Pork Barrel Politics

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    Jun 10, 2008 4:33 PM GMT
    What are your views on political earmarking? Almost all politicians earmark, including Hillary and Obama. While Obama has suggested and given transparency to his earmarking history, it is still a practice he partakes in. There are only 6 senators who claim that they do not participate in earmarking, and McCain is vehemently against them as well.

    What's your stance?
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    Jun 10, 2008 4:48 PM GMT
    I'm with Senator McCain, especially on this issue.

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    Jun 10, 2008 5:03 PM GMT
    Well, most Americans might tell you they're against earmarks and pork barrel spending...until it comes to the projects that are part of their state/city/town/business/enterprise. Further proof that politics is personal. I don't think Alaska and Ted Stevens needed that bridge to nowhere...but I'd sure like to see Voinovich come through for that I71/75 bridge replacement in downtown Cincinnati.
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    Jun 10, 2008 5:04 PM GMT
    I'm sure that all politicians have done it or are ready to do it once the opportunity arises. I'd like to be able to take their word for it and believe them when the point the finger in the direction and say crook, but in all honesty they're as faliable as any of us, with more power and money to be spent. If any one's going to doing any earmarking, it's a politician, any politician.

    I don't care if six or sixty of them claim to be saints on the issue. They're capable and responsible for many other moral injustices. I'm certain Hilary, Obama, Bush and McCain have all screwed their home states and our country in ways that they've managed to get some of us to agree with blindly.

    If you haven't noticed, I seriously distrust politicians and all they say. If want to read tall tales and find false hopes, I'll read children's fairy tales. I'm not going to find too much warmth in any modern politician embrace and their words will only lead to further let us all down.
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    Jun 10, 2008 6:23 PM GMT
    I think that politics is personal as well, which is why we need regulations on policies like earmarking. This tactic has increased by almost 10 fold since the 90's. And there have been numerous connections to lobbyist parties and Senators and the earmarks they request when passing a bill.

    For someone like Obama, who has turned down the support of lobbyists and refuses to give in to that part of politics (which I think is a great thing), it seems like he would try and stay clear of earmarking because of the potential damage it could do to his campaign. I feel there is a bit of a double standard here. Maybe I just don't know as much as a should, but the whole process of earmarking raises a red flag for me.

    I mean, essentially you could propose a bill to give troops more armor or supplies, a bill you know would most likely pass, and then staple on funds for a couple of profitable cheese museums in Vermont because the Vermont cheese corporation has given you financial support as a Senator. And you know the president can't do anything about it because he does not have line-item veto power. So the president knows that he has to pass the bill or people will accuse him of not caring about our troops, when in reality, the $5 million alloted for these stupid cheese museums could be used to support more important priorities.

    I know there are probably some good things that come from earmarking, but it seems like it's a power that is more often abused than actually used for the betterment of the country.
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    Jun 10, 2008 10:00 PM GMT
    This is another invented issue, designed to distract people from the real issues.

    Truth: Politics is about self-interest, meaning they are there to represent their constituents. Whoever said that a senator from, say, Ohio is supposed to care about the people of Wyoming? He may, of course, but that's not what he was elected for.

    What some people call "pork" (generally when speaking of projects in someone else's district), other people call "excellent constituent service". Like term limits, this is about people trying to deny OTHER people the benefits of government.

    If the earmark is egregious, then let it be voted down. But who is to say what's egregious, besides the "bridge to nowhere"? McCain's ads refer to studies of bear DNA, supposedly to provoke people into derisive laughter. But who's to say what useful result may come from research on bear DNA? The whole point of science is that the investigation is what leads to discovery, NOT knowing where you're going before you begin.

    I do get sick of all this fashionable cynicism.
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    Jun 11, 2008 4:06 AM GMT
    I personally don't think it's "fashionable cynicism" to think that State dollars should be spent on local recreation centers and not Federal dollars. I mean wouldn't this money be better spent on bringing the US school system up to par? Or maybe using it to pay off some of our national debt? Or better yet, what about focusing it on crumbling programs like Medicare, Medicaid or Social Security?

    I think it just further creates a vacuum in which are dollars are being spent unwisely.
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    Jun 11, 2008 11:35 AM GMT
    Rhythm1438 saidI personally don't think it's "fashionable cynicism" to think that State dollars should be spent on local recreation centers and not Federal dollars.


    This creates a meaningless distinction. State dollars? Federal dollars? The point is, some things ARE worth funding, some are not. And since you pay state taxes as well as federal taxes, the bottom line is that it's going to come out of your pocket one way or another. But no one rails against a state spending money on projects---because it's fashionable to bash the federal government. Or at least it has been since the Reagan era.

    That's the "fashionable cynicism" I'm talking about. Anyone who makes this distinction may not realize it, but he is reacting to THREE DECADES of Republican propaganda about how the federal government is bloated and evil. And it's a crock.
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    Jun 11, 2008 12:00 PM GMT
    Political Pictures - Realty Signs
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    Jun 11, 2008 12:17 PM GMT
    Rhythm1438 saidI personally don't think it's "fashionable cynicism" to think that State dollars should be spent on local recreation centers and not Federal dollars. I mean wouldn't this money be better spent on bringing the US school system up to par? Or maybe using it to pay off some of our national debt? Or better yet, what about focusing it on crumbling programs like Medicare, Medicaid or Social Security?

    I think it just further creates a vacuum in which are dollars are being spent unwisely.


    Funding for many (if not most)projects is provided by a combination of the state and the feds. Going through the respective agencies the states have to come up with their end of the funding before the federal dollars will be released and work begin. Sometimes a state can't come up with all the cash for a particular vital project to qualify (or no specific program exists) and in those cases I think federal earmarks are appropriate. They should definitely be held to stricter standards though when being added to unrelated legislation.

    All in all I believe there is something like $12B in earmarks in the 2008 budget that could be defined as pork. In the grand scheme of our nearly 3 trillion dollar federal budget it really isn't all that much. I think more time should be spent stemming the substantial financial bleeding from other areas of government.
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    Jun 11, 2008 12:57 PM GMT
    If I was an American I would be furious at the number of earmarks in the budget. Especially since you are fighting a war and running a large budget deficit.

    My favourite is the so-called "bridge to nowhere" in Alaska that cost $200 million? Something like that.

    I am socially progressive but fiscally conservative. Government should only spend taxpayers money on programs that are essential to the well-being of its' citizens, cut the fat and the fluff! icon_mad.gif
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    Jun 17, 2008 6:28 PM GMT
    The President should get a line item veto, that would put an end to this crap.