Earmark pledges ring hollow

While campaigning in Florida for a Republican House candidate, Minority Leader John Boehner (R-OH) told a crowd that his caucus would propose weekly spending cuts should they win the majority in the upcoming mid-terms. Such a promise is welcomed in this day of trillion-dollar budget deficits, but actions speak louder than words and we are seeing signs that this newfound fiscal conservatism may be short lived.

In March, House Republicans enacted a caucus-wide moratorium on earmarks, specific line items that are inserted into spending bills, obviously an easy position to assert when your party is in the minority. But in recent days, Republicans have showed signs that they are not going to hold themselves to that same standard in the likely event that the take control of the lower chamber. In fact, the Pledge to America, the politically safe document Republicans are campaigning on this year, makes absolutely no mention of earmarks.

While earmarks do not account for a significant amount of the overall budget, they are representative of much of what is wrong in Washington. Earmarks have been, as Rep. Jeff Flake (R-AZ) has called them, the “currency of corruption.” They have been the downfall of congressmen and lobbyists and the ire of groups like the Club for Growth.

Many of the criticisms leveled at earmarks are valid. They are often not subject to competitive bidding or proper oversight, though in recent years, members of both chambers of Congress have been required to disclose their requests for earmarks on their congressional webpage. Additionally, earmarks are often egregiously wasteful. For example, earmarks tucked away in the yet-to-be-approved budgets for the upcoming fiscal year, include $900,000 to build a beach park in Pascagoula, Mississippi, $1 million for potato research, and $22.5 million for bicycle paths in various towns across the country.

If Republicans are truly serious about cutting the size of government, they should take a strong and consistent stand on the sort wasteful spending that caused them to lose their majority in 2006. If they opt for business as usual, the tea party movement will be waiting for them in 2012.

30 comments Add your comment

Karl Marx

October 15th, 2010
6:33 am

We need the tea party to start working down to the state and local level. The Republicans in the State of Georgia are some of the worst tax and spend bozo’s in the country.


October 15th, 2010
7:26 am

Vote Libertarian for REAL change you can believe in.

Supreme Being

October 15th, 2010
8:34 am

Term Limits Term Limits Term Limits. If these career politicians ever held a real job, instead of the politics of business, they may actually come in touch with reality. If they are career politician, their job is campaigning and they could care less what happens in between elections so long as they get votes. That is why we have earmarks and we spend $1 million researching potatos.


October 15th, 2010
9:50 am

There was a political ad last night that was interesting. Bill Owens D-23rd, N.Y. , the ad claimed that he voted to spend 1 million+ to study ants in South Africa. I figure that the ants in the U.S. should be studied. Lets keep ear mark spending in this country.

Like with the stimulus-pork barrel- ear mark spending in a sleepy Montana border check point that sees 3 travelers a day. It will get 15 million under Pres Obama’s stimulus plan for upgrade.

Or the ear mark spending that Congress voted for themselves, $350,000 to renovate the House Beauty salon, or 6 million to upgrade the 2 block long Senate subway.


October 15th, 2010
11:04 am

I don’t understand what the problem is. Haven’t repubtards always used earmarks? Why should these beneficial programs stop now. Making a promise never holds up anyway. So just tell the people any old thing and once we get elected, it is business as usual.


October 15th, 2010
11:52 am

While earmarks do not account for a significant amount of the overall budget, they are representative of much of what is wrong in Washington.

That’s nice “conventional wisdom” from the right, but it’s not correct.

The “Citizens United” ruling is representative of much of what is wrong in Washington.

Hillbilly Deluxe

October 15th, 2010
12:16 pm

No politician is going to vote to end earmarks. It’s how they butter their bread.


October 15th, 2010
12:22 pm

Go to Cynthia Tucker’s column from a couple of days ago and watch that video. Not one Republican questioned can tell us one specific spending cut they would make. What’s that tell you. Idle talk is all that is coming from the party that got us into this mess to begin with with 8 years of budget busting and the biggest expansion of government in the history of this country.


October 15th, 2010
12:47 pm

Supreme Being, the Constitution provides “term limits” – Congress: 2 years, Senate: 6 years, POTUS: 4 years. how easy is that? it’s the fact that the very same people yammering about “term limits” continue to ELECT the same politicians year in and year out.

Hillbilly Deluxe

October 15th, 2010
1:13 pm

We actually do have term limits on the Presidency.


October 15th, 2010
1:43 pm

“…his caucus would propose weekly spending cuts should they win the majority in the upcoming mid-terms.”

Note this says “propose” not pass spending cuts. No one is going to seriously cut spending.

paleo-neo-Carlinist at 12:47 is correct. Every single member of the US House of Representatives is out of a job 12/31/2010.

But, there is always a but, all you people will re-elect the vast majority of the House and they will all be employed on 1/1/2011 in the same job they had the day before.

Note: if you keep electing the same people over and over and over things will continue the be the same the same the same.

Is this concept intellectually way over every one’s head?


October 15th, 2010
1:59 pm

“If Republicans are truly serious about cutting the size of government”

Does this look serious:

1. Republicans Nixon and Ford increased spending by 43% or 21.5% per term
2. Republican George HW Bush increased spending by 18% in one term
3. Democrat Jimmy Carter increased spending by 13% over one term
4. Republican George W Bush increased spending by 25% or 12.5% per term
5. Republican Ronald Reagan increased spending by a total of 25% or 12.5% per term
6. Democrat Lyndon Johnson increased spending by a total of 24% or 12% per term
7. Democrat Bill Clinton increased spending by a total of 9% or 4.5% per term.

