Members of Congress have developed the earmarking process into a fine art, skillfully asking for — and getting — dollars for specific local programs in their home states and districts without actually putting their names on the requests. Last year's mountain of earmarks — 13,997 of them — cost taxpayers $27.3 billion, says Citizens Against Government Waste.
Rep. Tom Prince, a Republican from Georgia, has introduced a sensible bill that amends House rules so that members who ask for earmarks will have to attach their names to the requests. Across the way, Sen. John McCain has introduced the Pork-Barrel Reduction Act, which has a provision that also requires the identification of lawmakers who propose earmarks.
The remainder of the bill is an attempt to make it more difficult for Congress to slip through earmarks.
Forcing disclosure won't end the problem of earmarks. Many in Congress strut and preen over their ability to bring home the pork. Shameless lawmakers such as Sen. Robert Byrd, D-W.Va., and Sen. Ted Stevens, R-Alaska, have never been shy about admitting they squeeze taxpayers across the country to pay for pet projects that they believe make them look good back home.
Porkbusters, a group at truthlaidbear.com that is dedicated to cutting the budget, has named these gentlemen Nos. 1 and 2 in the Pork Hall of Shame, but there's little chance that it bothers them.
Ideally, earmarks should be eliminated entirely. They are not legitimate federal expenditures. There are real people out there paying high taxes for goodies that others will avail themselves to.