CAGW Releases 2012 Congressional Pig Book | Citizens Against Government Waste

CAGW Releases 2012 Congressional Pig Book

Press Release

For Immediate Release
April 17, 2012


Contact:  Leslie K. Paige 202-467-5334 Luke Gelber 202-467-5318

CAGW Releases 2012 Congressional Pig Book

(Washington, D.C.) – Today, Citizens Against Government Waste (CAGW) released the 2012 Congressional Pig Book, the 21st edition of the group’s exposé of pork-barrel spending. CAGW was joined at the Phoenix Park Hotel in Northwest Washington, D.C. by Senators John McCain (R-Ariz.), Tom Coburn (R-Okla.), Jim DeMint (R-S.C.), and Pat Toomey (R-Pa.), as well as Representatives Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.), Jim Jordan (R-Ohio), Tom Price (R-Ga.), and Paul Broun (R-Ga.) for a press conference announcing the release. Also in attendance were two live pot-bellied pigs, Bubbles and Churchill, courtesy of the Pig Placement Network in New Jersey and their handler for the day, Susan Magidson.

The 2012 Congressional Pig Book is a proverbial “good news, bad news” story. The good news is that, according to CAGW’s criteria, the number and cost of earmarks have decreased dramatically since fiscal year (FY) 2010, when the last Pig Book was published. The number has dropped by 98.3 percent, from 9,129 in FY 2010 to 152 in FY 2012, the fewest since CAGW published the first Congressional Pig Book in 1991. The cost has decreased by 80 percent, from $16.5 billion in FY 2010 to $3.3 billion in FY 2012, the lowest amount since 1992.

The bad news is that the moratorium on earmarks has been breached by Congress.

Since Congress declared the 2012 appropriations bills “earmark-free,” there are no lists of which members requested the earmarks or the location and purpose of the expenditures, which is a disturbing departure from the transparency of the past several years. Therefore, there are numerous opportunities for members of Congress to contact federal agencies after the fact and request that money to be directed to a district or state for the programs that have received mini-“slush funds,” despite the requirement that the money be spent competitively.

For example, there is an $8.4 million earmark for Heritage Partnership Programs through the National Park Service, which has received 48 earmarks since 2001 worth a total of $28.7 million for a wide variety of initiatives, including park improvements, sports complexes, bike paths, and agricultural tourism. There is a $5 million earmark for abstinence education, which was not requested by the Department of Education; that program has received 126 earmarks since 2001 worth a total of $8.2 million. The Office of National Drug Control Policy got an earmark of $38.5 million for the high intensity drug trafficking areas program, which has received 28 earmarks since 1997 worth a total of $117.5 million. Based on an Executive Order issued by President Bush and a similar memo from President Obama, federal agencies should release the contents of any contact from members of Congress seeking a specific expenditure; i.e., an earmark, to a district or state outside of the competitive process.

“Because a moratorium is not a permanent ban on earmarks, a bipartisan group of senators is proposing such a ban,” said CAGW President Tom Schatz. “Since that effort has been rejected so far, it is reasonable to conclude that a majority of senators would like to restore earmarks. Such a decision would bring back a deceptive practice that encourages backroom deal-making, vote swapping, and other political gamesmanship. It would also reverse the substantial progress that has been made in reducing the number and cost of earmarks and outrage the vast majority of taxpayers who continue to oppose any earmarks.”

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