Earmarks and Pork-barrel Spending
In a rather strange juxtaposition of wording, a Washington insider once said that pork-barrel spending is a sacred cow among members of the United States Congress.
Know as “earmarks” or “Pork”, this is a legislative process by which our representatives in Congress slip their pet projects into appropriations bills. They consider it one of their congressional perks – to bring back the bacon to their districts and states.
You might remember that President Obama, during his campaign for the presidency, promised to deal harshly with earmarks and pork-barrel spending. He said that he would personally scrutinize every bill that crosses his desk and that he would personally eliminate every item that was in the pork-barrel category. Unfortunately, during his first two years in the White House, he has found this very difficult to accomplish.
It’s been documented that during his term in office, more than 8,000 earmarks were passed. That’s right – more than 8,000 earmarks were slipped into legislative bills. Most of these earmarks had little or no justification – particularly in these days of economic distress. In fact, some of them were downright ludicrous!
For example, research into the processing of manure; a study of shrimp processing; restoration of the Bill Cody Museum; a study into the proper method of removing tattoos; A research project into the use of laminated wood; erection of statues and memorials to local heroes…and immensely costly projects like the big dig in Boston, the Bridge to nowhere in Alaska, and lest we forget, the infamous North Shore Connector here in Pittsburgh; all Projects that collectively cost billions of dollars.
As we know, there is currently a battle raging in Washington between the two sides – those who want to eliminate earmarks, and those who don’t want to abandon their self-interest in this political perk and want to maintain them. Oh, and again, lest we forget – all of these projects are underwritten with our tax dollars!
As we know, the country is now more than $13 trillion in debt – almost beyond our comprehension. We certainly don’t need these earmarks to add to that debt.
We once had a western Pennsylvania Congressman who said: “there’s a large trough of money in Washington and we’ve got to get our noses into it.”
Well, it’s time for President Obama and members of Congress to drain that trough of earmarks. We might add that our wonderful state of Pennsylvania has an earmark problem too. We need to have that blemish removed as well. Eliminating earmarks at the federal and state levels should be – and must be a priority in 2011!
Robert W. Dickey
President & General Manager
November 19, 20, 21, 2010
State Rep. Dom Costa from Stanton Heights, is introducing a bill that would create a state receivership to work in tandem with the state Public Utility Commission overseeing improvements at Pittsburg's troubled water and sewer authority. Like Act 47 they would approve budgets, set priorities and decide capital improvements to the system. However IMG Consultants, hired by the city to review PWSA, said that calls for state oversight is premature and could complicate financial maneuvers, with some residents preferring it be handled by local officials rather than under state supervision as was the case in Flint Michigan.
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