Thursday, March 11, 2010

Congress Does Something Right (almost)

Democrat leaders in the House announced that they were banning earmarks targeted to 'for profit' companies. It's a start ...

All of you should know what an earmark is by now ... it certainly has been in the news a lot lately. If not, an earmark is:

An attachment to a piece of legislation that authorizes fund expenditures for a specific purpose not related to the legislation itself. Rules do not require that the attachment be explained, publicized, or voted on seperately. This has been used by members of the House and Senate for decades to take money for 'pork' projects in the districts and states that they represent.

Imagine a bill is going through the House, declaring that next week is National 'The Sky is Blue Week'. Nice, easy to pass bit of legislation - what member of the House would vote against that? However, Rep. Jack Ass has attached an earmark to the bill. The earmark authorizes $10,000,000 to be paid to the XXX Corporation in Ass' home district, to produce gold plated toilet seats for public bathrooms in the county jail. Many members of the House would vote against that, except that they don't know about it. That's what earmarks are for ...

The more seniority a member of Congress has, the easier it is for them to attach and pass through earmarks. Democrats and Republicans alike have abused this for many, many years - bring home the bacon to reward your supporters, and make the voters like you.

The Democrat leadership's move bans House members from attaching earmarks that will end up in money going directly to 'for profit' companies. A good first step, but not enough.

House Republicans immediately called upon Pelosi's bunch to ban all earmarks, including ones for 'non-profit' purposes. Many Republicans have been pushing this stance since Obama took office.

I'm not aware of any such ban effort going on in the Senate - but it needs to be.

The age of earmarks needs to end, period. The practice costs the taxpayers billions upon billions of dollars yearly, expenditures that aren't seen or voted on. Even though our congressmen and women have brought home billions of dollars to Texas over the years, it's wrong. If an expenditure can't stand on its own, can't pass a vote for passage, then it shouldn't be spent - especially these days.

C'mon folks in Congress - if you can do just one thing really bi-partisan, please get rid of the earmark practice ...

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