Whitman news since 1896

Whitman Wire

Vol. CLIV, Issue 5
Whitman news since 1896

Whitman Wire

Whitman news since 1896

Whitman Wire

    Congress needs new fiscal diet: Use earmarks sparingly

    As a plump hormonally-charged sixth grader, I often wondered what I could do to better market myself to the fairer sex. I tried to portray myself as a stud: I joined a soccer team the previous summer and, at the time, I played on a competitive hockey team.

    That didn’t seem to work, so I began writing poetry. Not too far into my poetry career, however, I realized that my logical mind excessively seeped from each stanza and ultimately decided that poetry was not for me.

    Perusing the posters that littered the gym one day, I came across one from the United States Department of Agriculture reading “The Food Pyramid.” I suddenly had an epiphany as to why girls began shying away from me when I displayed affection. It wasn’t me, per se, they had a problem with, it was my gut.

    I took a mental note of that poster and for the next few months repeated the line “Eat fats, oils and sweets sparingly” continuously in my mind.

    As hackneyed as this story may seem: one where the overweight kid, through either internal or peer pressure, changes his ways and curbs his weight: these same principles, and particularly those outlined by the food pyramid, can be applied to how we deal with spending.
    The top of the pyramid, that which reads “fats, oils and sweets,” can be likened to earmarks.

    Earmarks are one of the most abused and misinterpreted means of funding in the Congress today.

    Earmarks are specific funds approved by the Congress via the passage of big multipurpose bills that are to be spent on corresponding specific projects: projects that, with the funds, are stipulated in the bill.

    In my home state of Alaska, now scandalized by a congressman’s misuse of earmarks, congressional funding is scarce. Since Alaska doesn’t have much of a population, come passage-of-legislation time it typically gets the short end of the stick while large, metropolis-heavy states like New York and California are appropriated a hefty chunk of taxpayer money. And rightfully so.

    I am in favor of giving states like California and New York large sums of money to pursue worthwhile projects that will innately cost more for them, given their scope and magnitude, than they would for a smaller state. The problem is that while these projects are being heard, other smaller, yet equally important, projects are being neglected.

    Thus, earmarks provide a feasible outlet through which small states can get the money they need via specific projects, while large states continue to get the money they need for more general projects through legislation.

    Without earmarks, small projects would rarely come to fruition because of their lack of legislation. And legislation is the only means of effectively distributing government funding with the least bit of corruption.

    However, as we’ve seen in the ongoing Alaska political scandal, earmarks can and will be abused provided we don’t improve the way we regulate them.

    Earmarks are like fats, oils and sweets. We should use them sparingly to enhance our local communities, but we need not rely on them for sources of capital.

    The key word is “rely.”

    States should not rely on earmarks as the only means for funding. Too much earmarking leads to inefficient and, usually, monetarily wasteful bills. The general trend is that the more earmarks that appear in a bill, the less oversight the bill receives: typically owing to its mere complexity. It is the very reason why earmarks are contentious in the first place.

    Rahm Emanuel, a representative from Illinois and chairman of the House Democratic Congress, said last year that “not all earmarks are equal.” He is spot-on.

    Earmarks are used in one of two ways. The first is where congressmen insert earmarks into bills for lobbyists in exchange for sizeable campaign contributions, vacations, gifts or even outright bribes.

    The second is when earmarks are used for imperative projects such as the Iraq Study Group. The bipartisan panel was put together circa 2006 via an earmark proposed by Rep. Frank Wolf of Virginia in order to stipulate a set of benchmarks needed to hold President George W. Bush and the Iraqi government accountable for progress in Iraq.

    Without the earmark, the study group would have most likely not been proposed, let alone assembled, and we would have had no authority to measure the “progress” the Bush administration claimed to have made in Iraq in the years leading up to the study group.

    Earmarks in sync with the latter are ones we need to keep around while earmarks more akin to the former must be completely eradicated from Capitol Hill. No questions asked.

    Whenever I hear John McCain preach to the choir with his no-look, broadly defined no-pork-barrel-spending plan for the next four years, I can’t help but get sick to my stomach just thinking what would happen if necessary projects, such as the Iraq Study Group, were rejected with a simple signature.

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    • M

      Myspace ProxiesJan 18, 2009 at 12:56 pm

      Excellent articles and great blog, i shared it with my Digg friends on New York , Stumble UP ! , Cheers Andy Colleman – Chicago

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    • D

      dave navarroJan 9, 2009 at 8:42 am

      Generally Ido not post on blogs, but I would like to say that this post really forced me to do so! really nice post.

      Reply
    • J

      john blackJan 8, 2009 at 5:46 am

      Generally Ido not post on blogs, but I would like to say that this post really forced me to do so! really nice post.

      Reply
    • J

      john blacJan 6, 2009 at 1:50 am

      Generally Ido not post on blogs, but I would like to say that this post really forced me to do so! really nice post.

      Reply
    • H

      Heaven Sent TimeApr 25, 2008 at 7:08 pm

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