Parties no longer equal on pork

posted at 10:13 am on December 17, 2010 by Ed Morrissey

The defeat last night of the OmniPorkulus bill, as the Boss Emeritus calls it, gives us a chance to revisit the long-held — and long-true — belief that both parties are equally addicted to pork-barrel spending.  That certainly proved true enough when Republicans held power, as earmarks skyrocketed and both parties squealed with delight at the trough.  However, a new study by a coalition of of watchdog groups on the FY2011 budget proposal shows that one party has made great strides in weaning itself from K Street slop in the past year — and it’s not the Democrats, as Byron York reports:

A new analysis by a group of federal-spending watchdogs shows a striking imbalance between the parties when it comes to earmark requests. Democrats remain raging spenders, while Republicans have made enormous strides in cleaning up their act. In the Senate, the GOP made only one-third as many earmark requests as Democrats for 2011, and in the House, Republicans have nearly given up earmarking altogether — while Democrats roll on.

The watchdog groups — Taxpayers for Common Sense, WashingtonWatch.com, and Taxpayers Against Earmarks — counted total earmark requests in the 2011 budget. Those requests were made by lawmakers earlier this year, but Democratic leaders, afraid that their party’s spending priorities might cost them at the polls, decided not to pass a budget before the Nov. 2 elections. This week, they distilled those earmark requests — threw some out, combined others — into the omnibus bill that was under consideration in the Senate until Majority Leader Harry Reid pulled it Thursday night. While that bill was loaded with spending, looking back at the original earmark requests tells us a lot about the spending inclinations of both parties.

In the 2011 House budget, the groups found that House Democrats requested 18,189 earmarks, which would cost the taxpayers a total of $51.7 billion, while House Republicans requested just 241 earmarks, for a total of $1 billion.

Where did those GOP earmark requests come from? Just four Republican lawmakers: South Carolina Rep. Henry Brown, who did not run for re-election this year; Louisiana Rep. Joseph Cao, who lost his bid for re-election; maverick Texas Rep. Ron Paul; and spending king Rep. Don Young of Alaska. The other Republican members of the House — 174 of them — requested a total of zero earmarks.

The Senate GOP didn’t do as well, but still managed to dial it down, at least a bit.  Democrats requested over 15,000 earmarks for a total of almost $55 billion, while the Republicans in the upper chamber made over 5300 earmarks that totaled $22 billion.  That still suggests that Senate Republicans need a big dose of Tom Coburn and Jim DeMint, which they’ll get with Marco Rubio’s arrival.

Granted, Republicans didn’t hold power in this budget cycle — or, they haven’t held power yet in this budget cycle.  With the failure of OmniPorkulus, the GOP will take charge of the rest of the budget year as soon as they take office.  Putting Hal Rogers in charge of Appropriations doesn’t send a comforting signal, but for the first time the committee will have porkbusting crusader Jeff Flake on board, who will make porkers famous, in John McCain’s old phrase.  Without pork greasing the wheels, Congress will have to vote on spending bills for their overall value, not for the self-serving home-district projects they can buy, and that means more pressure to reduce spending and cut programs.

Both parties still need to improve, but at least one party shows that they’re willing to try.  As long as the Tea Party activists keep pressure on them, we’ll continue to see improvement, or we’ll continue to see new faces on Capitol Hill.


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As long as the Tea Party activists keep pressure on them, we’ll continue to see improvement, or we’ll continue to see new faces on Capitol Hill.

Frankly, I am moreso hoping for the latter aspect here. We have too many career politicians running around Washington who have become totally addicted to pork and the only way we will ever see this really changed is to get these people out of office and replace them with some more level-headed, clear-thinking people who will actually be there working for us, and less for their own personal agendas, and that includes over-the-top pork barrell spending.

pilamaye on December 17, 2010 at 10:17 AM

As long as the Tea Party activists keep pressure on them, we’ll continue to see improvement, or we’ll continue to see new faces on Capitol Hill.

That is Ed’s way of saying that the beatings on the Hill will continue until the spending habits of Congress improves.

Word.

ted c on December 17, 2010 at 10:17 AM

and pilamaye implies a good case for Term Limits.

The likelihood of spending increases in inverse proportion to the amount of distance that a politician is to the trough. IE, the closer they are to the bank, the more likely they are to spend the dough.

Word.

ted c on December 17, 2010 at 10:19 AM

That is Ed’s way of saying that the beatings on the Hill will continue until the spending habits of Congress improves.

Word.

ted c on December 17, 2010 at 10:17 AM

Love it, ted!

