The following was written by Andrew Davis for Conservative HQ. It has been posted here with his permission.
During the 2008 election, Ron Paul became a grassroots icon in his fierce denunciations of Big Government, Big Spending and the federal government’s failure to live by our Constitution.
Unfortunately, his actions don’t match his rhetoric.
According to a Houston Chronicle analysis of the $410 billion dollar spending bill passed by Congress at the end of February, Ron Paul had a role in obtaining 22 earmarks, totaling $96.1 million—making him the pork-leader of Houston’s congressional delegation.
Paul’s office did not respond to comment requests from the Chronicle; however, on Paul’s congressional Web site, it states: “As long as the Federal government takes tax money from [Paul’s] constituents, he will make every effort to return that money to his district.”
Comforting logic, consistent with our Constitution? Not really.
This isn’t the first time Congressman Paul has been caught with his hand in the federal cookie jar. In August of last year, a Wall Street Journal article highlighted Paul’s request for 65 earmarks costing nearly $400 million. This included $8 million for marketing shrimp, and $2.3 million for shrimp-fishing research.
At the time, Paul’s spokesperson told the Journal that, “Reducing earmarks does not reduce government spending, and it does not prohibit spending upon those things that are earmarked.”
“What people who push earmark reform are doing is they are particularly misleading the public — and I have to presume it’s not by accident,” the spokesperson added.
Again, not a very convincing logical justification. And, Paul’s spokesperson certainly didn’t explain how marketing shrimp is consistent with the U.S. Constitution.
Paul is far from the top of the list of Big Spenders in Congress, but he isn’t at the bottom either. Earmarks are a small portion of Congress’ overall spending; however, you have to start somewhere to cut spending, and eliminating earmarks is as good of a place as any.
Although Paul ended up voting against the $410 billion spending bill, he still had his hands in the cookie jar. At the end of the day, he’ll end up with taxpayer cash flowing into his district, but can boast about a clean record.
A list of Congressman Paul’s 2009 earmark requests can be found here.