Council for Citizens Against Government Waste Praises Earmark Reform; Calls for a One-Year Halt for all Earmarks

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(Washington, D.C.) – The Council for Citizens Against Government Waste (CCAGW) reacted positively to the announcement by the House Appropriations Committee Chairman David Obey (D-Wisc.) and Defense Subcommittee Chairman Norm Dicks (D-Wash.) that the committee will no longer accept earmark requests directed to for-profit entities.

“CCAGW supports this step on the journey toward the complete elimination of congressional earmarks,” said CCAGW President Tom Schatz. “Over the last three years, under intense pressure from taxpayers, member of Congress have been ratcheting down their earmarks and the earth has not stopped rotating on its axis. With each reduction, members confirm what CCAGW and other taxpayer groups have been saying all along: Historically, Congress has not had to earmark in order to do the taxpayers’ business and that Congress can, and should, live without earmarks.”

In fact, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) last week called for a one-year moratorium on all earmarks but has not made any specific proposal to implement her plan. Tomorrow morning, the House Republican Conference will consider a proposal by Rep. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.) to agree to a unilateral one-year moratorium on all earmarks. CCAGW today sent letters to members of Congress supporting both propositions.

“It is vital for members of Congress to go beyond the Obey-Dicks proposal and support a moratorium on all earmarks,” said CCAGW President Tom Schatz. “The for-profit ban should address some of the most egregious earmarks, such as $2.5 billion for the C-17 cargo airplane and $465 million for the alternate engine to the Joint Strike Fighter, which the Pentagon’s chief spokesman yesterday called ‘a colossal waste of money.’ However, it is a distinction without a difference, as an earmark is still an earmark.”

“The Appropriations Committee press release stated that for-profit entities ‘applying for federal funding will not have to earn that funding based on the merits.’ That says all that taxpayers need to know about earmarks – that they are not funded based on the merits, but rather on which entity has the best lobbyists and knows how to work the system. There is no reason that non-profit entities, such as state and local governments, universities, museums, opera houses, and theaters, which obtain some of the most ridiculous earmarks, should be allowed to continue to play pork-barrel politics and avoid obtaining grants on a competitive basis. The committee claims its plan will eliminate 1,000 earmarks, which is only 10 percent of the 10,160 that Congress approved worth $19.6 billion in 2009. Taxpayers don’t want an exemption; they want an end to all earmarks,” Schatz added.

The Council for Citizens Against Government Waste is a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization dedicated to eliminating waste, fraud, mismanagement and abuse in government.

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