December 23rd, 2009

One Quick Point: EARMARKS! Do You Hear What I Hear?

n1350290252_30233140_7655“Do you hear what I hear?”  Said the taxpayer to the congressman? “Do you hear the ringing through the Christmas sky? Do you hear what I hear? A sound, a sound higher than we can afford, we’ll just print more money…”

Nebraskan Nebraska Gov. Heineman does not want the $100 Million for his state that Ben Nelson bartered for.  He wants things to be fair for Nebraska without special treatment. Click this link for his interview with Greta Van Susteren.

Really though who is counting?   That is chump change compared to Congress passing a $636.3 billion Fiscal Year 2010 defense appropriations bill, the government’s largest spending bill.

The legislation contains 1,720 earmarks worth $4.2 billion, 17 percent less in number and 14 percent less in value from last year (remember that this is only disclosed earmarks: Major additions such as the $2.5 billion for 10 more C-17 Globemaster cargo planes are not included).The four top Congressional appropriators are responsible for 15 percent of the take:

Senate Defense Appropriations Chairman Daniel Inouye (D-HI) sponsored 37 earmarks worth $198.2 million, and Ranking Member Thad Cochran 45 worth $167 million. Over in the House, Defense Appropriations Chairman John Murtha (D-PA) sponsored 23 earmarks worth $76.5 million, while Ranking Member C.W. Bill Young (R-FL) got behind 36 worth $83.7 million.

Here’s a take on the bill’s earmark highlights from

The big:

  • $23 million for the Hawaii Healthcare Network sponsored by Senate Appropriations Chairman Daniel Inouye (D-HI);
  • $20 million for the National World War II museum in New Orleans from Sens. Mary Landrieu (D-LA) and David Vitter (R-LA) plus Rep. Anh “Joseph” Cao (R-LA);
  • $20 million for Humvee maintenance at an Army National Guard installation in Maine sponsored by Sens. Susan Collins (R-ME) and Olympia Snowe (R-ME).

The redundant:

  • 16 earmarks totaling $47.2 million for regional counter-drug centers, nearly all of them repeat earmark recipients. These include $6 million for the Midwest Counter-Drug Training Center and $3.6 million for the Kentucky National Guard Counter-Drug Program.
  • Eight separate earmarks together worth more than $15 million for strategic languages training. The earmarks are sponsored by various lawmakers across both parties and chambers for programs in their districts, such as the Defense Critical Languages and Cultures Initiative at San Angelo University sponsored by Sens. John Cornyn (R-TX) and Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-TX) with Rep. Mike Conaway (R-TX).

And the just plain goofy:

  • $2.4 million for two earmarks installing disabled access aids and a sprinkler system at New York’s Historical Fort Hamilton Community Club sponsored by Rep. Mike McMahon (D-NY) and Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY); $10 million for an “Inventory for Defense Applications to Ensure Reliability of Short Lead Times” (phew) from Rep. John Murtha (D-PA);
  • $1.6 million for “Hi-Tech Eyes for the Battlefield,” courtesy of Sen. Hutchinson;
  • And there can only be one “Highlander Electro-Optical Sensors” at $1.6 million from Rep. Jim Moran (D-VA).[youtube UYGAd4pd2vg]
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About the Author

Dave Davidson is the TIR artjournalism storyteller photographer and founder of (polite) presidential paparazzi with manners. He is the author of gobs of books including "Sarah Palin Inspires Me", "Huckisms" and "You May Be A TEApublican".

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