Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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November 24, 2003
By: Kevin Drum

YES, PIGS CAN FLY IF YOU KICK THEM HARD ENOUGH....Oink. The Democratic minority on the House Appropriations Committee has written a report about Republican addiction to pork, and while the Washington Post's rendering of the opening chart is a more readable version, I think I prefer the one that's actually in the report itself. Edward Tufte might not approve, but it has a certain charm, don't you think?

The subject of the report is earmarks, which are specific pet projects inserted into bills by congress critters who are eager to funnel some federal dough directly to their own districts. Bottom line: everyone does it, but Republicans do it a lot more.

In the Labor-HHS-Education bill, as the chart shows, the number of earmarks has gone up from zero in 1995, when the Republicans took over, to 1,857 this year.

In the annual transportation bill, Democrats inserted 322 earmarks in their final bill in 1995. Republicans inserted 1,818 this year. In the defense appropriations bill the number has gone from about 300 to 1,800 and in VA-HUD from 265 to 921. Earmarks in the Commerce-Justice-State appropriations bill have skyrocketed from 45 to 966.

Put it all together, and in just these five appropriations bills the number of earmarks has risen from about 900 in 1995 to 7,362 this year.

The entire report is here, and it makes for fun reading in spots. It's full of cartoons and anecdotes, like the $1 million in the education budget earmarked for "The First Tee," a program to teach kids how to play golf. The sponsor of the earmark was that famous tax-cutting fiscal conservative Tom DeLay.

Oink oink.

Kevin Drum 7:01 PM Permalink | Trackbacks

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