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Congress NOCLIPs past Earmark Ban

FyreWulffFyreWulff Registered User, ClubPA regular
edited May 2011 in Debate and/or Discourse
I totally didn't see this coming at all.

http://www.cnn.com/2011/POLITICS/05/28/mysterious.fund/index.html?hpt=T2
Washington (CNN) -- The defense bill that just passed the House of Representatives includes a back-door fund that lets individual members of Congress funnel millions of dollars into projects of their choosing.

This is happening despite a congressional ban on earmarks -- special, discretionary spending that has funded Congress' pet projects back home in years past, but now has fallen out of favor among budget-conscious deficit hawks.

So what, they borrowed only like 5$ right? Let's check over he-
Under the cloak of a mysteriously-named "Mission Force Enhancement Transfer Fund," Congress has been squirreling away money -- like $9 million for "future undersea capabilities development," $19 million for "Navy ship preliminary design and feasibility studies," and more than $30 million for a "corrosion prevention program."

Okay, that's kind of tame for earmarks. I bet it isn't too ba-
Politics: Loophole for earmarks?

Roughly $1 billion was quietly transferred from projects listed in the president's defense budget and placed into the "transfer fund." This fund, which wasn't in previous year's defense budgets (when earmarks were permitted), served as a piggy bank from which committee members were able to take money to cover the cost of programs introduced by their amendments.

And take they did.

More than $600 million went to a wide number of projects, many of which appear to directly benefit some congressional districts over others.

Okay you son of a bitches, you aren't even trying to hide this.
For example, that $9 million for "future undersea capabilities development" was requested by Rep. Joe Courtney, D-Connecticut, whose district happens to be home to General Dynamics Electric Boat, a major supplier of submarines and other technologies to the U.S. Navy.

And the $19 million for "Navy ship preliminary design and feasibility studies"? Rep. Steve Palazzo, R-Mississippi, asked for that. His district's largest employer is Ingalls Shipbuilding -- a major producer of surface combat ships for the Navy.

Nothing in these expenditures appears to be illegal, but critics say they still may violate the spirit, if not the language, of the earmark ban.

[...]

The $30 million Rep. Betty Sutton, D-Ohio, set aside for corrosion prevention could go far to help tackle the Defense Department's corrosion problem, estimated to cost the military more than $15 billion a year.

However, there are two things worth considering: Sutton's request comes on top of the $10 million already included in the bill for corrosion related programs, and Sutton's district is home to The University of Akron, which created the country's first bachelor's degree program for corrosive engineering in 2008.

Then, on May 9, two days before the defense bill mark-up, it was announced that the Defense Department had given the University of Akron $11 million to build its new "National Center for Education and Research in Corrosion and Materials Performance."

Yes. A University basically invented a engineering field so narrow that it would technically be classified as "plumber" and immediately got fed 21 million dollars from a pork happy Senate that can't even follow it's own fucking rules. And I bet none of them are counting this shit as part of the actual budget, much like how the cost of the Iraq war was hidden before.


This is like.. okay, you guys undid your previous ban. But now you aren't even bothering to get rid of your ban, you're just fucking ignoring it.


tl;dr 20 years from now, this entire damn country is going to be funded through Defense Budget(tm) loopholes at this rate.

FyreWulff on

Posts

  • South hostSouth host I obey without question Registered User regular
    edited May 2011
    My mom went to the University of Akron, so I find that part of it kind of hilarious.

    And really, it looks like all of these earmarks are Defense related. So honestly...not surprised that much.

    Hope is the first step on the road to disappointment.
  • FyreWulffFyreWulff Registered User, ClubPA regular
    edited May 2011
    While they are somewhat related, the submarine one is essentially giving a company a no-bid contract to make up submarine blueprints and sell them to the government after the government paid for them already. What should be happening is the military interally comes up with designs, and then companies bid on building them.

  • SliderSlider Registered User regular
    edited May 2011
    Thank you for the information, but I bet this is just the tip of the iceberg.

  • TaramoorTaramoor Registered User regular
    edited May 2011
    Earmarks are an important part of the budget, account for a very small percentage of it, and are generally good things (for the district of the congressperson that earmarks them).

    Ted Stevens getting $Alaska to build a bridge nobody needs or even wants is one thing, but tagging an extra $30 million to go to a college is not something I could really get pissed about.

    I guess what I'm saying is, the Republicans campaigned so hard on the "Earmarks = Bad" drum that they felt compelled to put something in the rules about them. Then they realized that was stupid, so they just went around it. Sort of the same way they ignore all their rules on requiring constitutionality be mentioned in a bill, or that no spending bill be passed without a cut somewhere else or a tax increase attached to it. (Which they've completely forgotten about by now).

    So... I'm not surprised.

  • SpoitSpoit *twitch twitch* Registered User regular
    edited May 2011
    South host wrote: »
    My mom went to the University of Akron, so I find that part of it kind of hilarious.

    And really, it looks like all of these earmarks are Defense related. So honestly...not surprised that much.

    Aren't most earmarks defense related? I mean, what else would they spend it on, infrastructure? :?

    camo_sig2.png
  • FyreWulffFyreWulff Registered User, ClubPA regular
    edited May 2011
    Taramoor wrote: »
    Earmarks are an important part of the budget, account for a very small percentage of it, and are generally good things (for the district of the congressperson that earmarks them).

    Ted Stevens getting $Alaska to build a bridge nobody needs or even wants is one thing, but tagging an extra $30 million to go to a college is not something I could really get pissed about.

