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.
|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*|
* 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