Republicans have been misleading the American Public on fiscal responsiblity for 50 years. Only guy to fix the problem was Clinton and we saw how he got treated…not that I condone his dalliances I just don’t think they were or are relevant.

paleo-neo-carlinist the 1st, esquire

October 15th, 2010
2:39 pm

I’m with Paleo the Lesser: all you people do is get on blogs to complain and spout your contradictions.

Mr. Spock

October 15th, 2010
3:14 pm

paleo-neo-carlinist the 1st, esquire … quit complaining about people complaining…just another contradiction.


October 15th, 2010
5:15 pm

You can’t make a silk parse out of a sow’s earmark.


October 15th, 2010
5:26 pm

as the libertarian bumper sticker (and fortune cookie) reads; if we do not change our direction, we will end up exactly where we’re headed.”


October 15th, 2010
5:53 pm

It is so clear that politicians will say and do anything to get elected and re-elected I truly wonder if anyone in America beleives a word they say.

jane Balfour

October 16th, 2010
7:24 am

Typical Republican hypocrite! An dust how many earmarks did Barr get while in Congress?


October 16th, 2010
7:29 am

I’ve already researched potatoes, I know how to make french fries, boiled, mashed……..etc. Put the money back in the bank.


October 16th, 2010
8:38 am

The Feds spent several times more of our money in 2009 on Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac than they did on TARP. Where is the accountability?

Keep it Real!

October 16th, 2010
8:42 am

Hopefully that earmark for researching the potato will yield some good results… I want better french fries from burger king.


October 16th, 2010
8:47 am

Bob Barr is wasted on his own trolls. “Earmarks..Ring”. Get it? I know how you feel, Bob Barr. That’s the reason you usually only refer to 1984, Soylent Green, and Chicken Little: because the literate exceptionals on this blog love to hear the same fairy tale over and over.

Hey trolls, I can sound just like Yogi Bear!! “Hey Boo Boo, lets go steal a pickanick basket!”



October 16th, 2010
9:29 am

One thing to remember when comparing gov’t expansion numbers, under Bill Clinton the Republicans controlled both the house and senate for the first time in 50 years. So under all those other republican and democrat presidents, the dem’s controlled congress. Interesting since the president can only approve or veto the budget and spending bills…


October 16th, 2010
3:56 pm

This year we’re seeing record spending on political campaigns. Maybe all these contributions, coming from parts unknown, have no strings attached. We’d like to believe that all the contributions come from concerned citizens worried about run away government. I’d like to believe ice cream wasn’t fattening but I don’t. The truth is that the more we spend on campaigns, the the more our elected representatives spend on government. The more a drunk drinks the drunker he gets. the more we spend on campaigns the more government we get. Want change you can really believe in. Try term limits and public campaign financing.

[...] Earmark pledges ring hollow | The Barr Code. [...]


October 17th, 2010
7:23 am

When have the Republicans EVER submitted a balanced federal budget? NEVER! Even when hey had control of the White House and both houses of Congress they didn’t come close. The Republicans don’t cut spending, they shift it from programs designed to help people (Social Security, MEdicare, Pell grants, etc) to programs that help THEIR people (military industrial complex, big corporations, bridges to no where, etc)


October 17th, 2010
7:57 am


“Interesting since the president can only approve or veto the budget and spending bills…”

And as I remember Clinton was the only one in memory to actually veto spending bills. As for the Repugs…the key components of his success were proper tax levels and Pay as You Go, both of which were implemented prior to the change in congressional control. BTW Duhbya’s first acts included repealing both measures.

You should also remember that the president is the one that submits the budget to congress…if you do the comparisons you will find that in every case he gets what he wants with very minor changes. To say the president does not drive the budget process is incorrect.

The Repugs were then and later part of problem not part of the solution.


October 17th, 2010
8:56 am

Behind the ostensible government sits enthroned an invisible government owing no allegiance and acknowledging no responsibility to the people.
Theodore Roosevelt

In the councils of government, we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist.
Dwight D. Eisenhower

I hope we shall crush in its birth the aristocracy of our monied corporations which dare already to challenge our government to a trial by strength, and bid defiance to the laws of our country.
Thomas Jefferson

I won’t argue that we need to keep government free of the private sector, but it is every bit as important that we keep the private sector out of our government. Billions of dollars are spent buying 30 second attack ads. the purpose of these ads is not inspiration or enlightenment, but rather to inspire fear and to draw our attention away from our real problems.Just one example, every since the days of Nixon, We have acknowledged that America needs to be energy independent. President after president have restated our need to free ourselves of our dependence on foreign oil. Nixon stated that we should be independent by 1980. More recently Bush suggested partial independence by 2025. America doesn’t need foreign oil. The oil companies need foreign oil. The oil companies care for you the same way a drug pusher cares for A crack addict. They love you you’re a valuable customer. They intend to keep you as valuable customers no matter how many sleaze balls they have to elect. A lot of you are correct. America has become a welfare state. What many don’t see , is that these days welfare queens wear Brooks Brothers suits. Mark Twain was right, we have the best government money can buy.


October 17th, 2010
10:08 am

Don’t worry Georgia/America……………………………

We have faced the enemy, and it’s Washington trickling down..



October 17th, 2010
9:08 pm

Republicans’ Tax-Cut Proposals Would Double the Budget Deficit
the GOP’s deficit-detonating tax-cut proposals make the Democrats with their spending look like pikers. The stimulus bill, remember, cost $787 billion. The tax-cut bill that Senate GOP Leader Mitch McConnell unveiled last week—a combination of making permanent the Bush tax cuts and throwing in a host of other tax credits—has a price tag of around $3.9 trillion. For those keeping score at home, the self-styled party of fiscal responsibility wants to blow a hole in the budget nearly five times larger than the alleged profligacy they have spent the last year or more condemning.