent the ultimate beneficiary of the earmark.

In other words, even though Congress is now officially keeping track of earmarks, there is still no way for us to tell exactly who is creating this wasteful pork barrel spending or where the money is actually going unless we do our own independent investigating. But since most ordinary citizens who are not “political junkies” are not going to do this, these sneaky Congresscritters can continue to fool the “sheeple” and retain their status as career politicians.

Additionally, as this report from the Center for Defense Information points out, Congress can simply get around the earmark label altogether by placing items that would normally be categorized as earmarks into “emergency” appropriations bills and simply inserting a clause into the bill stating that the bill does not contain any earmarks. While most of us would probably see this kind of tactic as disingenuous or even use a less politically correct term such as “lying”, we must remember that we are dealing with politicians who have a penchant for blithely ignoring virtues such as fairness and honesty as long as people are foolish enough to continue re-electing them.

In order to truly bring excessive government spending under control, the best strategy is to replace incumbent politicians with Libertarians whenever we have the opportunity to do so. This will not only reduce pork barrel spending, but also have the beneficial side effects of increasing our personal freedom and allowing us to reclaim more of our rightfully earned money. Meanwhile, we can also support common sense proposals such as the Read the Bills Act, which would make it much more difficult for pork barrel projects to be enacted in the first place because they would actually need to be considered as stand-alone bills, read by all members of Congress, and made available for public perusal.


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