posted on Jan, 29 2008 @ 03:33 PM
It just gets worse and worse...It must be nice to just be able to play with all the suffering, tax-paying peon's money with no
The Times found:
People who benefit from earmarks generally give money to those who deliver them: Of the nearly 500 companies identified as getting 2007 defense
earmarks, 78 percent had employees or political action committees who made campaign contributions to Congress in the past six years.
Though individual contributions are limited by law, people at companies that received defense earmarks gave lawmakers more than $47 million.
The 2,700 earmarks Congress put in the 2007 military spending bill cost $11.8 billion. The Pentagon didn't ask for the money in its budget and,
because its budget is capped by law, cuts had to be made to find room for the favors.
Nearly all members of Congress dole out earmarks. Rep. Jeff Flake of Arizona, an earmark critic, calls the practice "circular fundraising" because
of the perception that tax dollars given out as favors come back as campaign donations. "I think that most taxpayers would say that it doesn't pass
the smell test," he said.
Winslow Wheeler, formerly a congressional aide who dealt with defense earmarks for years, said no one in Congress asks for campaign donations in
exchange for earmarks because they don't have to; everyone understands the process.
"It's not talked about," but if favors are not followed with donations, Wheeler said, "it's noticed — you may get a little bit less help the
Murray, Dicks and Baird say emphatically that their favors to defense contractors never come with strings attached. The distinction is critical
because soliciting a campaign contribution in exchange for an earmark is a crime.
"People, if they want to support me, they support me," Dicks said. "If they don't want to support me, I still might do their earmark — if I
thought it was a worthy project."
Earmarking has exploded in the past decade, quintupling from 1996 to 2005, according to the Congressional Research Service.
During "The Season," the first three months each year on Capitol Hill, thousands of favor seekers flood the offices of Congress, asking for
earmarks. Appointments stack one on top of the other, tying up staffers for months, as lawmakers winnow through the myriad requests and decide what to
Jack Abramoff, the once-powerful lobbyist convicted of influence peddling, called the process "the favor factory."
Rep. Jim McDermott, D-Seattle, who sponsors some earmarks, says that lawmakers find it easier to raise money from people they know from committee
work. "I think it's very hard [for the public] not to have the impression that in some way what you do on the committee is some way related to how
much money you get."
Officially, the Pentagon opposes earmarks because they circumvent its own efforts to set spending priorities, thoroughly evaluate products and seek
Some military officials, however, eagerly support earmarks that expand their programs. Gerald Darsch, who heads food research at Natick Soldier
Systems Center, backed Murray when she set aside money to develop longer-lasting tomatoes and rations, a move that substantially increased his
A senior Army official who fulfills Congress' earmarks said he first learns of them when the defense bill passes. He spoke only if his name was not
Often, he said he can't figure them out from the cryptic descriptions in the bill.
"If there's a new mark out there for something we've never seen before, [we go] back to the subcommittee and say, 'Hey, you put an earmark on this
line for this amount of dollars. What the hell is it?' Because some of this stuff — hell, I've been in the Army for 20 years, and I don't know
what some of that stuff is."