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Another Incoming GOP Chairman Was 'Porker Of The Month'

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[Citizens For Government Waste]'s 2008 Congressional Pig Book uncovered 11,610 pork-barrel projects worth $17.2 billion in the 12 fiscal year 2008 appropriations bills. Contrary to what Rep. Mica thinks, all earmarks are bad because they are congressionally targeted expenditures which bypass the normal budget rules and are unaccountable. The 2008 Pig Book included $3,000,000 for The First Tee; $1,950,000 for the Charles B. Rangel Center for Public Service; and $188,000 for the Lobster Institute in Maine.

According to legistorm, Mica requested $58,619,100 earmarks between FY2008 and FY2010.

The full CFGW release, from July 2008, below.

Citizens Against Government Waste (CAGW) today named Rep. John Mica (R-Fla.) its July Porker of the Month for his opposition to an earmark ban and defense of earmarks.

According to the Orlando Sentinel, on July 8, Rep. Mica said, "There's no way in hell I would support banning earmarks ... That's our job, getting elected and making decisions. Yes, there are bad earmarks, like there are bad members of Congress. And what you do is get rid of them."

CAGW's 2008 Congressional Pig Book uncovered 11,610 pork-barrel projects worth $17.2 billion in the 12 fiscal year 2008 appropriations bills. Contrary to what Rep. Mica thinks, all earmarks are bad because they are congressionally targeted expenditures which bypass the normal budget rules and are unaccountable. The 2008 Pig Book included $3,000,000 for The First Tee; $1,950,000 for the Charles B. Rangel Center for Public Service; and $188,000 for the Lobster Institute in Maine.

Earmarking is not Congress' "job," as Rep. Mica claims. Before the 1980s, Congress would fund general grant programs and let federal and state agencies select individual recipients through a competitive process or formula. The House and Senate Appropriations Committees named specific projects only when they had been the subject of hearings and approved by authorizing committees. Members of Congress with local concerns would lobby the president and federal agencies for consideration. The normal budget process, which is aimed at preventing abuse and allocating resources on the basis of merit and need, has become a sideshow in the scramble by individual appropriations committee members to pick winners and losers based on seniority.

Earmarking invites corrupt behavior. Rep. Randy "Duke" Cunningham's indictment and conviction (R-Calif.) for earmarking in return for bribes is the most notorious example. In June, it was revealed that former Congressman John Sweeney (R-N.Y.) is being investigated by the Justice Department for his role in directing earmarks to a lobbyist. On July 2, The Washington Times ran an opinion piece that documented how a program to combat improvised explosive devices in Iraq was earmarked to an inexperienced contractor who had bribed and donated to members of Congress. That program was a failure that cost not just tax dollars, but American lives.

The concept of an earmark ban has gained traction in the wake of these abuses. In March, a Senate amendment to the 2009 budget resolution to impose a year-long moratorium on congressional earmarks was co-sponsored by Sens. Jim DeMint (R-S.C.), John McCain (R-Ariz.), Hillary Clinton (D-N.Y.), Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.), and Barack Obama (D-Ill.), among others, but lost 29-71. Forty Representatives and six Senators have made personal pledges not to request any earmarks this year. An earmark ban will allow members to reform the appropriations process, devote more attention to critical national issues, and help keep money in taxpayers' wallets instead of diverting it to Washington where it can be converted into pork.

For opposing an earmark ban or moratorium and defending the out of control earmarking process, CAGW names Rep. John Mica its July 2008 Porker of the Month.

Citizens Against Government Waste is the nation's largest nonpartisan, nonprofit organization dedicated to eliminating waste, fraud, abuse, and mismanagement in government. Porker of the Month is a dubious honor given to lawmakers, government officials, and political candidates who have shown a blatant disregard for the interests of taxpayers.

About The Author

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Brian Beutler is TPM's senior congressional reporter. Since 2009, he's led coverage of health care reform, Wall Street reform, taxes, the GOP budget, the government shutdown fight and the debt limit fight. He can be reached at brian@talkingpointsmemo.com