Porkalulu. Porkland. St. Pork. Call it what you will, we all live there. Here are a couple of gems from our latest Omnibus Bill.
Robert Novak, 12/22/2007 “One of the largest among 10,000 new earmarks in the omnibus bill is $1,645,000 to purchase bulletproof vests for the city of Bastrop, LA, though vests for the entire police department are estimated to cost only $700 to $800. The earmark was requested by Sen. Mary Landrieu and Rep. Rodney Alexander, both Louisiana Democrats.”
Paul Jacob, 12/23/2007 “House Majority leader Steny Hoyer is supporting earmarks totaling $96 million, including a $438,000 grant to the California-based InTune Foundation Group, to provide music education. InTune officials say they aren’t sure what they are going to do with the money. The group’s director offered that, “It might be music camps. It might be lessons. It might be how to be a DJ. It might be how to create a television show.”‘
Pork well, m’hearties. Dig deep, darlings, and gorge till your britches won’t button up tall. I’m not out to chastise anyone. There are scads of outrageous morsels in this bill, from Post Office Museums, to the Alaskan Ferry to Nowhere (replacing the Bridge to Nowhere). They cut across all demographic lines. They cut across party lines.
Two things disturb me. First, earmarks by definition circumvent the competitive allocation process. So there’s no debate. There’s not even a cursory glance. Ten thousand of these buggers in a single appropriations bill, and all we can do is keep count.
Secondly, once begun, there is no way for a politician to stop earmarking. They’ll hear, “Oh, it was fine when your party was in power,” or, “So you supported decorative tassels on bridges, but you can’t support The Children?” The fact is, once you sponsor an earmark, however ridiculous or deserving, you’re stuck forever. You might as well swan dive into the trough.
US Representative from Minnesota, John Kline, has recently decided to stop seeking earmarks, period. He is traveling from County Board to County Board within his district, and he is getting eviscerated. Kline has carried the nuclear football for President Reagan, so he knows something about pressure. It’s the single most heroic act I’ve seen this election cycle. Vaya con dios, sir, and a safe return from the gauntlet of commissioners.