Earmarks: Talking the talk, but refusing to walk the walk Posted by: McQ
on Tuesday, February 13, 2007
Congress, on both sides of the isle, has been talking a good game against earmarks in public, but they've also been quietly talking to federal agencies urging them to demand those porky projects they favor and have previously earmarked still be funded through those agencies:
Members of Congress quietly have been calling federal agencies demanding their pet projects still be funded weeks after they swore off pork-barrel spending, the Bush administration says.
In response, administration officials have signaled they ignore many of those requests — a move that thrills fiscal conservatives who have called on the president to take that step. But it's likely to irk congressional spending committees because it may threaten 95 percent of pork-spending projects, or "earmarks."
"Some of your offices have begun to receive requests from some congressional offices asking that the department continue to fund programs or activities that received earmarked funds in prior years," the Department of Energy's chief of staff, Jeffrey Kupfer, wrote in a Feb. 2 internal memo. A check by The Washington Times of other agencies turned up similar reports of phone calls — from congressional offices of both parties.
Here's the key point and how most earmarks are surviving the process to "out" them and make them visible:
The administration's recent action is aimed at earmarks slipped into the reports that accompany spending bills, which the Congressional Research Service says account for more than 95 percent of pork projects.
Congress votes on the bills but not the reports. Yet most agencies afforded the reports the force of law — until now.
So essentially, the "reports" went unseen and unexamined. And any Congressman or woman could simply add them to any spending bill. As noted, agencies, because the spending bill and the reports came from Congress, treated the reports as law.
Well, no more:
The administration's case was bolstered by a federal appeals court ruling last month that the reports do not have the force of law.
As Sen. DeMint says:
"We may have totally changed the paradigm on how the federal government spends money," said Sen. Jim DeMint, South Carolina Republican, who has led the congressional fight on the issue. "For years, the risk has been on the agency side — if they don't comply they're going to lose their budget. Now the risks shift to the member."
Or said another way, members can no longer use loss of budget as leverage to force spending on earmarks attached to agency budgets. Additionally, now members have to justify their spending upfront with their name attached for all to see.
Sunshine and transparency ... what a concept.
Last week, Mr. Bush declared open war on the report earmarks, bringing a foot-high stack of the add-ons with him to a speech in Manassas.
"Let that sun shine in. It's called transparency," Mr. Bush said. "If the members of Congress think it's a good idea, then they ought to vote it up or down and then send it to my desk so I know full well that there's been full scrutiny in Congress."
Excellent. That only bodes well for you and me and less well for the porkers in Congress who have raided the treasury at will in the past to fund their pet projects in an attempt to ensure their re-election.
After all the crap with the military airplanes she is just another political hack. Now the Congress is running on either without her (outta control) or with her (hypocrit). Perhaps she should hire Mandy.