How To Handle Congressional Pork

I have been thinking about the amount of Pork that Congress adds to its legislation. Earmarks, the Congressional PC term for Pork is an extremely intrusive burden on the budget and is a gross misuse of taxpayer money. Congress is entrusted with our money (after it extorts it from us) and they are supposed to use the money to pay our country’s bills and to provide essential services. There are many items that are not specified in the Constitution that Congress spends money on that at least give the appearance of being a benefit (the educational system comes to mind) but when it comes to Pork, the Congress is fiscally irresponsible and self serving. Members of Congress use our money to buy their reelections by “earmarking” money for things that are not necessary to the health and welfare of this country. For Instance:

  • House Appropriations Chairman Rep. Jerry Lewis (R-Calif.) went off the deep end recently when he earmarked a whopping $1 million for a swimming pool in his district. Appropriations Committees in the House and Senate act as the gatekeepers to the lucrative business of earmarks and, as chairman, Rep. Lewis holds noteworthy influence to tack on pet projects to bills in a way that is not subject to debate or oversight. (CAGW)
  • Every year, South Carolina Forest Service employees participate in the All Employee Conference. The three-day conference has become an all-inclusive vacation on the taxpayers’ dime. Activities include arts and crafts, horseshoes, and senior bingo.(CAGW)
  • Citizens Against Government Waste (CAGW) today named Sen. Robert Byrd (D-W. Va.) Porker of the Month for his legacy as the “King of Pork.” Mr. Byrd today becomes the longest-serving Senator in U.S. history.

    Sen. Byrd has sat on the Appropriations Committee since 1959, his first year in the Senate. He is former chairman and currently Ranking Member. CAGW began tracking federal pork with its Pig Book in 1991. Since 1991, West Virginia has received $2.95 billion in pork. Projects added in the Senate (those most likely attributed to Sen. Byrd) total $1.2 billion.(CAGW)

These are just a few examples of the amount of our money the fiscally irresponsible members of Congress are wasting on items that offer no value to the country. People in the other 49 states should not be paying for a swimming pool, a party, or anything named Robert Byrd (fill in the name of the pork item named after him). The money extorted from us by the government can be put to much better use. The problem is, there is no accountability and there is no oversight.

There is a way to change this. The line item veto is a good start but given that most Presidents are no more fiscally responsible than the members of Congress the LIV would be a crap shoot more often than not. It would give Presidents a tool but the tool must be used properly or as I like to put it, just because you have a hammer it does not mean you are a carpenter. Without fiscal constraint the LIV would be useless.

I was thinking more along the lines of making Congress appropriate Pork the same way they go about adding amendments to the Constitution. In order to spend money on Pork the item would need to be presented as a separate bill (no tacking it on to existing bills) and it must be published on the Congressional website for 30 days with complete justification for the expense. Any special interest group that has any involvement in the issue must be disclosed. Then, it must be approved by two thirds of both houses. After that it must be approved by three fourths of the states. The money comes from the people in all the states so they should have a say in how it is spent. We have often been told that it is difficult to amend the Constitution in order to prevent hasty decisions regarding our founding laws. It should be just as difficult to spend money in the fashion described above. The openness of the process would allow everyone in the country to see how their money is being mishandled and it would allow the people who pay taxes to decide how their money is spent.

This process would only apply to any item that Congress calls an earmark. Every other item would be part of the normal (if you can call it that) budget process. Our Constitution is difficult to amend so that we the people do not make rash decisions. The process for wasting the money of we the people should be just as difficult to prevent Congress from making rash decisions with regard to how it is spent.

Read Citizens Against Government Waste to get a real good idea about how your money is wasted.

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2 Responses to “How To Handle Congressional Pork”

  1. Cigar Envy says:

    Tips on Cigars and Golf…

    For the moment, at least, it is still possible to light up a cigar while enjoying a game of golf.
    Even in San Francisco, thanks what I will charitably call a change of heart.
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