Arizona Congressman Jeff Flake says that earmarks for pork barrel projects hidden in conference reports on spending bills are the “currency of corruption” in Congress.
It is not just the rising number of earmarks (more than 15,000 last year â€” up from around 1,200 a decade ago), or the dollar amount ($27 billion) that is troubling. More disturbing is that earmarks are used as inducements to get members to sign on to large spending measures. (The disgraced lobbyist Jack Abramoff was astute when he referred to the House Appropriations Committee as an “earmark favor factory.”)
It is no coincidence that the growth of earmarks has paralleled the monstrous increase in overall federal spending. And President Bush’s new $2.77 trillion budget will only set off another frenzy.
The whole backscratching practice is essentially nothing more than Congressmen from both parties using taxpayer funds to bribe each other to vote for further misuse of taxpayer funds. Flake invokes the name of Jack Abramoff in his piece, apparently thinking that linking the “disgraced lobbyist” to the practice will illustrate its corruption, but frankly, at least Abramoff used his own and his clients money for their “quid pro quos”. Earmarking Congressmen use money stolen from the nation’s Treasury to bribe each other and that has a stench that makes Abramoff smell like a rose by comparison.