Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Boyda & Moore lead on earmark transparency; Moran and Tiahrt MIA

Following Congresswoman Nancy Boyda's lead, Congressman Dennis Moore from the Kansas 3rd District has released a list of the federal funding he has requested for FY2009.

Republican Congressmen Todd Tiahrt & Jerry Moran have not (typical from the party of "fiscal responsibility). Neither have either of our US Senators.

As we've said before, Boyda has taken the lead on earmark reform, and, hopefully, will succeed in passing legislation to force her Kansas colleagues who are lagging behind to catch up to her.

Under these new, more transparent rules, the total cost of earmarks in the 2008 federal budget dropped by 42% – the first decline in a decade.

Calls for further reform are quickly gaining momentum. One proposal would require Congress to list all earmarks within the text of a bill, rather than in legislative committee reports (as has been a common practice in the past). The idea is worth considering, but it seems to me that shifting earmarks from one venue to another is not enough to end corruption. Instead, we must make the entire budget process more transparent.

That's why I'm sponsoring legislation to require all Member of Congress to post their earmark requests online – not just the earmarks they receive, but every earmark they request. Taxpayers have the right to know how Congress wants to spend their money.

I began holding myself to this standard of accountability last June, when I posted my 2007 earmark requests to my Congressional website. This was a sharp break from the traditional secrecy of the budget process: CNN went so far as to call me a "maverick." Maverick or not, it just makes sense that greater transparency will lead to a more efficient, more effective federal budget.
No one called him a maverick, but CongressmanTiahrt did get a particularly auspicious bit of recognition recently- Citizens Against Government Waste listed him the 34th biggest "porker" in their annual "Congressional Pig Book, " which ranks Members of Congress based on the dollar amount of earmarks they've secured for their district.

This blog doesn't have a problem with earmarks, but we don't mind providing perspective. Tiahrt was 34th, followed by Jerry Moran at 103rd, Congresswoman Boyda at 114th, and Dennis Moore at 367th.

Hopefully Kansas Republicans (and their online minions on the blogs) will remember Boyda and Moore are both out passed in "pork barrel spending" by our two Republican members.


Anonymous said...

oink oink boyda.

bringing home the pork and showing it to us.

congrats piggy.

Anonymous said...

i really don't get how the republicans can rant about earmarks.

can someone explain to me how on earth it's bad she's asking for money for local law enforcement?

Anonymous said...

I'd be happy to explain. It's not bad to ask for money for local law enforcement, but it's bad to receive the money as an earmark. Earmarking is inherently unethical because it evades all budget controls designed to save taxpayers money. There aren't any congressional hearings to see if the project has merit (especially compared to other projects). There is no competitive bidding. There is no authorization (which means Congress doesn't even study the issue). Finally, there is no oversight. Was the money spent well? If not, why is Congress giving it more money?

These are simple things that Congress owes us when they spend our tax dollars. Also, Boyda and Moore aren't doing taxpayers any favors by revealing their earmarking request. It's like telling taxpayers how much money they are going to steal from a bank before they steal from a bank.

Boyda, Moore, and the rest of the KS delegation are perpetuating a corrupt process.

Funding for local law enforcement can be done, it just has to go through the proper, ETHICAL budgetary process.

Anonymous said...

i disagree fundamentally.

a common misconception about the earmark process is that it adds dollars to the federal budget. It doesn't- it only designates to an individual agency how they're to spend the money given to them by the federal government. Thus, every single regular control on "how was the money spent" are followed..unless, of course, the agency is violating the law..and that's a whole 'nother problem.

Boyda and Moore are doing us all a favor..we can see what they're asking for, and we can decide if, like boyda says, if they pass the smell test. if the project is worthwhile- great. if not, out on their asses.

earmarking is a deeply important part of being an advocate for your district, which is why it's so upsetting jim ryun has promised to not (which is the best flip-flop of the season so far).

Anonymous said...

BoydaBloc, haven't you read TheKansasRepublican, bringing home the bacon is precisely why we should re-elect Congressman Tiahrt!

Anonymous said...

but...but...but...i thought it was BAD nancy boyda got us earmarks, crazy republicans?

why is it good for Todd but bad for Nancy?

Anonymous said...

Your explanation that earmarks don't add to the deficit is technically correct, but it's a narrow intrepretation. Earmarks are used to buy votes to pass larger, more wasteful bills. Earmarks are handed out by the Approps Cardinals based on favor-trading (Murtha's Corner, anyone?). An extension of that is that earmarks are not given out based on merit. Approps members get the lion's share. The members who frequently fight with leadership or Approps get nothing.

Combined, all of these things contribute to a horribly corrupt environment. It's one of the major contributing reasons why the GOP lost in 2006.

