In the NYT:
So much for trimming the pork.
The practice of decorating legislation with billions of dollars in pet projects and federal contracts is still thriving on Capitol Hill — despite public outrage that helped flip control of Congress two years ago.
Anti-pork watchdogs, for example, point to the $1.8 million in five earmarks for Chicago’s Shedd Aquarium, which ran $8 million in the black last year and has embarked on a four-year, $100 million fundraising campaign. With that kind of money, why should taxpayers fund a $400,000 program earmarked by Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama to help the aquarium conduct a program aimed at preventing juvenile delinquency, watchdog groups ask.
Examples abound of lawmakers winning earmarks for specific companies or institutions, and then receiving campaign contributions from the recipients or their lobbyists.
”Hiring a lobbyist to try to get you an earmark is a pretty good investment, because you can get a 10-, 20-, 30-fold return without frankly all that much work,” said Anthony Nownes, a political scientist at the University of Tennessee in Knoxville. ”It’s a such a win-win situation for everybody. The legislator gets to tell his or her constituent that he or she quite literally brought home the bacon, the lobbyist gets to tell his or her client that they did the same thing, and the constituents get all the goodies.”
Also noteworthy: a search for earmarks requested by Sen. Bob Corker reveals nothing. 0 earmarks. So, does this mean Corker was telling the truth when he claimed to believe earmarks contribute to out-of-control government spending? He really meant what he said?
Can that actually happen in politics?