    I guess what I'm saying is, the Republicans campaigned so hard on the "Earmarks = Bad" drum that they felt compelled to put something in the rules about them. Then they realized that was stupid, so they just went around it. Sort of the same way they ignore all their rules on requiring constitutionality be mentioned in a bill, or that no spending bill be passed without a cut somewhere else or a tax increase attached to it. (Which they've completely forgotten about by now).

    So... I'm not surprised.

    I think this is my main issue. If you guys want earmarks again, just unban them. Don't create even more complicated paper trails.

  • Captain CarrotCaptain Carrot P'burg, MTRegistered User regular
    edited May 2011
    Taramoor wrote: »
    Sort of the same way they ignore all their rules on requiring constitutionality be mentioned in a bill, or that no spending bill be passed without a cut somewhere else or a tax increase attached to it.
    You must be mistaken. All tax increases are unacceptable to Republicans on principle. IIRC, they said "Spending increases must be balanced by spending cuts, and spending cuts should be accompanied by tax cuts, but tax cuts are fine on their own.

    Spoiler:
  • South hostSouth host I obey without question Registered User regular
    edited May 2011
    Spoit wrote: »
    South host wrote: »
    My mom went to the University of Akron, so I find that part of it kind of hilarious.

    And really, it looks like all of these earmarks are Defense related. So honestly...not surprised that much.

    Aren't most earmarks defense related? I mean, what else would they spend it on, infrastructure? :?

    Haha, I wish. I don't even mind these that much, if at all. Corrosion is a huge spending issue for the Navy, and if by spending a couple dozen millions, they can possibly reduce that and keep our ships in better condition, awesome.

    What is annoying is that if they did spend it on infrastructure or education, people would find the single dumbest sounding proposal, and trot that out in front of the media. But if it's spent on military, no one mentions it.

    Hope is the first step on the road to disappointment.
  • Eat it You Nasty Pig.Eat it You Nasty Pig. tell homeland security 'we are the bomb'Registered User regular
    edited May 2011
    This was never, ever, ever going to wind up meaning anything. Ever.

    Lost in all the hysteria about "pork-barrel" earmarks is the fact that they actually serve a fairly important purpose, at least from a procedural standpoint. A particular representative saying "hey I want to be sure my district gets money for XYZ, and the amount is .000001% of the budget" is perfectly acceptable and not something it really makes sense for the senate to have to consider as an amendment. Even if we were to prevent senators from using earmarks to allocate funds, we'd wind up spending the same money on most of the same projects anyway, because most of them are completely normal and laudable.

    Is there potential for abuse? Sure, absolutely. I'm sure senators also sometimes pocket their per diem, but I'm not up in arms over it.

    edit: I mean, do we find it to be wrong that the federal government gave a university doing apparently leading research 11 million dollars to build a new facility for that purpose? Or do we just want the whole senate to have to consider (and filibuster, and table, and filibuster again) the Build a Corrosion Research Facility for Akron University Act?

    gkcmatch_zps97480250.jpg
    'we got hella people, they got helicopters'
  • GoslingGosling Looking Up Soccer In Mongolia Right Now, Probably Watertown, WIRegistered User regular
    edited May 2011
    You know, if they'd be as creative in actually solving the country's problems as they are in making sure they get theirs...

    ...at least the stuff they're going after doesn't look to be all that porky. That's a start.

    I have a blog. In the near future, I will also have a Kickstarter to get my club-soccer book up and running. I will let you know when I will start demanding all your money.
  • Eat it You Nasty Pig.Eat it You Nasty Pig. tell homeland security 'we are the bomb'Registered User regular
    edited May 2011
    Also this "must be accompanied by tax increases" is a laugh, since the government was already levying the taxes that fund these projects. It's just another way for conservative candidates to be able to say "my opponent voted to raise taxes 1,24,813,526 times."

    gkcmatch_zps97480250.jpg
    'we got hella people, they got helicopters'
  • AngelHedgieAngelHedgie Registered User regular
    edited May 2011
    FyreWulff wrote: »
    While they are somewhat related, the submarine one is essentially giving a company a no-bid contract to make up submarine blueprints and sell them to the government after the government paid for them already. What should be happening is the military interally comes up with designs, and then companies bid on building them.

    Except the military doesn't have the capability to come up with designs, nor does it really need to. What it is capable of figuring out is what specific items in its inventory should be doing, and what they need to be capable of to execute those roles. Then they send that information to a contractor with the actual skills to take those requirements and generate an actual design that meets them.

    Again, the problem with earmarks (unless you were an ideological goose *coughronpaulcough*) isn't their existence, but that they were abused. And the solution wasn't "BAN EARMARKS FOREVAR" but to crack down on abuses.

    XBL: Nox Aeternum / PSN: NoxAeternum / NN:NoxAeternum
    Spoiler:
  • TaramoorTaramoor Registered User regular
    edited May 2011
    Taramoor wrote: »
    Sort of the same way they ignore all their rules on requiring constitutionality be mentioned in a bill, or that no spending bill be passed without a cut somewhere else or a tax increase attached to it.
    You must be mistaken. All tax increases are unacceptable to Republicans on principle. IIRC, they said "Spending increases must be balanced by spending cuts, and spending cuts should be accompanied by tax cuts, but tax cuts are fine on their own.

    The idea was, I believe, that Republicans would always cut spending when they proposed more spending, but Democrats would have to raise taxes when they proposed more spending.

    This way they could continue to scream about Tax 'n Spend Democrats.

  • enlightenedbumenlightenedbum Ann Arbor, MichiganRegistered User regular
    edited May 2011
    Gasp! Oh wait, no.

    This is entirely predictable, was entirely predicted, and is not a big deal unless you think it's a big deal that Congresspeople are hypocrites when presented with the opportunity to create jobs in their district and get re-elected.

    Which was pretty obvious with say, the stimulus bill.

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