Earmarks, Pork-barrel Spending

March 8, 2009

By Padmini Arhant

The budget vote delayed due to enormous ‘pork’ in the $410 billion spending bill. The defenders of various pork projects may have their own justification.

Nevertheless, Washington must relinquish wasteful spending through several pet projects carried out on behalf of lobbyists by lawmakers concerned about their own job security in the future elections.

As stated earlier in the article “Omnibus Spending” on the website www.padminiarhant.com , the nation is grappling with dire economic situation due to significant job losses and housing crisis at this time and families are desperately seeking relief from both free market system and the government.

Unfortunately, the free market system dependent on taxpayers’ bailout is barely capable of remaining solvent despite unprecedented capital infusion in modern financial history. The root cause of all these problems attributed to lack of ethics, accountability, transparency and importantly executive management failure.

The critics of taxpayers’ bailout argue in favor of non-interference in the market economy on the assumption the system would correct itself in due course. They fail to recognize the fact that the economic meltdown commenced in the early 2000, though the impact was not acknowledged up until late 2007.

During that limited or non-regulatory period, the capitalist system had ample opportunities to review and reassess their performance and prepare them for the worst scenario.

However, it did not happen, even though Wall Street witnessed and experienced the collapse of Enron, WorldCom, Tyco, Global Crossing all in the year 2002 resulting from failed Corporate management, unethical accounting practices and blatant greed.

Somehow, the free market advocates seem to have forgotten these events because of their inability then to envision the domino effect on the entire economy in the immediate future. Another reason for the denial of economic crisis previously was the skyrocketing of the technology stocks combined with oil and defense stocks at the phenomenal cost of American taxpayers’ dollars and human lives in Iraq war.

The financial sector created its own superficial boom during that time with the concoction of subprime mortgages and diverse toxic assets bundled together and sold by the hedge fund managers in the overseas markets. This entire taking place while the past administration was preoccupied in the implementation of unjust Iraq war.

It is unequivocally a miserable failure on the part of the predecessors in Federal Reserve, Treasury department as well as the Securities Commission primarily responsible for monitoring and evaluating the daily market events and executing necessary precautionary measures to prevent the economy from overheating.

Surprisingly, with the history of ‘Great Depression’, Oil crisis, economic recessions, one would assume that the authorities would remain alert and watch over the economy with prudent advice against extravagant spending in unnecessary wars or at least demanded the administration engaging in wasteful spending provide legitimate cost and benefit investment analysis.

The gridlock in Washington or State legislature is contributed by political ideologies resisting flexibility to resolve any crisis. The fiscal conservatives steadfast against tax increases, the predominant revenue source for any government, consistently target essential programs designed to promote consumer spending vital for economic recovery.

Similarly, the spendthrift legislators on both aisles with a penchant for pet projects or pork spending refuse to yield to frugality and prioritize their commitments to lobbyists and local governments assuring their re-election over national interest.

The electorate voted for Change in 2008 and change has hope only with representatives in Congress and Senate quitting habits that create rather than solving crisis.

It is evident that the $410 billion spending bill is injected with significant pork projects and it would be appropriate for the sponsors to present cost / benefit ratio in monetary terms to justify inclusion in the bill.

Again, these projects must be evaluated to benefit the taxpayers and the nation as a whole rather than the individuals regardless of them being legislators or the lobbyists.

The lawmakers have lately advised ordinary citizens to downsize their lifestyle according to their means, the same should apply to them as any sermons, preaching, and advice is meaningful when individuals demonstrate through action.

After all, shouldn’t one practice what they preach others?

No matter how one circumvents the legitimacy of earmarks particularly at these tough economic times, it is inappropriate now and in the future to squander taxpayers’ dollars for far-fetched projects with beneficiaries being the authorizing entity and/or special interests rather than the entire nation.

Please refer to the following articles from other sources for data confirmation on earmarks / pork barrel spending.

Thank you.

Padmini Arhant

Senate Republicans force delay on budget vote:

GOP Members want to offer Amendments on $410 billion plan criticized for Pork – By Andrew Taylor,

Associated Press – Thank you.

Washington – Senate Republicans, demanding the right to try to change a huge spending bill, forced Democrats on Thursday night to put off a final vote on the measure until next week.

The surprise development will force Congress to pass a stopgap-funding bill to avoid a partial shutdown of the government.

Republicans have blasted the $410 billion measure as too costly. But the reason for GOP unity in advance of a key procedural vote was that Democrats had not allowed them enough opportunities to offer amendments.

Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., canceled the vote, saying he was one vote short of the 60 needed to close debate and free the bill for President Barack Obama’s signature.

The 1,132-page spending bill is stuffed with pet projects sought by lawmakers in both parties.

Democrats and their allies control 58 seats, though at least a handful of Democrats oppose the measure over its cost or changes in U.S. policy toward Cuba. That meant Democrats needed five or six Republican votes to advance the bill.

None of the GOP’s amendments is expected to pass, but votes on perhaps a dozen are now slated for Monday night, Reid said.

The huge, 1-132-page spending bill awards big increases to domestic programs and is stuffed with pet projects sought by lawmakers in both parties. The measure has an extraordinary reach, wrapping together nine spending bills to fund the annual operating budgets of every Cabinet department except for Defense, Homeland Security and Veterans Affairs.

Once considered a relatively bipartisan measure, the measure has come under attack from Republicans – and a handful of Democrats – who say it is bloated and filled with wasteful, pork-barrel projects.

The measure was written mostly over the course of last year, before projected deficits quadrupled and Obama’s economic recovery bill left many of the same spending accounts swimming in cash.

To the embarrassment of Obama – who promised during last year’s campaign to force Congress to curb its pork-barrel ways – the bill contains 7,991 pet projects totaling $5.5 billion, according to calculations by the GOP staff of the House Appropriations Committee.

Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., Obama’s opponent in last fall’s presidential campaign, called the measure “a swollen, wasteful, egregious example of out-of-control spending.”

The earmarks run the gamut. There’s $190,000 for the Buffalo Bill Historical Center in Cody, Wyo., $238,000 to fund a deep-sea voyaging program for native Hawaiian youth, agricultural research projects, and grants to local police departments, among many others.”


Further Excerpt of the article –

Sen. John McCain blasts $237,500 for Japantown museum – By Frank Davies, Mercury News Washington Bureau – Thank you.

Reps, Zoe Lofgren, D-San Jose, and Mike Honda, D-Campbell, secured that money to help the museum.
Honda, who is Japanese American, – “Jap. Museum boost tourism (thus jobs) in SJ Japantown, last of 3 authentic US Japantowns, Zoe & I proudly supported its funding.”