October 12, 2009

John Murtha; King of Pork

The general response to complaints about earmarks is that they are such a minute portion of total spending that they are not worth worrying about . Last spring despite campaign promises to reign in earmarks Obama admitted "On occasion, earmarks have been used as a vehicle for waste, fraud and abuse." He then went on to sign a budget containing nearly 9000 earmarks worth about $7.7 Billion . It will be interesting to see if the president will be tougher this time around. From the Pittsburgh Post Gazette:

In September the Center for Public Integrity showed that last year 12 of 16 members of the House Appropriations Defense Subcommittee, which is chaired by Johnstown Democrat John Murtha, earmarked $100 million in government work for firms linked to friendly lobbyists, contractors and contributors.

Last week the organization released a new review that found similar interactions by 10 of the 16 members now on the committee. In next year's defense spending bill, the House version contains 30 earmarks obtained by subcommittee members that direct $103 million to contractors who either employ or recently employed former personal staff members or subcommittee aides who are now lobbyists.
Its not that the money is being spent, its how its being spent that is criminal. As Obama admitted "Projects have been inserted at the eleventh hour, without review, and sometimes without merit, in order to satisfy the political or personal agendas of a given legislator, rather than the public interest," This scam with the taxpayers money is nothing more than a modern day spoils system.

In the USA, the granting of offices and favours among the supporters of a party in office. The spoils system, a type of patronage, was used by President Jackson in the 1830s in particular, and by Republican administrations after the Civil War. The practice remained common in the 20th century in US local government.

The term is derived from a speech after an election victory by Democratic Senator William Marcy: ‘To the victor belong the spoils of the enemy.’

Wahington Times; March 2009 Obama Signs Spending Bill, Vowing to Battle Earmarks

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