The Associated Press launched an earmark investigation over the weekend and CAGW was cited in many of the subsequent articles. Here are some highlights:
Columbia Daily Tribune
Bond & Pork
Using different criteria another organization that monitors public spending, Citizens Against Government Waste, ranked Bond ninth for projects that totaled $310 million.
…Citizens Against Government Waste singled out 35 of Bond’s projects worth $33 million for inclusion in its 2008 “Pig Book,” which summarized the “most egregious and blatant examples of pork.” Among the criteria needed to make the list are that the earmark is not specifically authorized, was requested by only one chamber of Congress, serves only a special interest and is not competitively awarded.
…Last September, Citizens Against Government Waste issued a “pork alert” that included a list of “egregious” Small Business Administration projects. The list included $1.3 million sponsored by Bond, a member of the Senate Financial Services Subcommittee. One earmark sent $700,000 to UM-Kansas City for an Asian Equities Research Center to study China’s stock market.
…Tom Schatz, president of Citizens Against Government Waste, questioned whether funding research in the Chinese stock market should be a federal responsibility.
“If the school would like to do that, there are other ways to obtain that support,” Schatz said. “If the investment banking industry is interested in individuals with those skills, there could be a scholarship program funded by the industry for those who would benefit from that kind of education. This is taking money away from other institutions or other programs that perhaps already exist on a competitive basis and placing it in this one university ahead of others.”
Not everyone thinks Topia Technologies’ earmark is a good use of taxpayers’ money: The nonprofit group Citizens Against Government Waste lists the Topia earmark in its annual “Pig Book,” which identifies what it sees as wasteful earmarks.
“We just feel like it should go through the fair process of competitive bidding. There could be another program that is similar and better and cheaper,” said Alexa Moutevelis, spokeswoman for the group. She said the earmark was included on the list because it was sponsored by only one member of Congress, Dicks, and it awards money to a company that wasn’t required to submit a competitive bid. That can lead to agencies, such as the Defense Department, getting things they don’t need or want.
Carroll County Times
Lawmakers say earmarks have bad rep
President Bush, the presidential candidates and watchdog groups such as Citizens Against Government Waste have criticized the process of designating earmarks. Citizens Against Government Waste publishes a “Congressional Pig Book” each year highlighting pork projects tucked into government spending bills.
…State rankings were based on population to be as fair as possible, said Alexa Moutevelis, media associate for Citizens Against Government Waste. She said that many of Maryland’s earmarks were requested by multiple lawmakers. Earmarks acquired by Maryland’s lawmakers that went to other states or multiple states would also not go toward Maryland’s total.
Chattanooga Times Free Press
Earmarks: Pork or priorities?
Tom Schatz, president of Citizens Against Government Waste, a leading critic of earmarks, said the funding requests lead to a “culture of corruption,” where lawmakers are encouraged by eager agencies and municipalities — and often their lobbyists — to bring home millions of dollars in federal money.
He also said earmarks are granted disproportionately to the districts and states of members of the House and Senate appropriations committees, including Rep. Wamp and Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn.
“Members of Congress view earmarks as a way to get re-elected,” Mr. Schatz said. “It creates inequity. It creates a hierarchy of projects that get approved or not.”
He said lawmakers instead should use readily available federal grant programs to fund projects, which involve competitive applications and statutory guidelines for eligibility.
“If they feel there should be more money available for projects, they should simply give more money to the (grant) program,” Mr. Schatz said.
…Mr. Schatz, however, said the rules aren’t always applied. Citizens Against Government Waste identified 464 earmarks worth $3.4 billlion in last year’s bills that did not include members’ names.
“Even though they had these transparency rules, it’s not working,” he said.
Chattanooga Times Free Press
Tennessee lawmakers bring home bacon
Tom Schatz, president of Citizens Against Government Waste, said all earmark requests should be available for public review. He criticized lawmakers’ unwillingness to disclose fully their requests.
“There shouldn’t be anything secret about it,” Mr. Schatz said. “This is the public’s money, and requests by public agencies for support should be public record.”
Cleveland Plain Dealer
Ohio lawmakers secure earmarks, draw criticism
“You have the earmark tail wagging the federal budget dog,” says Leslie Paige, media director of the nonpartisan budget watchdog group Citizens Against Government Waste.
“They are secretive, they are unaccountable, they are out of control.”
…Paige’s group criticized Regula for a $126,000 earmark he secured with Voinovich that would be used to catalog White House library books so the National First Ladies Library in Canton could purchase duplicate books for its collection.
…Paige said she was “outraged” that a member of Congress would steer money to entities that employ family members. “It is starting to look like a banana republic out there,” Paige said of Regula’s earmarks.
Paige and other critics say earmarks also contribute to a pay-to-play culture on Capitol Hill, where companies and lobbyists that benefit from earmarks give donations to legislators’ re-election campaigns.
NH gets share of federal money
“There’s no such thing as a good earmark,” said Tom Schatz, president of Citizens Against Government Waste, a nonpartisan group that tracks earmarks. “They all go through the same noncompetitive process that favors members of the appropriations committee and gets divided by a minority-majority formula. There’s nothing equitable about that.”
Schatz and other critics would like to see earmarks replaced with a competitive bidding process. Otherwise, companies seeking money through earmarks must depend on good relations with their congressional representatives, he said.
Rep.’s requests point to donors
“We’ve often referred to this process as legalized bribery,” said Tom Schatz, president of Citizens Against Government Waste, a nonpartisan group funded by individual contributions and corporate foundations. “You’re giving someone a contribution with the expectation a provision will be added to the bill. It doesn’t matter what the members (of Congress) say. That’s what happens.”
Quad City Times
Arsenal receives most of area’s federal earmarks
“It’s the job of the Pentagon to sort that out on a priority basis,” said Tom Schatz, president of Citizens Against Government Waste.
Otherwise, “why have a Pentagon budget at all?” he asked.
…”Being impatient about the time it takes doesn’t justify getting an earmark,” he said.
He said the point of the budget process is to evaluate projects on a national basis, then make choices based on priorities.
Quad City Times
Program attracts businesses to offset installation expenses
“It’s not possible to say after the earmarking process that they’ve picked the best programs,” said Tom Schatz, president of Citizens Against Government Waste. “We’d like to have hearings on every earmark.”