Where did those GOP earmark requests come from? Just four Republican lawmakers: South Carolina Rep. Henry Brown, who did not run for re-election this year; Louisiana Rep. Joseph Cao, who lost his bid for re-election; maverick Texas Rep. Ron Paul; and spending king Rep. Don Young of Alaska. The other Republican members of the House — 174 of them — requested a total of zero earmarks.

Why look who we got here!
It’s Mr. Constitutional spending freak Dr. Ron Paul.
I can’t believe it.
Do his fawning fans know?

Jenfidel on December 17, 2010 at 10:22 AM

I wouldn’t mind so much if these earmarks were introduced as stand-alone legislation, open to debate, and pegged to the Constitution other than the Santa Commerce Clause or the “generally supporting welfare” clause…

At least that way we could see who was trying to raid the till and why, and could at least stop most of it before it ever got near passage.

But, earmarks? Simply a coward’s way to steal.

And Ron Paul? Why am I not surprised in the least?

coldwarrior on December 17, 2010 at 10:30 AM

Copycat LOL

LFRGary on December 17, 2010 at 10:31 AM

Word.

ted c on December 17, 2010 at 10:19 AM

pa pa ooh mau mau

The Trashmen.

OkieDoc on December 17, 2010 at 10:33 AM

What did Ron Paul want?

Pablo Snooze on December 17, 2010 at 10:37 AM

Ron Paul for …President of Pork

runner on December 17, 2010 at 10:38 AM

This is great data re the house Republicans, but depressing regarding many of the Republican senators, who have, in their minds, become accustomed to living in a different world. It is too bad that we continually have to fight some of those supposedly on our side.

GaltBlvnAtty on December 17, 2010 at 10:57 AM

The two biggest porkers in the Senate are both Republicans – Cochran and Wicker of Mississippi. Without these two disgraces, the GOP Senate record would be considerably better.

Time for some primary challenges in Mississippi.

cool breeze on December 17, 2010 at 11:11 AM

cool breeze on December 17, 2010 at 11:12 AM

Already Pounding Hutchison (63 Earmarks) and Cornyn (45 Earmarks) on this. We’re about to come up with a new award: The Rosanne Barr Tone-Deaf Award (remember what she did to the National Anthem?) We might have our first two winner, although some of our State Reps are likely recipients if they re-elect Straus as House Speaker down here.

michaelo on December 17, 2010 at 11:19 AM

If the Establishment GOP politician can’t be retrained, the logical answer is primaries.

So Jim DeMint might want to rethink his, I won’t primary incumbent GOP pledge. It’s gonna take – what it takes.

Dr Evil on December 17, 2010 at 11:22 AM

yet ANOTHER reason why I don’t like Ron Paul. I just don’t get the attraction to that loon.

search4truth on December 17, 2010 at 11:23 AM

What is this “individually defensible” crap I keep hearing?

d1carter on December 17, 2010 at 11:24 AM

That is Ed’s way of saying that the beatings on the Hill will continue until the spending habits of Congress improves.

thats great, love it!

maineconservative on December 17, 2010 at 11:28 AM

I don’t condone the earmarks from the Republicans but a lot of them were stuffed in the Omnibus to embarrass them. These items were requested early in the year but the Dems didn’t put together the spending bills the way they were suppose to.

I do believe that some of these, on both sides might be legitimate projects but they should all be voted on separately based on their merits.

What really bothers me is that Reid gave up on this so easily which will allow votes on the Dream Act and others we don’t want in this session. I sure hope the Republicans don’t roll over on this one, or others.

New Patriot on December 17, 2010 at 11:33 AM

A new analysis by a group of federal-spending watchdogs shows a striking imbalance between the parties when it comes to earmark requests. Democrats remain raging spenders, while Republicans have made enormous strides in cleaning up their act

Memories:

And in nine days, in nine short days, nearly half the nation will have the chance to join us in saying that we are tired of business as usual in Washington. (Cheers, applause.) We are hungry for change, and we are ready to believe again. (Cheers, applause.)

(Chants of “We Want Change! We Want Change!”)

Barack Obama
January,2008

….memories…..


“what I’ve done throughout this campaign is to propose a net spending cut…. What I want to emphasize … is that I have been a strong proponent of pay-as-you-go. Every dollar that I’ve proposed, I’ve proposed an additional cut so that it matches.”


Obama
Third Presidential Debate

…memories…memories….memories…….

