Saturday, February 23, 2008

Don’t tell Ron Carey, but Norm Coleman leads Earmarks race

The Taxpayers for Common Sense (TCS) has evaluated the FY2008 appropriations bills and determined that Congress inserted 12,881 earmarks worth $18.3 billion into FY2008 spending bills. Congress also documented more than $20 billion in presidential earmarks.

Evaluating the Minnesota Congressional Delegation, Norm Coleman leads the list with $10,780,000 solo earmarks while Keith Ellison and John Kline have requested zero earmarks.

Solo earmarks may not tell the total story, since funding can also cross-district needs. Kline for example did not assign his name to any project while all of Ellison earmarks were ones that the President wanted. Looking at the delegation in this manner, Kline would be first followed by Bachmann at $3,787,600; Walz in third at $9,562,500, then Ramstad at $12,472,300, and on.

Not all earmarks are pork-barrel spending.
They can be good projects that “promote the general Welfare” for the citizens. Article I Section 9 of the U.S. Constitution is clear … Congress controls the purse .. (No Money shall be drawn from the Treasury, but in Consequence of Appropriations made by Law).

Bush’s FY2009 budget is a sham.
Yet as TCS documents above, presidential earmarks outnumber Congressional earmarks.
For example, Bush knows that the continuation of the Lewis & Clark Regional Water System (and other similar projects) will be funded by Congress. By not including these dollars in his request, he understates what funding is required to make the fiscal imbalance not as large as it is. Water and other related projects requests totaling about $1.8 billion -- some date back to 2000 (or essentially throughout Mr. Bush's presidency) -- are awaiting funds.

South Dakota Congresswoman Stephanie Herseth Sandlin [D], Iowa Congressman Steve King [R] and Minnesota Congressman Tim Walz [D] have issued a joint statement of support for the Lewis & Clark Regional Water System project that would serve the three states.

The Lewis & Clark Regional Water System will deliver safe drinking water from aquifers near Vermillion, S.D., to roughly 300,000 people in a 5,000 square mile area.
Lewis & Clark will be funded … and it will be an earmark in the budget … and there is absolutely nothing wrong with that. This is not “pork-barrel” wasteful project.

It’s a game. And part of the game may be who will sign their name to the earmark ?

I question how John Kline can say that he serves the people when he does not support any earmarks. I am proud that Tim Walz is fighting for our well being.

Why do I mention Ron Carey ? When The Club For Growth issued their RePork Card on House of Representatives votes on earmarks, Carey was quick to issue a press release condemning Walz. Will he be so quick now to acknowledge Coleman’s use of earmarks ? (More on the RePork Card in a future commentary.)

We can debate about what is wasteful spending … I question $97,000 to continue the "Lighten Up, Iowa" anti-obesity initiative, but believe that is in the country’s best interest to have a clean water supply. It will be easy for people to denounce earmarks, but we need a serious discussion about what the projects are.

No comments: