Citizens Against Government Waste, which calls itself America's #1 Taxpayer Watchdog, has named its Co-Porkers of the Month for March. Can you guess who they are? Hint: They make up half of Idaho's all-GOP congressional delegation.
2nd District Rep. Mike Simpson and Sen. Larry Craig earned the designation via their recent defense of the congressional practice of earmarking. In a joint press release, the pair argued that earmarks are good because the practice "shifts discretion over federal dollars away from the federal agencies and puts the funds out on the ground in American communities."
But many other legislators - and would-be legislators - disagree. As Jim Hansen, a Democrat who hopes to challenge Simpson this fall, writes on his blog, “Our communities regularly compete with each other for federal grants for all sorts of important projects. When there is strong local involvement including matching funds from the city, the state and other local groups, the chances of receiving the grants are high.”
“The earmarking, pork-barrel process allows some projects to cut in line, to by-pass the competition and get funds directly from the treasury,” Hansen says. “That leaves less money for those projects that may be far more worthy and would prevail in a competitive process but don’t have the political inside track.”
Most earmarks never
appear in printed legislation, but are tacked on at the last minute in
committee or conference reports. Larry Grant, a Democrat seeking the
1st District seat, believes earmarks could be curbed if Congress returned to the pay-as-you-go rules it followed during the 1990s.
Meanwhile, a bipartisan group led by Jeff Flake, an Arizona Republican, is seeking legislation that would help lawmakers eliminate pork when bills come to the House floor. It’s been held in the House Rules Committee for nearly a year. When will Congress get serious about reform? It won’t happen while Simpson and Craig are in charge.
It's interesting to note that although the CAGW press release came out Monday, I can find no reports of any Idaho media covering it. Until now.