Also, earmarks are carved out of the budget, but they are still funded without budgetary controls that taxpayers should demand the use of by Congress.

Finally, we haven't even mentioned the Constitution. If we follow it strictly, then earmarks should not exist. If we follow it loosely, then the only earmarks that exist would be those of national interest (No swimming pools or teapot museums). If we don't follow it at all, then you have the current system.

Anonymous said...

Gee, I wonder if Anons 3 and 8 are Patrick Leopold. If you're going to use your boss' stump speech to argue with bloggers, you might as well just post it under her name.

I hope Lynn will not be offering any support to or accepting any from Sens. Roberts and Brownback or Reps. Tiahrt and Moran, as they all are bigger porkers than Reps. Boyda and Moore.

If anyone is interested, Sens. Roberts and Brownback brought home more bacon than Rep. Boyda as well.

Jason G said...

114th for Boyda? Out of 435? That's not a very good rank. I am glad to hear about her bringing transparency to the process by listing her requests on her web site! It's a good start.

John Wallace said...


The term "Earmark" is most comonly used to refer to a provision (line-item) in legislation that directs funds to be spent on specific projects. Members of Congress insert earmarks into bills in order to direct specified amounts of money be given or spent on particular organizations or projects in their home states or districts. This differs from the appropriation of budget money to a particular government agency where the agency head can exercise discretion as to where and how the funds are spent. If the funds aren’t earmarked by members of congress, the agencies are free to spend money on projects they believe are most appropriate to meet their organizational goals and objectives.

Earmarks can more accurately be described as giving away the taxpayers hard earned money by secretly attaching line-items into non-related congressional bills for specific projects or specific recipients in order to get re-elected.

Many of the beneficiaries of these earmarked funds are state or local public agencies, but just as often, the money goes to private entities where the beneficiaries are political supporters of the legislators pushing the earmarks. Earmarks are the principal means by which Members of Congress “bring home the pork” and publishing their earmarks during an election year is a common tactic used to help incumbent members of congress get reelected.

It is not so much that any single earmark is the problem, but rather it’s the entire process. There is no real transparency or accountability in the current system. Members of congress try to re-direct billions of dollars of funding to specific projects within their district without subjecting these projects to debate by their colleagues, or to scrutiny and oversight by the public. The earmarking process invites backroom deals and sometimes unethical, or even corrupt behavior. It has become part of a “pay-to-play” culture where lobbyists, contractors and well-connected individuals give campaign contributions to legislators in return for receiving federal funding via earmarks for their special projects.

While the vital interests of the nation are being ignored by members of both houses of congress regardless of party affiliation, many legislators concentrate their efforts on diverting appropriated agency money to low-priority and sometimes outrageous special interest projects that will generate local publicity and additional campaign contributions.

While the country suffers from an invasion of illegal aliens and cannot seem to find the funds for increased border security, congress earmarks $3.4 million to research the Formosan Subterranean Termite and $10 million to La Raza, a pro-illegal alien amnesty organization. While the country goes deeper and deeper into debt and the dollar seems to lose its value every day, congress earmarks $450,000 for the International Peace Garden in Dunseith, North Dakota and $13.5 million for the International Fund for Ireland, which includes funding for the World Toilet Summit. While the nation’s education system is failing the American people, congress earmarks $2 million for the Charles B. Rangel Center for Public Service at the City College of New York and another $200,000 for the Andre Agassi College Preparatory Academy in Las Vegas, Nev.

The House of Representatives has recently taken an important first step in reducing earmarks by passing House Rules changes requiring that earmarked spending projects and their congressional sponsors be publicized on the internet at least 48 hours before they are considered for a vote on the floor. Under the new rules, Members of Congress will be required to justify the public need for the specific earmarked expenditures and certify that they won't benefit financially from them. This is a good step forward, but more must be done.

The best way to reduce the number of earmarks is to pass legislation that requires that all bills and legislation be single issue or purposed. An individual bill should address one specific issue and only that issue. Any amendments must directly address that specific issue. No pork, no side issues, and especially no riders. All bills must be published and the discussions open to public scrutiny.

Limiting legislation to a single purpose will make bills more concise, and will substantially reduce the number of expensive special interest giveaways that are routinely inserted into so called "must pass" legislation without any debate. If members of congress want to fund specific projects back in their home states, let them introduce bills for these projects and let these bills be openly debated and voted on.

Candidate for Congress
New York’s 20th Congressional District

This blog is not affiliated in any way with the Kansas Democratic Party, the Democratic National Committee, Congresswoman Nancy Boyda, the Office of Congresswoman Nancy Boyda, or the campaign to re-elected Congresswoman Nancy Boyda. All commentary herein not directly attributed must be considered the opinion of the authors of this blog and not of any other individual, including Congresswoman Nancy Boyda.