Thursday, July 30, 2009

$6.9 Billion in Pork

That was basically the headline in this morning's Washington Post on line.  It has since been softened.  Now it reads "House Seems To Be Set on Pork-Padded Defense Bill."  This can't be ALL Representative Jack Murtha, Democratic House Member from Pennsylvania's 12th Congressional District, can it?  That number would work out to $15,862,068 per member.  That is almost $16 million in pork for each and every man and women in the US House of Representatives.
Roughly $2.75 billion of the extra funds -- all of which were unanimously approved in an 18-minute markup Monday by the House Appropriations Committee -- would finance "earmarks," or projects demanded by individual lawmakers that the Pentagon did not request.7nbsp; About half of that amount reflects spending requested by private firms, including 95 companies or related political action committees that donated a total of $789,190 in the past 2 1/2 years to members of the appropriations subcommittee on defense, according to an analysis by Taxpayers for Common Sense, a nonprofit watchdog group.
This is the United States.  Citizens are allowed to petition Congress.  It is in the First Amendment.  And, if Joe Dokes, down the street, can call up Reg Niki Tsongas and give her (or, more likely, her staff) a piece of his mind, then so can Raytheon Corporation.  And, sometimes those individual citizens band together.
He [Rep Jeff Flake, R-AZ] noted that at least 70 of the earmarks are for former clients of the PMA Group, a lobbying firm close to appropriations subcommittee head John P. Murtha (D-Pa.) that is now being probed by the Justice Department and the House ethics committee.
The real way to clean this up is to vote out some of those who are bringing home the beacon.  Does anyone see that happening?  In my humble opinion, only when those Reps become a total embarrassment.

Regards  —  Cliff

1 comment:

kad barma said...

One huge problem is that constituents personally benefit from pork-barrel politics, and so have a perverse incentive to sustain the incumbency of their local pork-barreler. (E.g. folks here in Lowell were glad to see our local statehouse delegation going hard at the Registry to retain our local branch).

What seems to me to be required is a method of transparency that doesn't yet exist. If porkers were more clearly exposed in what they were doing, they'd at least have to make a better effort to achieve a semblance of fiscal decency. When the pork is to benefit all citizens fairly, that would be one thing. But when the pork is for the personal enrichment of a few coincidental campaign donors, the Attorneys General should be first to be reading the transcripts.