Culture of Corruption Updateby Kevin Boyd
Remember last year when the Democrats took over Congress, they campaigned on, among other things, reducing the number of earmarks in Congress. Let’s check into see how they’ve done:
A bill the Senate approved last week to authorize water projects contains 446 earmarks, and the House version has 692.
The Senate bill was the first to come before the chamber since it adopted new rules this year on the practice.
Those rules require earmarks’ sponsors to be identified, ending the secret process in which lawmakers anonymously inserted projects into legislation. Taxpayer watchdogs hoped the new guidelines would curb enthusiasm for earmarks. And they thought Democrats’ decision this year to pass a funding bill without earmarks signaled a dramatic shift.
If the water bill is a sign of things to come, the appetite for earmarks remains undiminished.
“Meet the new boss, same as the old boss,” grumbled Rep. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.), an outspoken critic of pork-barrel spending.
The Senate bill, with its 446 projects, has more earmarks than a version drafted last year when Republicans were in charge. That bill had 272.
What do the Democrats have to say for themselves?
“Just because there are earmarks doesn’t mean that it’s business as usual,” said Jim Berard, spokesman for Democrats on the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, which wrote the House bill.
Democrats have taken steps to “ensure that the earmark abuse that has occurred in the past does not happen again,” he added. “Earmarks can no longer be inserted anonymously, in the dead of night, to please a powerful lobbyist or political supporter. While this will not satisfy some critics, it is a major step toward reestablishing trust with the American public.”
So because Democrat fundraisers haven’t been as brazen as Jack Abramoff, it’s perfectly okay to buy votes in Congressional districts with taxpayer money? This is not what the American people were saying last year when they trusted the Democrats with Congress.