Everyone Loses in the Earmark Game

By Senator John Cornyn Posted in | | | Comments (23) / Email this page » / Leave a comment »

Senator John Cornyn

Many of my colleagues profess to be bewildered by the extremely low poll ratings being generated by the current U.S. Congress. They hear that the public is not happy with the way Washington operates, but they don’t believe they need to do anything about that -- as if all that unhappiness was somebody else’s problem, and not their own.

I’m not so sure. I believe the public discontent can be accurately sourced, and Congressional earmarking process has become a symbol for wasteful and undisciplined federal spending. Earlier this month, I joined a bipartisan group calling for a one year moratorium on all earmarks. That effort failed. We missed a major opportunity to show we are serious about tightening our Congressional belts during a difficult economic period.

Read on.

A study by Taxpayers for Common Sense recently noted that “Congress disclosed 11,234 earmarks worth $14.8 billion in this year’s spending bills.” It noted an “additional $3.5 billion worth of earmarks were added with no sponsor identified,” making a grand total of $18.3 billion in Congressional earmarks this year. Yes, that number was reduced slightly from the previous year, but many of my constituents are hardly impressed.

As the Taxpayers for Common Sense study states: “Much of the public outcry about earmarks results from concern that earmarks are part of the pay-to-play culture in Washington, where taxpayer money is diverted to reward campaign contributors, lobbyists, and political cronies with pet projects.” The earmark process is subject to harsh criticism indeed – that it’s riddled with secrecy, corruption and wasteful spending. While I believe that representatives elected by the people, rather than government bureaucrats, should have the ability to direct these funds, the system we have now is broken, and it’s not being fixed.

The public’s skepticism about earmarking is well documented. The Congress didn’t employ an organized earmark process until the 1980s. By 1994, earmarking was so out of hand that Republicans included an earmark cutback in the Contract with America. But after a brief period of fasting, Republicans began opening the gates again, and public confidence in their Congress resumed its current downward trend.

Since taking over in 2006, Democrats have shown no appetite for forgoing pork. In fact, we heard last week that the computer system in a House committee was so overloaded with earmark requests from various Members that it broke down under the strain. We clearly have not learned our lessons.

Of course, Congress has funded a number of worthy projects via earmarks. Limited reforms last year have shed some light on the process, forcing lawmakers to affirm they receive no financial gain from their earmarks. But as one of my colleagues put it, the system is not merely a case of a few bad apples in a barrel. One state getting $600 per capita in earmarks, and a dozen others getting $25 a person or less is more political than equitable.

A few states, especially those with senior members on appropriations committees, are doing very well under the current system. But most states are being shortchanged. Whenever taxpayer money is sent to Washington for bureaucratic handling and then dispersed via a largely opaque process, democracy is not being well served.

Even a one-year moratorium on earmarking was too great a sacrifice for the political class in Washington this month. We could have used that time to regroup and put in place a process for local expenditures that is fair, transparent, and defensible to the public. We missed that opportunity, and it will not be surprising if the public continues to object to our inaction.

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Everyone Loses in the Earmark Game 23 Comments (0 topical, 23 editorial, 0 hidden) Post a comment »

It's the other 434 that need to be thrown out!!!

Man is free at the moment he wishes to be. --Voltaire

Please continue to fight this horrible practice.



Fighting for conservatism one day at a time.

but you are not. We the people are watching and we will hold those who continue to abuse their positions accountable. Thank you for your tremendous work on this issue.

Freedom of Religion not Freedom from Religion

One that I use whenever debating my liberal friends.

"A democracy will continue to exist up until the voters discover that they can vote themselves generous gifts from the public treasury. From that moment on, the majority will always vote for the candidates who promise the most benefits from the public treasury, with the result that every democracy will finally collapse due to loose fiscal policy, (which is) always followed by a dictatorship.”

-Alexander Tyler

Keep up the good work, Senator.

...the computer system in a House committee was so overloaded with earmark requests from various Members that it broke down...

After all, Bill Gates is the man who made ctrl-alt-del famous.

"I believe we must adjourn this meeting to some other place." - The last recorded words of Adam Smith.

"Since taking over in 2006, Democrats have shown no appetite for forgoing pork."

Didn't Senator Cornyn himself direct $13.9 million in pork to his District in the FY2008 budget?

The other republican Senator from Texas voted against the earmark bill. She supports earmarks. Good thing she is not running for re election, otherwise I would have to support the other person.

