Monday, March 9, 2009

Only $7.7 Billion in Earmarks in the Omnibus Spending Bill

The Office of Management and Budget, which is part of the Executive Branch of our government, defines earmarks as "funds provided by the Congress for projects or programs where the congressional direction (in bill or report language) circumvents Executive Branch merit-based or competitive allocation processes, or specifies the location or recipient, or otherwise curtails the ability of the Executive Branch to manage critical aspects of the funds allocation process." Wikipedia says, "Pork-barrel projects, or earmarks, are added to the federal budget by members of the appropriation committees of United States Congress. This allows delivery of federal funds to the local district or state of the appropriation committee member, often accommodating major campaign contributors. To a certain extent, a member of Congress is judged by their ability to deliver funds to their constituents."

As I see it, the major problem with earmarks is that it sends federal funds to projects that many of us see as a state responsibility. For example, one of the earmarks in the Omnibus spending bill currently being discussed in D.C. is $238,000 for the Polynesian Voyaging Society in Honolulu, HI, for educational programs. This is sponsored by Sen. Daniel Inouye. I have nothing against the Polynesian Voyaging Society, but should it really be receiving federal funding (using my tax dollars)?

The organization named The Taxpayers For Common Sense has compiled a database of earmarks that should frighten all of us. Please take the time to review the database here.

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