December 18, 2010

The Corrosive Culture of Earmark/Pork Spending


The pre-Christmas controversy over earmarks or pork (depending on your ideology) is a valuable discussion. While Vermont’s targeted earmark/pork recipients whine about the loss of funding for their pet projects, the larger question deserves more attention. The culture of local slurping at the Federal trough that has fostered this entitlement mentality is corrosive to Americans’ trust in Congress and the federal government.

The massive spending bill that Majority Leader Harry Reid reluctantly pulled from consideration because he did not have the votes to assure passage in the lame duck Senate was laden with earmarks/pork.

According to the Heritage Foundation: “Gallup released a poll this morning (December 15, 2010) showing that the American people dislike this 111th Congress more than any other Congress. Specifically, a full 83% of Americans disapprove of the way Congress is handling its job while only 13% approve. That is the worst approval rating in more than 30 years of tracking congressional job performance.
Why do Americans so despise this Congress? The reckless way it spends other people’s money, for starters. One would have thought that after getting “shellacked” at the polls this November, Congress would have gotten the message. No luck. Majority Leader Harry Reid introduced a $1.27 trillion 1,924 page omnibus spending bill last night that contains 6,000 earmarks worth $8 billion. Oh, and all this has to be approved by midnight Saturday or the government shuts down.”

Many argue that earmarks represent minuscule spending in the big picture and promote valuable local benefits. However, the more important factor for the taxpayers is that earmarks/pork is part of a political spoils game played by both parties using taxpayer and borrowed money. At a time of economic pain and imperceptible growth, this culture erodes public confidence in a government that refuses to reign in spending. Congress, the body with the Constitutional authority for budgets and raising revenue, is seen as frivolous spendthrifts who abuse the system for their selfish political benefit.

Now that the massive spending bill has been derailed by the Senate, the new Congress, particularly in the Republican dominated House where spending bills originate, must soon decide what to cut in order to fulfill the November 2 voters mandate to control spending.
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