One year from now, we have the chance to tell all those corporate lobbyists that the days of them setting the agenda in Washington are over. I have done more to take on lobbyists than any other candidate in this race – and I’ve won. I don’t take a dime of their money, and when I am President, they won’t find a job in my White House.

– Barack Obama

Candidate Obama said then “we can no longer accept a process that doles out earmarks based on a member of Congress’ seniority, rather than the merit of the project. We can no longer accept an earmarks process that has become so complicated to navigate that a municipality or non-profit group has to hire high-priced D.C. lobbyists to do it. And we can no longer accept an earmarks process in which many of the projects being funded fail to address the real needs of our country.


..Reality….

Despite campaign promises to take a machete to lawmakers’ pet projects, President Barack Obama is quietly caving to funding nearly 8,000 of them this year, drawing a stern rebuke Monday from his Republican challenger in last fall’s election. …

In the 2011 House budget, the groups found that House Democrats requested 18,189 earmarks, which would cost the taxpayers a total of $51.7 billion, while House Republicans requested just 241 earmarks, for a total of $1 billion.

The Senate GOP didn’t do as well, but still managed to dial it down, at least a bit. Democrats requested over 15,000 earmarks for a total of almost $55 billion, while the Republicans in the upper chamber made over 5300 earmarks that totaled $22 billion.


Reid: Lobbyists are people, too

posted at 6:45 pm on January 20, 2009 by Ed Morrissey

Reid invited top lobbyists to join him and his supporters for an inaugural brunch Monday where he told ABC News that he will still do plenty of business with them.


“And there’s nothing wrong with that,” said Reid. “And Obama will be meeting with them too.”

Dems dodge ban on $$ from lobbyists
By: Jonathan Martin
June 18, 2009 03:46 AM EST

President Barack Obama’s strict ban on lobbyist contributions will limit the haul from Thursday night’s fundraising dinner for congressional Democrats, but organizers have found a way around it: a morning-after event at the same hotel where lobbyists — and their money — will be welcomed with open arms.


Lobbyists on pace for record year

By: Victoria McGrane
December 22, 2009 04:38 AM EST

Main Street has had a tough year, losing jobs and seeing little evidence of the economic revival that experts say has already begun.


But K Street is raking it in.


Democrats’ ambitious legislative agenda pushes K Street salaries skyward

By Silla Brush – 02/23/10 06:00 AM ET

>Lobbyists for healthcare, energy and financial interests had a banner year in 2009, with the average payout for each reaching as high as $177,000.
Despite his push to rein in special interests, President Barack Obama sparked a boom on K Street with major new proposals on healthcare, climate change and financial policies.

Democrats dominate list of lobbyist: fundraisers
Mon, Apr 26 2010

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The Democratic Party’s 2010 congressional election campaign is looking to an elite group of lobbyists for bundled political contributions worth hundreds of thousands of dollars, according to a study released on Monday.

The priorities of Democrats, exposed

posted at 5:25 pm on February 12, 2009 by Ed Morrissey

Elected representatives on Capitol Hill complain that they have not yet received the final Porkulus write-up, but that’s because Democratic leadership on the Hill had more important people to consult. US News reports that the Democrats sent the bill to K Street lobbying firms before getting it to the people who need to vote on Porkulus:

EXCLUSIVE: Lobbyists help Dems draft climate change bill

Democratic lawmakers who spent much of the Bush administration blasting officials for letting energy lobbyists write national policy have turned to a coalition of business and environmental groups to help draft their own sweeping climate bill.


Government for Sale: How Lobbyists Shaped the Financial
Reform Bill
By Steven Brill

The battle over that carried-interest provision was dwarfed by the real action this year — the massive financial-regulatory-reform bill hammered out by a House-Senate conference committee and targeting what the White House says were the causes of the economy’s near meltdown in 2008. The legislation, which would bring more change to Wall Street than anything else enacted since the New Deal, was a Super Bowl for lobbyists.

How Drug-Industry Lobbyists Won on Health-Care
By Karen Tumulty

and Michael Scherer

Waxman’s loss that day was a big victory for drug companies, which have spent more than any other segment of the medical industry to make sure that they come out winners in the effort to overhaul the nation’s health-care system. It’s understandable the drugmakers would want a roll-call accounting of who their friends and enemies are, considering the size of the investment they are making on Capitol Hill: in the first six months of this year alone, drug and biotech companies and their trade associations spent more than $110 million — that’s about $609,000 a day — to influence lawmakers,


…memories…..

