Acton Institute Powerblog

Passing on the Pork

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As noted at WorldMagBlog (among many other places), the incoming Democratic majority in Congress is suspending the process of earmarking, at least temporarily.

Rep. David Obey, D-Wis., and Sen. Robert Byrd, D-W.Va., the incoming chairmen of the House and Senate Appropriations committees, have pledged that “there will be no congressional earmarks” in the upcoming budget.

Earmarks will be available again in the 2008 budget cycle, after “reforms of the earmarking process are put in place.” There’s a lot of smoke right now around the talk of earmark reform. We’ll see next year whether there’s any fire.

Last month Tom Schatz, president of Citizens Against Government Waste, said that making lasting earmark reform will be difficult: “There are three parties in Washington: Democrats; Republicans; and appropriators,” CAGW President Tom Schatz said. “Democrats should expect any serious reform efforts to meet stiff opposition from appropriators who have no qualms about breaking party lines, or the bank, to keep their pork.”

According to CAGW, Rep. Obey has appropriated over $5.5 million in pork since 2005, and has a lifetime rating of 19% or “hostile.” Sen. Byrd, meanwhile, is crowned “The King of Pork” with a rating of 17% and a tally approaching $1 billion in pork since 2000. More on “the King” here.

It’s an open question, then, whether Byrd’s and Obey’s commitment to real reform is authentic.

In the meantime, I recommend checking out other resources at Citizens Against Government Waste.

Jordan J. Ballor Jordan J. Ballor (Dr. theol., University of Zurich; Ph.D., Calvin Theological Seminary) is a senior research fellow and director of publishing at the Acton Institute for the Study of Religion & Liberty. He is also a postdoctoral researcher in theology and economics at the VU University Amsterdam as part of the "What Good Markets Are Good For" project. He is author of Get Your Hands Dirty: Essays on Christian Social Thought (and Action) (Wipf & Stock, 2013), Covenant, Causality, and Law: A Study in the Theology of Wolfgang Musculus (Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 2012) and Ecumenical Babel: Confusing Economic Ideology and the Church's Social Witness (Christian's Library Press, 2010), as well as editor of numerous works, including Abraham Kuyper Collected Works in Public Theology. Jordan is also associate director of the Junius Institute for Digital Reformation Research at Calvin Theological Seminary.

Comments

  • I don’t know. I just have a really hard time seeing Sen. Byrd as a crusader against pork. Letting that man chair the appropriations committee is akin to letting the fox guard the henhouse.

    No, wait, it’s like serving a full chicken dinner to a famished fox.

    My money would be on earmarking remaining a significant (or even growing) problem for the foreseeable future.

  • [i]My money would be on earmarking remaining a significant (or even growing) problem for the foreseeable future.[/i]

    That’s funny, because that’s exactly where your money will be (tax money, that is).

  • It’s strange that I just can’t seem to find the humor in that…

  • Well there’s funny “ha ha” and then there’s funny “ewww,” as in, “that smells funny.” Usually the latter statement doesn’t mean “that smell makes me laugh.”

  • With the Democrats’ promise to pause earmarks, there’s a lot to consider. It will be interesting to see how this issue plays out. When it comes to the public’s understanding of the nation’s finances, the American people are surprisingly tuned in, willing to make sacrifices and extremely understanding of fiscal challenges. But when it comes to government spending, there are some trust issues.
    http://www.publicagenda.org/research/research_reports_details.cfm?list=104