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Thursday, February 14, 2008

18 Members of Congress Don't Use Earmarks

by Jay Allbritton
I was surprised to learn that earmarks make up less than one percent of the federal budget. That's not a right wing talking point. I found that out a few weeks ago listening to a liberal economist on C-SPAN. His point was that even though it only makes up a small portion of the budget, it's the gateway for corruption.

Congressional scholar Thomas Mann agrees. "The fiscal fallout of earmarks is trivial," he said. The problem is that they can lead to "conflicts of interest, the irrational and unconstructive allocation of resources, or their use by Congressional leaders as carrots and sticks to buy votes for larger measures that clearly lack majority support on the merits."

Taxpayers for Common Sense
, whoever they are (I'm not convinced this is a credible group, but it's a straightforward issue), issued a report that shows only 18 members of congress don't use earmarks.

Some surprising names turned up on the list.
  • Rep. John Boehner, R-Ohio.
  • Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz.
  • Sen. Russ Feingold, D-Wisconsin
  • Sen. Jay Rockefeller, D-West Virginia
  • Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Missouri
  • Rep. Henry Waxman, D-California
  • Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Okla.
  • Sen. Jim DeMint, R-S.C.
  • Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis.
  • Rep. Jeb Hensarling, R-Texas
  • Rep. Jeff Flake, R-Ariz.
  • Rep. Eric Cantor, R-Va.
Oddly enough 6 names were missing from the AP's article and I haven't been able to chase those names down.

It's quite a baffling list. "Pa Bell" Rockefeller and "Tobacco Checks" Boehner are two of the dirtiest players in the game, so, I guess if you get enough loot from campaign finance then you can drop the whole earmarking business. Hey, the jig is up anyway, so why not drop the earmarks?

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