Is Earmarking for Pigs or Public Prospects?

Is Earmarking for Pigs or Public Prospects?

As we finish the 111th Congress, we are still talking about pigs heading to the trough verses helping the everyday economic woes of Main Street and our family’s hearths. This is why we need to demystify and clarify the earmark process rather than throw out “pork.” For now, earmarks remain an option for state and local governments as well as non-profits, so it’s time to find out if an earmark is right for your community-based interests.

Earmarks offer an opportunity for Members of Congress to direct funds to specific projects that address the economic needs of their communities.

Rural and urban America both have the same problem, they are generally underfunded due to the economic downturn. Earmarks direct funds to areas of need rather than just areas of big pig power.

A review process for earmarks does exist to weed out much of the “trash.” Sometimes projects slip through that may seem like “trash” to the rest of us, but are a “treasure” to the community where the funding is headed. Here’s what happens:

All earmarks, also known as line-item projects, must be submitted by a U.S. Senator or Representative to the respective Appropriations Committees by a specific deadline. It then has to be posted on the Congressperson’s website for easy access by the public. When the earmark is placed in its corresponding Appropriations Bill, the name of the Member of Congress who submitted the request is placed along side it, to continue the transparency process. If you don’t believe me, get busy, look it up on the House, Senate or Library of Congress websites, and stop complaining. The earmarks are there for you to see.

Next, each appropriations bill with the attached earmarks go through the subcommittee and full committee for further cleansing. If they are approved, they go to the floor for debate and a vote. Again, the projects list is viewable by the public if you learn how to watch for it.

So when they call “soo-ee” time, earmarks offer some important economic prospects for your hometown and Main Street, and very little “trash.”

Get involved and be confident that your elected representatives are making the right choices about which “feed” to bring home. Earmarks boost local Main Street economies and represent about 1 percent of the total federal budget. These funds build roads and bridges, water and wastewater systems, leverage economic development projects, hospitals, universities, reduce crime and produce scientific and technological advances. These days we all need a little hope. The real 500 pound gorillas to be tackled in order to bring down federal spending are defense spending and entitlements. Until we fix these problems, we’ll never make the kind of dent we need to reduce government debt and put more money in our family’s pockets.

When it comes to earmarks, remember that these pigs can fly!

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