earmarks - or "pork"

You won't find a standard Webster's definition of "earmark" but, as many a lawmaker will say, you know one when you see one. Earmarks - loosely speaking - are pet projects that get inserted into larger bills by lawmakers who either want to bring home the bacon to their district or throw a bone to a special campaign supporter.

While fiscal conservatives and good government types may not always agree on how to prioritize spending, both agree that "earmarks" are a no-go. Fiscal conservatives will simply say earmarks are an unnecessary burden on taxpayers - and an inefficient one at that. Good government advocates will add on they have corrupting influence - by making lawmakers chase earmarks in exchange for campaign contributions.

Congress passed a bill in '07 to shed more light on - and hopefully diminish - the number of earmarks out there. Early results suggest the new law might have had an effect - although earmarks are hardly history.

Earmark estimates

budget year according to CAGW according to TCS
# of earmarks $ of earmarks # of earmarks $ of earmarks
2008 11,043  $14.1 billion 11,144* $15.3 billion*
2007** 2,658 $13.2 billion    
2006 9,963 $29 billion    
2005 13,997 $27.3 billion    

* early estimates, ** in 2007, because a full budget wasn't passed, most spending bills ended up in a "continuing resolution" that kept out any new earmarks


I think that although earmarks get bills passed, they are extra cash that is being pulled out of the americans pocket

a random Joe (not verified) | October 7, 2008 - 9:41am