Tucson CitizenTucson Citizen

Quit whining about Congressional earmarks

Last week Democrats in the House of Representatives put Congressional earmarks back on the front burner when they voted to ban them for for-profit companies.

Earmarks are the primary way Senators and Representatives bring home the pork, tucking into budget bills special spending designations for projects in their states or districts.

They’ve been assailed by budget hawks as the primary evil in runaway federal spending and by ethics hawks as the primary example of Congressional corruption.

But in the current budget year, there are only about $16 billion in earmarks in a $3.5 trillion budget. They account for less than half of one percent of total federal spending this year. Big deal.

True budget hawks should be more concerned with the $1.4 trillion, or 41 percent of the budget, that we will spend on Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid this year.

Or the $664 billion, about 19 percent of the budget, we will spend on the military.

This year, we’ll spend 75 percent of our budget on the old, the poor (if you include housing and education programs in addition to Medicaid) the disabled, the military, military veterans and interest on the national debt.

All told, that’s about $300 billion more than this year’s expected revenue of $2.4 trillion. So, if you kept all these programs and eliminated the rest of the federal government – national parks, FBI, Border Patrol, NASA and so forth – the federal budget would still be running a deficit.

Yeah, earmarks are the problem.

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