CAGW Names Rep. Mike Rogers November Porker of the Month

 

(Washington, D.C.) – Today, Citizens Against Government Waste (CAGW) named Rep. Mike Rogers (R-Ala.) its November Porker of the Month for his second unsuccessful attempt to convince his fellow Republican lawmakers that it would be a good idea to restore earmarks.  During a closed-door meeting on November 14, 2014, by a vote of 145-67, House Republicans rebuffed Rep. Roger’s effort to earmark projects for “state, locality, public utility or other public entities.”  Rep. Rogers was also named CAGW’s Porker of the Month in April 2012, after his first failed attempt to end the earmark ban on March 30, 2012. 

Rep. Rogers made his pitch even though House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) had already made it crystal clear that the earmark moratorium would continue under his leadership. 

Rep. Rogers justified his persistent campaign to lift the ban by claiming that it transfers too much power over spending decisions to the executive branch.  Rep. Rogers stated “I do not believe most people trust how President Obama spends our tax dollars. … This proposal would allow a conservative, Republican-controlled House to reassert its Constitutional authority over the Obama Administration and the spending decisions it is currently making.”  In 2012, during a similar Republican conference meeting, Rep. Rogers reportedly complained that Congress couldn’t get anything done without earmarks and urged his Republican colleagues to lift the ban.

Rep. Rogers is wrong on both counts.  Congress can change any law at any time and pass spending bills that reflect members’ priorities.  Earmarks never accounted for more than one percent of federal spending; the other 99 percent is spent by agencies according to the statutory authority provided by Congress.

Taxpayers are indeed fed up with the wasteful spending in Washington, but earmarks do not lead to a reduction in spending; they simply allow pork-addicted members of Congress to grease the skids for even bigger, more wasteful legislative vehicles.  Indeed, spending has dropped since the end of the earmark ban due to sequestration; the failure to enact legislation is due to a recalcitrant Senate led by soon-to-be Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.).

Rep. Rogers and his 66 earmark-loving colleagues apparently have forgotten that earmarking led to congressional corruption, including the incarceration of members (mostly Republicans), staff, and lobbyists who used the process to buy votes.   In fact, the earmark moratorium itself has not completely worked as advertised and has led to even less transparency.  While the total number of earmarks has dramatically decreased even under CAGW’s long-standing criteria, there were 109 earmarks totaling $2.7 billion that still managed to weasel their way into the fiscal year FY 2014 appropriations bills.  Only a few individual members could be directly linked to the funding requests.  The vast majority of the earmarked funds included fewer details than those prior to the moratorium.

“Speaker Boehner’s effort to block the return of congressional earmarking is much appreciated by taxpayers.  Indeed, the vote to restore earmarks could sadly have been a lot closer without his leadership.  Rep. Rogers’ belief that earmarks are essential in order to keep the gears of Congress turning is nonsensical and dangerous at best,” said CAGW President Tom Schatz.  “A return to earmarking would again entice members to vote-trade, hold back-room deals, and increase wasteful spending.  Instead of trying to bring back earmarks, Rep. Rogers and the other 66 Republicans who followed his lead should devote their time and energy to restoring regular order to the budget process and cut the bloat that continues to plague government spending.  Voters awarded Republicans control of the Senate and a larger majority in the House in order to do just that:  A return to the bad old days of earmarks would be a repudiation of that mid-term election message.”

For attempting to reinstate earmarks instead of focusing on fiscal restraint, CAGW names Rep. Mike Rogers (and gives his 66 misguided colleagues honorable mention) its November Porker of the Month.

Citizens Against Government Waste is a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization dedicated to eliminating waste, fraud, abuse, and mismanagement in government.  Porker of the Month is a dubious honor given to lawmakers, government officials, and political candidates who have shown a blatant disregard for the interests of taxpayers.

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