Hensarling continues to try to eliminate earmarks, and his GOP colleagues keep fighting to keep them. Earmarks are a tiny percentage of the federal budget, but they are the most egregious example of waste in government spending. They lead to corruption, special-interest pandering, and stupid projects. According to the Center for Media and Democracy:
The 1970 Defense Appropriations Bill had a dozen earmarks; the 1980 bill had 62; and by 2005, the defense bill included 2,671. Among the earmarks in the 2005 bill was money to eradicate brown tree snakes in Guam. Similar increases are seen in the history of the Transportation Appropriations Bill. When President Dwight Eisenhower proposed the first national highway bill in the 1950s, there were two projects singled out for specific funding. In August 2005, when Congress passed a six year, $286.4 billion Transportation Bill, there were 6,371 earmarks, ranging from $200,000 for a deer avoidance system in Weedsport, New York to $3 million for dust control mitigation on Arkansas’ rural roads. In all, there were roughly 15,000 congressional earmarks in 2005 at a total cost of $47 billion.
Note that in 2005 Republicans controlled Congress. And Jeb Hensarling was fighting even then to rein them in. AfterÂ the GOP lostÂ control of the House in 2006 — which even Karl Rove attributed to out-of-control spending — you’d think they would have learned. But no. If there is one issue on which a clear, bright line could be drawn between Democrats and Republicans, it could be earmarks.Â But as a friend of mine says, “The Democrats are the dangerous party. I, on the other hand, belong to the stupid party.”