BTW, she asked for 3x John.

At my Senatorial Convention, we passed a resolution to end earmarks. I will be at the State Convention trying to make that part of the platform.

"There are some who've forgotten why we have a military. It's not to promote war; it's to be prepared for peace."
-- Ronald Reagan

Kicking someone when they're trying to articulate a principled stand and a new way of doing things in Washington doesn't help stop the practice, and it doesn't encourage anyone to come forward to help stop the practice.

I salute Senator Cornyn for fessing up on this issue and helping America articulate a different direction. Congress needs to lead on this issue. This should be their Bible:

Porkbusters Public Steps

1. We admitted we were powerless over bacon, earmarks and pork - that our lives had become unmanageable.

2. Came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.

3. Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood Him.

4. Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.

5. Admitted to God, to ourselves and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs.

6. Were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character.

7. Humbly asked Him to remove our shortcomings.

8. Made a list of all persons we had harmed, and all the bacon we had earmarked, and all of the troughs we'd fed from, and all the people whose money we spent, and became willing to make amends to them all.

9. Made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others.

10. Continued to take personal inventory and when we were wrong promptly admitted it.

11. Sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God as we understood Him, praying only for knowledge of His will for us and the power to carry that out.

12. Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these steps, we tried to carry this message to spendthrifts, prodigal sons and daughters, earmarkers, and pork addicts public and private, and to practice these principles in all our affairs.

I hereby volunteer to help assemble, print and mail a Porkbusters 12 Step Pledge package to every member of Congress, personalized with their photographs, printed on recycled paper and with environmentally-friendly ink, suitable for signing, framing and display, to serve as a constant reminder of their pledge, in a completely bipartisan fashion.

All I ask is that we take up a collection to cover my printing and mailing costs and a truly modest amount to cover my time. I would like this to be something every member of Congress can proudly affix to their office wall. Would anyone like to get involved?

My contact form works.

We realize that you are addicted to pork and earmarks. We also acknowledge our role in creating this embarrassing disgrace of financial malfeasance with the People's Money. And therefore we are willing to help.

Citizens have no problems with earmarks going to their own districts. I defy any Congressman to tell me the last time his constituents came to him pleading to STOP the earmarks going to their OWN district. And in the aggregate, that means citizens have no problem with earmarks.

And earmarks have been going on for many years, no matter who was in control of Congress. Yet Congress' approval ratings have fluctuated sharply over that time, rising and falling. Their approval rating was high in early 2007 and then started falling sharply after that.

So why are voters disappointed with Congress now?

Voters are disappointed with Congress because they elected Congress in 2006 to oppose the Bush Administration policies but didn't get what they hoped for. That's why they tossed out the Republicans and put in Democrats. But the Democrats have failed to do that and the public feels let down.

When the voters lose confidence in an Administration, they will typically elect the opposition party to control Congress to provide counterbalance. They prefer gridlock to an Administration that they perceive as doing the wrong things.

In 1994, voters who were disgusted with the failures of the Clinton Administration on health care elected a Republican congress to provide some counterbalance to the Clinton Administration. Gingrich gave them that (and then some), which is why the Republicans managed to keep public support and keep control of Congress.

If Gingrich had been as passive in the face of Clinton Administration opposition as Reid and Pelosi have been with Bush, the Republicans would have lost Congress again way back in the 1990s.

Pelosi is not like Sam Rayburn or Newt Gingrich--a powerful Speaker of the House who can effectively run the country from Capitol Hill. So the public has no real leader they have confidence in at this time. Not in the Executive Branch and not in Congress either. No wonder they're disappointed.

I've contacted both Senator Bond and Congressman Blunt and told them on no uncertain terms that I wasn't proud of them for 'bringing home the bacon'. I'll bet I'm not the only American with a brain.

Some of us recognize that our guys' pork just gets multiplied by 425 (excluding the 10 decent legislators in existence) and added onto our annual tax bill.

And I'd best not say anything else lest I begin to swear.

I meant what I said and I said what I meant. An elephant's faithful 100 percent.

...a long habit of not thinking a thing wrong, gives it a superficial appearance of being right...

---Thomas Paine---

....the guy in charge of the group managing the Republican's 2008 House election efforts...Oklahoma Congressman Tom Cole...does not think earmarks in and of themselves swing elections.

In commenting on the 2006 election, Cole recently stated :

“Earmarks are not the reason that we lost the election. I can’t find a single seat we lost because of them.”

