January 29, 2007

EVERYTHING WILL BE DIFFERENT....:

As Spending Deadline Looms, Congress Debates Earmarks: Lawmakers Can't Agree on What Outlays Are Wasteful (Lyndsey Layton, 1/29/07, Washington Post)

[W]hat precisely is an earmark?

That question has been at the heart of passionate negotiations across the capital as lawmakers, federal agencies and lobbyists argue over what constitutes waste and what is legitimate spending.

"I heard an appropriator say this week that it was like Justice [Potter] Stewart's definition of pornography -- it's hard to define an earmark, but he knew it when he saw it," one Democratic staffer said.

The debate goes beyond semantics. The stakes are huge -- deciding how to spend $463 billion between now and Sept. 30 on thousands of programs run by local communities, states and federal agencies. While public debate on Capitol Hill has been dominated by the war in Iraq, closed-door arguments about what the federal government will fund this year have been nearly as intense.

The Congressional Research Service says there is no widely accepted definition of "earmark." The White House won't take a stab at it either, saying through a spokesman that it will be addressed when the president presents his fiscal 2008 budget next month.

"Defining earmarks is a little like defining a terrorist," said Ellen Miller of the Sunlight Foundation, a nonpartisan group aimed at making government more transparent. "One man's terrorist is another man's freedom fighter. Part of the problem is there is no standard. Some of the earmarks are good stuff that government ought to be doing. This has the potential of throwing the baby out with the bath water."


As with terrorists, most folk would be comfortable with following Abbott Amaury's advice.

Posted by Orrin Judd at January 29, 2007 8:14 AM
Comments

For starters, no statues.

Any funding to any university w/$1 billion or more in endowments - zip.

No dog parks

And how about changing the law so clubs like The Sierra Club don't get Uncle Sam's deep pockets for lawsuits????

Posted by: Sandy P at January 29, 2007 10:04 AM

For starters, no statues.

Any funding to any university w/$1 billion or more in endowments - zip.

No dog parks

And how about changing the law so clubs like The Sierra Club don't get Uncle Sam's deep pockets for lawsuits????

Posted by: Sandy P at January 29, 2007 10:10 AM

Sandy P...
I'll agree to all but the dog parks.

Posted by: Dave W at January 29, 2007 11:07 AM

Ah, but most people aren't being logical on this subject. I doubt that earmarks increase total spending by much; they just allow reps and senators to direct it to specific projects. And if the members of our elected government closest to each locality can't be trusted to provide input via earmarks, who will re-direct the money once you take the abbott's advice and "kill them all" (the earmarks, I hasten to note, not the elected representatives). If G-d really wanted to get involved in this, he'd have already given the President a line-item veto, or at least rescission authority.

Posted by: HT at January 29, 2007 11:47 AM

Why have ear-marks come into such bad repute lately? It's nothing new, we've been doing business this way for a long time. Sure now and again a congress-critter gets too greedy, but on the whole it works well. If it ain't broke ...

Posted by: erp at January 29, 2007 4:03 PM

erp:

It's probably not the earmarks themselves, but the attitudes of guys like Don Young (Mr. Bridge to Nowhere), Ted Stevens, Robert Byrd, and Trent Lott. Once they start getting quoted as complaining about bloggers and pork-busting, they just expose their royal arses to lots of arrows.

The real pork is ground by the likes of Dianne Feinstein, who serves on a committee that lets contracts for Iraq - and gives hundreds of millions a year to a company run by her husband.

$90,000 is chicken **** compared to that.

Posted by: jim hamlen at January 29, 2007 5:38 PM

As usual, bro jim nails it. Some of the most widely read right-of-center bloggers were suckered into the fray and weak minded readers jumped on it as an issue they could easily understood.

The three rich witches from California are among the wealthiest in congress or even the nation yet there's a dearth of information on their husbands and family connections. Rush should write another book going through all the Democrats past, present and future and expose their finances and that of their families. It would make fascinating reading.

Posted by: erp at January 30, 2007 12:02 PM
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