But here’s what I know. I know that when people say we can’t overcome all the big money and influence in Washington, I think of that elderly woman who sent me a contribution the other day, an envelope that had a money order for $3.01 — (cheers, applause) — along with a verse of Scripture tucked inside the envelope. So don’t tell us change isn’t possible. That woman knows change is possible. (Cheers, applause.)


Hey Obama…
………that “elderly lady” that sent you the $3.01…
………..she wants her money back…
……………the “Scripture” tucked inside said “Thou shalt not lie”….

Baxter Greene on December 17, 2010 at 11:43 AM

Pork does not benefit the District

Recent research at Harvard Business School began with the premise that as a state’s congressional delegation grew in stature and power in Washington, D.C., local businesses would benefit from the increased federal spending sure to come their way.

It turned out quite the opposite. In fact, professors Lauren Cohen, Joshua Coval, and Christopher Malloy discovered to their surprise that companies experienced lower sales and retrenched by cutting payroll, R&D, and other expenses. …

This study undermines the entire rational for pork, if we can establish this as common knowledge, pork loses its appeal.

One possible way to improve the budgeting process would be for the initial budget bill to be an empty scaffold, every line item would have to be added in the House as a separate amendment. Another possible improvement would be be for the House to prioritize the line items via a ranking vote, after that vote to add them to the budget one item at a time, until the spending limit is reached.

The spending limit would have to be set first, either at the previous years revenues or some agreed upon limit.

The one line item that has to go in first is the pay for the Title 3 judges, the Constitution prohibits their pay from being reduced during their term.

LarryD on December 17, 2010 at 11:58 AM

yet ANOTHER reason why I don’t like Ron Paul. I just don’t get the attraction to that loon.

search4truth on December 17, 2010 at 11:23 AM

Ron Paul is a conman that puts P. T. Barnum to shame.

And guess what? He’s likely to run for president again. He loves him some money bombs, because the $31 Billion in pork he’s sucked up in his career wasn’t enough.

Rebar on December 17, 2010 at 12:17 PM

During the Bush administration the (D)emocrats proposed 97 times the spending increases. Not 97 more… 97 TIMES the spending increases. They just had to deal with the (R)epublicans then so everyone shared in the looting. But since 2006 Nancy Pelosi(D) and Harry Reid(D) have ignored the (R)epublican minorities and with Barack Hussein Obama to sign anything they passed they took looting to a new level… Billions of dollars became Trillions of dollars… I call it rape.

DANEgerus on December 17, 2010 at 12:36 PM

Note to Jeff Flake: Consider resurrecting former Dem Senator William Proxmire‘s Golden Fleece Award, minus the anti-science sentiment (he was anti-NASA) unless it’s pure pork, i.e. $84K for why people fall in love. Or create the monthly “Golden Porker” Award, with Silver/Bronze runner-ups and a Diamond Porker of the Year. Publicize it and get face time on Fox & the LSM with each award.

AH_C on December 17, 2010 at 12:40 PM

Pork does not benefit the District
….
LarryD on December 17, 2010 at 11:58 AM

+1

AH_C on December 17, 2010 at 12:43 PM

Calling this type of spending calls too much attention on the cost, which is relatively minor. Calling them by their more accurate name, corruption, focuses attention on the fact that large amounts of unnecessary spending and regulation gets passed in order for Congress members to benefit from these smaller payoffs.

pedestrian on December 17, 2010 at 1:27 PM

I don’t think earmarks per se are the problem, it is the process. Some of the projects that taxpayers are asked to fund are probably worthy causes.

Each earmark/project should see the light of day and be voted on for it’s merits. Sneaking them in during the still of the night means they probably wouldn’t get past the smell test when reviewd.

Hey, if Mississippi wants a bicycle or walking path, let Mississippians vote a tax increase to fund their park. Why should someone in North Dakota pay for it.

If the people in Iowa want the stench of their pig farms to go away, let them figure out a solution. The smell doesn’t bother me here my part of the country.

I’ll bet if the locals who are receiving this pork were asked to pay for it, they’d quickly reject it.

It’s always easier to have someone else fund your pet projects.

In fact, that is what a liberal defines as charity – using other people’s money to show their benevolence.

Why should the taxpayers be called upon to help a congressman get re-elected because of all the “goodies” they delivered with no cost to themselves? And if the congressman is retiring, why should we fund some bridge/school/building to honor that congressman for his/her benevolence?

iamsaved on December 17, 2010 at 1:41 PM

And I’m sure in the msm’s eyes, those 4 Republicans are being pilloried, and crucified far and above any Democrat and their earmark. *sigh*

capejasmine on December 17, 2010 at 5:47 PM