.

How is the Mr. Cole's NRCC doing in the fundraising department agian?

...a long habit of not thinking a thing wrong, gives it a superficial appearance of being right...

---Thomas Paine---

at this point I have come to the firm belief that ANY AND ALL people who have spent more than 2 years in Washington DC are corrupt.

There is no other explaination for the absolute mess that the federal budget is in.

Any board of directors of a company in such financial distress would be fired... if not prosecuted.

Throw the bums out...
Vote anti-incumbent.

QUIT SPENDING MORE MONEY THAN COMES IN... and increasing taxes is NOT the answer.

Did ANYONE in congress (house or senate) pass Economics 101?
Apparantly not...
They definitely don't act like they learned anything if they took the course.

It's tragic that in Texas, we have one Senator (Cornyn) who at least tries to be sympathetic to the views, values and interests of Texas Citizens, while his counterpart, Senator Hutchison "the Queen of Pork", offsets all his worthy efforts and sells out Texans at bargain basement prices!

Even more disturbing is the fact that after single handedly undermining the Secure Fence Act, indeed, most efforts to secure our borders and enforce our immigration laws, it appears that Senator Hutchison (realizing her chances at another term as Senator are non-existant), is delusional enough to think Texans will accept her selling us out as Governor?

After Governor Perry, do Republicans really need another marginally elected RINO usurping their will and selling us out to business interests?

I have developed a philosophy that I feel offers a considered approach to ending corruption, undermining the bureaucracy, and reversing the power of incumbency that are undermining our Legislature.

1. If an incumbent is opposed in the primary, vote for the opposition.

2. Never re-elect anybody.

3. Never allow one party to control Congress and the White House, raegardless of your own party affiliation.

Didn't any of you realize that Senator Cornyn had a Republican opponent during the Primary? If you hated pork, and you fear the pork frenzy of adding even more Democrats in Washington, why didn't you all vote to return Senator Cornyn to the private sector?

Plain and simple, Senator Corny does take advantage of pork wherever and whenever possible. To his credit, he hasn't been as bad as his colleague Senator Hutchison, and we have been, on several occassions able to "force" Senator Cornyn to accept the "public will" on a miniscule number of issues. Imagine what we could accomplish if we elected Senator's who understand and respect the concept of the will of the people as it informs our government of the people, by the people, and for the people? As bizarre as it may sound, Republican incumbents and candidates are counting on "fear of Democrats" to get them elected. Were these fears not so realistic and tangible, it might do some good for Republican's to wander in the desert for another term or two. At least by then, the party leaders who've screwed us so badly this past decade will have passed from the scene, and who knows, maybe we'll start getting candidates who understand and respect their duty to serve the interests of America's Citizens and the will of the people? I attended the SD2 convention as a delegate. Based on the resolutions that we, the people, voted on at the convention, our present crop of legislators, with few exceptions, are nowehere near being in touch with their constituents. John Cornyn and Senator Hutchison would have benefitted by being at these conventions. Certainly the calls to "get a rope" might have alerted them to the fact that whoever they think they might be representing in Washington, it sure as hell ain't the Citizens of Texas!

In the recent primary.

Sorry to Mr Cornyn... I voted to replace you.

Congress is doing DISMALLY at managing the finances of the federal government.

The President has VERY LITTLE control over government spending. Congress has the keys to the treasury. (and seems to be shoveling money in all directions as fast as they can STEAL IT from taxpayers)

You want to gain some respect?

1) Get a bill on the floor for OPEN PUBLIC DISCUSSION that requires a ballanced budget. (then no one will dare vote against it...)
2) Put a bill on the floor that will PROHIBIT pay increases for congress until the REAL bottom line shows that the federal government is spending less than it collects in taxes.
3) Impliment the "Fair Tax" virtually eliminating the IRS
4) AND MAKE IT REQUIRE VOTER APROVAL TO RAISE THE TAX RATE

5) Get us back on a gold standard for the value of the dollar. STOP inflation. (Quit having the government create more money to spend when it runs out)

6) GET THE WALL BUILT AND GET ILLEGAL IMMIGRATION HANDLED
funding was already approved for a large section of it... BUILD IT
legal immigrants are welcome... illegals are criminals by definition.
No more catch and release awaiting a hearing (which they never show up for)... HOLD IN PRISON UNTIL DEPORTED

Then I might consider voting for you to stay in office.

 
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