Schatz: Earmarks are making a comeback

Remember when Congress said it was eliminating earmark spending? Absurd wastes of taxpayer money through pork barrel projects were going to be a thing of the past. Not so fast. These were politicians making those promises.

According to Citizens Against Government Waste President Tom Schatz, earmarks – even if that is not what lawmakers are calling them – are making a comeback. The difference? Now members of Congress do not have to attach their names to the items they slide into federal appropriations bills. If anything, the system is worse than it was before.

A few examples:

Defense officials say they did not request the $1 billion spent on a single Arleigh-Burke Class Destroyer. Someone in Congress told the Pentagon they needed another ship.

Ever heard of the Bilateral Economic Assistance Democracy Fund? It is meant for tasks such as “supporting democratic institutions in Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union.” Even the Obama Administration has said it is not necessary, has not asked for more money, and wants to eliminate it. This year, Congress gave it $150.5 million.

What about breast cancer research? Certainly a worthy way to spend taxpayer money. It is reasonable to assume money for that kind of research would be directed toward the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention or some other health-related federal agency. Nope. Congress directed $120 million this year to the Defense Department, for peer-reviewed breast cancer research.

Based on items in the CAGW list, Congress approved more than $5 billion in what used to be called earmark spending this year. That is nearly $1 billion more than last year. Yet, “There are no names of legislators, no list or chart of earmarks, and limited information on where and how the money will be spent,” according to CAGW.

Congress has made it easier to waste our money, not harder. Surprised?

We thought not.