Tracking Congressional pork

April 18, 2010

Some call them earmarks. Others use the term “pork.” But it is an age old debate both inside and outside the Beltway. How much federal funding should elected representatives be bringing home for their pet projects at the expense of the national good (not to mention the national treasury)?

One national watchdog group makes the task of tracking Congressional pork easier with a web site that provides a comprehensive list of all funded projects for each U.S. Senator and House member. [Citizens Against Government Waste]

The web site lists 11,610 so-called “pork barrel” projects from Fiscal Year 2008, the last year for which complete numbers are available.

For example, type Lois Capps in the search engine. Up pops 13 different funded projects.  Cong. Capps was able to secure $147,000 for the new Santa Maria Public Library, $490,000 for Santa Maria Transit, and $470,000 for the Oxnard Police Department for records management.

Type in Kevin McCarthy, who represents Arroyo Grande and most of North County. Four projects. for a total of $693,500, are listed. Cong. McCarthy secured $282,000 for the San Luis Obispo County Sheriff’s Department, $146,000 to Cal Poly for new equipment, and $195,000 to CSU Bakersfield for its nursing program.

The good news, critics say, is that funding for earmarks is down 15.5 percent from $19.6 billion in Fiscal Year 2009. [San Francisco Chronicle]

In Congress, 38 Republicans and 11 Democrats did not request earmarks this year.

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If they didn’t take the money to begin with, we would actually be able to manage if and how it was spent.

Until we tighten up the requisite by which these funds are to utilized and enact stiff fines and even possible jail time for those who would cheat the system, more of this can be expected. There is no oversight and even worse no accountability or direct consequence to the perpetrators and as a result this kind of abuse has become rampant.

A good start would be to grant funding on the basis that all gov funds are considered a loan until an appointed oversight committee approves the means by which the funds were applied and confirms that they were utilized in accordance with the purpose they were intended.

I agree with all this except the jail time. A little extreme. No?? I don’t think trying to helps ones district constitutes jail time. Yes lets keep oversight on them but the last thing I want to do is pay more taxes to house another inmate of this caliper.

I am not defending pork but some does help people. What was mentioned in the article was not as bad as the bridge to nowhere in Alaska. Also it is this kind of funding that does help get some schools build and can help on things like the Los Osos Sewer Project.

Oversight yes. Jail no.

I was talking about people who cheat the system, not the people (our elected officials) who lobby for it in an honest effort to support their districts.

O.k. That makes better sence. Thanks.