CAGW Releases Report on History, Abuse, and Future of Earmarks

For Immediate Release Contact: Curtis Kalin 202-467-5318
November 15, 2015  

(Washington, D.C.) –  Citizens Against Government Waste (CAGW) today released a new report entitled “All About Pork:  The History, Abuse, and Future of Earmarks.”  The report was featured this morning on “Full Measure,” hosted by five-time Emmy Award winner Sharyl Attkisson, which is available on Sinclair Broadcasting Groups’s 162 stations nationwide. 

The report begins with the Founding Fathers’ views on why parochial spending should be limited and moves through to the current status of earmarks.  President James Monroe said in 1822 that federal money should be limited “to great national works only, since if it were unlimited it would be liable to abuse and might be productive of evil.”  His prescient words became a reality after high-profile boondoggles and an explosion of earmarks that culminated in a record $29 billion in 2006 led to jail terms for Reps. Randy “Duke” Cunningham (R-Calif.) and Bob Ney (R-Ohio), as well as lobbyist Jack Abramoff. 

After finally recognizing that earmarks breed corruption, where tax dollars are doled out on the basis of political favoritism rather than merit, Congress adopted a moratorium on earmarks beginning in fiscal year (FY) 2011.  By Congress’s definition, every subsequent fiscal year has been free of earmarks.  However, by using the groundbreaking definition it pioneered in 1991, CAGW has identified 366 earmarks costing taxpayers $10.2 billion since the moratorium as adopted.

Since a moratorium is not a permanent ban, there has been a plethora of bipartisan pleas to restore them.  CAGW’s report cites a dozen negative consequences of earmarks in order to help counteract these so far unsuccessful calls for a return to the bad old days of pork-barrel projects.

CAGW President Tom Schatz said, “CAGW’s report cites the heroes and villains of earmarking throughout the nation’s history.  It is critical that members of Congress and taxpayers recall the sordid history of earmarks in order to prevent them from once again pervading the appropriations bills.  The only way to stop further talk about earmarks is to permanently ban them.”

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

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