Sunday, January 29, 2006

Time to End Earmarks!

Earmarks are those little tricky things that our so called representatives use to sneak their pet projects in. This is where lobbyists get what they want, without the scrutiny these wasteful projects need. These earmarks as usually tacked on to an appropriations bill that is hundreds of pages long. Let's face it, most of those in The House and Senate really never read the full bill, which allows these items to get passed. Mind you, I am not a big fan of John McCain, but ont his issue he is right on target. Attempting any ethics reform, without killing off earmarks, will not be any more effective then the laws and rules that are already on the books. All this handwringing about gifts and trips is not where the problem is. It is with earmarks and those donations they bring into a candidates coffers.

In addition, I strongly believe that the time has come for terms limits for the House and Senate. From the moment a House member is elected, he or she is running for re-election. Talk about an openning for corruption. I suggest two solutions here. First, change the length of the term from 2 years to 4 years. This will cut down on that perpetual election cycle. Second, limit the number of terms to 3, for a total of 12 years. As for the Senate, the 6 year term is fine, the limit should be 2 terms, totally 12 years. Our Founding Fathers were of a mind that citizens would take turns running the government, not a slew of professional politicians.

Senators John McCain and Jon Kyl of Arizona have wrttien an
Op Ed piece on earmarks
. Here are a few exceprts.

""Earmarks" are single provisions in spending bills that often run into the hundreds of pages, provisions that few members of Congress have read or even heard of and often don't find out about until days or weeks after the bills have passed. Earmarking breeds corruption. It's a practice that can tempt even good people to do bad things.

Years ago, President Reagan vetoed a major highway bill because, as he put it, it included "unjustifiable funding for narrow, individual special-interest highway and transit construction projects." That bill included a grand total of 152 such projects that would have cost $1.4 billion over five years.

Fast-forward to 2005: Congress passed a highway bill that was packed with more than 6,500 special-interest projects costing more than $24 billion. We objected to this special-interest feasting at the public trough. We were among just four senators to vote against the bill. We were among the few who similarly opposed last year's energy bill, which was also loaded with special-interest spending and tax provisions."

This is where that bridge to no where in Alaska was added as an earmark.

"Although there are a variety of lobbying reforms that Congress should consider, going after earmarks is key. They are the "prize" lobbyists are after, a prize that comes at the expense of the American taxpayer. That said, it also is perhaps the most difficult practice to end because many politicians perceive it to be the bread and butter that preserve their incumbency.

We're proud that when watchdog groups such as Citizens Against Government Waste rate Congress, we are always ranked among the most careful with tax dollars. CAGW's latest ranking puts us as the best Senate delegation in the nation in watching out for taxpayers' interests.

We have long stood up for the taxpayers, and now it is time for the rest of Congress to join us in putting an end to wasteful spending that benefits politicians and lobbyists but hurts our country. Limit spending, and the influence of lobbyists will diminish with it. If the latest lobbying scandal in Washington proves anything, it is that the time to put an end to special-interest earmarking is now."

It is high time we tell our Congressmen and Senators that they work for us and not some narrow special interest group or lobbyist. All of us need to flood thier offices with e-mails and faxes, telling them that earmarks have to go. While you are at it, you might want to mention that terms limits plan I wrote about. - Sailor

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