Pork vs. Public Works
One of the things an effective member of Congress can do is steer federal money to pet projects through a process known as earmarking. One of the things politically active citizens of the United States do is decry earmarks that occur elsewhere while working hard on their member of Congress to acquire earmarks for a perceived need close to where they live or work. So a certain amount of hypocrisy is involved when we get into a snit about earmarks, even ones as outrageous as Alaska's now-infamous "bridge to nowhere."
Our Readers Who Comment (RWC) understand this process pretty well, judging from what they have had to say this morning about the news that House Majority Leader Steny H. Hoyer (D-Md.) is one of the top 10 earmarkers in the House for 2008, according to Taxpayers for Common Sense, an independent watchdog group.
As Mary Beth Sheridan writes in the article, "Hoyer defends his earmarks, saying they fund such worthy causes as cleaning up the Chesapeake Bay and supporting local military bases. For 2008, he has requested millions of dollars to equip police in his district, help schools and improve roads and the Southern Maryland bus network. His $96 million in earmarks includes projects he sponsored alone and with other legislators, according to Taxpayers for Common Sense." Hoyer also inserted $450,000 into a 2008 education spending bill for the California-based InTune Foundation Group, whose Web site describes it as a music-education nonprofit group. It turns out that InTune has yet to report on what it did with a previous earmark of $500,000.
Some RWC are angry, some are sarcastic, some applaud Hoyer for his effectiveness and, of course, some compare the relatively tiny amount of money that goes to earmarks with the cost of the war in Iraq. What could be more American than that?
We'll start with FergusonFoont, who said, "Listen, one man's pork is another man's public works. The chief difference, I believe, is that pork is merely public works that are constructed in a district other than your own. The correct response to this is, 'Way to go, Steny!'
Do the Republicans pay you [to] give these non-news pieces such an archly negative initial inflection?"
And Tupac_Goldstein, a regular often given to sarcasm, wrote, "Voters of Maryland must love Hoyer and his pork -- They keep sending him back to Congress. After all, its only tax dollars."
BlueTwo1 suggested that "...The money to do local projects is always scarce. The Federal income tax is a source of ready cash. Truly worthy projects should be funded after due deliberation, not because somebody is in a leadership position..."
sfmaster said, "As a Conservative Democrat, I'd eliminate the entire earmark program - which has become just a Congressional Slush Fund. Let these projects go through the regular budget process - but that's broken too!"
As for that $450,000 to InTune, niceshoes1 said, "This is a disgrace. $450,000 for a music-education nonprofit group. This is just one item of many items that benefit very few people... If your going to grab federal dollars, at least make it for something important and beneficial."
bdunn1, quoting a 2006 report that estimated the total money spent or allocated for the Iraq war comes at about $255 million per day, wrote, "...That much and more spent every day, for how long? Steny's pork pales in comparison. Stop the occupation."
And robinfickerofrobinrealty, added that "...The Democrats have done absolutely nothing to get us out of Iraq, other than to say they have been against the war from the start, even though they all voted to get us in there in the first place. How many troops has Hoyer had pulled out of Iraq?"
RoboFlop saw punches being pulled in writing, "One thing about the WaPo investigative reporters... they sure hit Dems hard, don't they? If this guy was a Republican, you'd have eaten him alive."
We'll close with sam51, whose analysis is on the mark. He wrote, "...it's only pork if it's going to somebody else, right..."
All comments on Hoyer's earmarks are here.
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