Thursday, March 12, 2009

Mark My Ear

I get confused about earmarks. Sometimes I think maybe they’re some kind of tattoo. Then I get mixed up, wondering if it's the same thing as pork, and if somebody is trying to make a silk purse from a sow’s earmark. Thankfully, Congress knows the difference and can pass legislation like the current fiscal year budget, a physical year late, of $410 billion, which includes, according to Taxpayers for Common Sense, 8,570 “disclosed” earmarks totaling $7.7 billion. President Obama signed the bill, calling it “imperfect.”

Three Republicans joined the Democrats in passing the bill in the U.S. Senate, Richard Shelby of Alabama, Thad Cochran of Mississippi, and Olympia Snowe of Maine. Taxpayers for Common Sense reports Sen. Shelby added 64 earmarks accounting for $114 million in the budget, and Sen. Cochran 65 earmarks for $76 million. Sen. Snowe was not associated with any earmarks .

Don’t be misled into thinking voting for the bill was the price paid for bringing home the bacon for the folks that elected you. Senate Minority leader Mitch McConnel held his Republican Caucus close against passage of the bill, though he added 36 earmarks of his own worth $51 million to his fellow citizens of Kentucky.

Rounding out the top five total ear markers who voted against the budget bill were Kay Bailey Hutchinson of Texas, Jim Inhofe of Oklahoma, Bob Bennett of Utah, and Sam Brownback of Kansas, who contributed 35, 34, 23, and 21 earmarks respectively. For total price-tag of earmarks among opponents, Inhofe led the list with $53 million, followed by Minority Leader McConnell, again, ($51 million), Mel Martinez of Florida ($18.8 million), Bennett ($18 million), and George Voinovich of Ohio ($13.5 million).

Other Republicans voting against the bill but not before remembering to front-load a little something for the pork lovers back home were both Georgia Senators Saxby Chambliss and Johnny Isakson. Here‘s the rest of the list of ear markers who voted nay:

Lindsey Graham (South Carolina), Jon Kyl (Arizona) Jeff Sessions (Alabama), John Thune (South Dakota), David Vitter (Louisiana), Richard Lugar (Indiana), John Barrasso (Wyoming), John Cornyn (Texas), Pat Roberts (Kansas), Judd Gregg (New Hampshire), Mike Enzi (Wyoming), Richard Burr (North Carolina), Bob Corker (Tennessee), Jim Bunning (Kentucky), Orrin Hatch (Utah), Susan Collins (Maine), Chuck Grassley (Iowa), and Mike Crapo (Idaho). Democrat Evan Bayh (Indiana) also voted against the bill that contained his own earmarks.

What is this? A cable-tv episode of The Last Comic Standing? The things elected officials say for the news media. They are joking, right? They just make me fall down laughing. Hall of Fame humorist Will Rogers said he did not like to compete with dedicated professionals like Congress. Or maybe it’s what Tennessee Williams, not a Congressman, called “the smell of mendacity.”

Copyright 2009 by William C. Cotter


Tina said...

"Earmarks" may include projects that are much needed in certain communities. Our congressman, Jim Marshall, has done a lot for rural hospitals, for example.

Paw Paw Bill said...

I have nothing against "earmarks" myself. I just wish Republicans would not lie about them.

annette cotter said...

I'm not sure most of the flap about "pork" and "earmarks" is not an election tactic of John McCain, which is "invent an enemy, insist that it is the cause of all our troubles, and be rabidly against it". It is, of course, a simplistic analysis, but one easily bought by people who believe the problems in their lives are caused by the gov'mint. I wonder this: Does Shelby believe his constituency cannot connect the dots between railing against "earmarks" AND proposing many "earmarks" and bringing home to Alabama mucho bacon? Scarier than that, is Shelby right?


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