Earmarks Don't Add Up

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Earmarks
seem to be the hot topic this week, and as a fiscal conservative
I am dismayed so many people deliberately distort the earmarking
process and grandstand to make political points. It is an easy thing
to do with earmarks. It takes a little more time and patience to
grasp the reality of what earmarks really are.

To be sure,
if earmarks were the driving force behind explosive government spending
as some have been led to believe, that would be a good reason for
all the fuss. The misconception seems to be that members of Congress
put together a bunch of requests for project funding, add them all
together and come up with a budget. The truth is, it is not done
that way. The total level of spending is determined by the Congressional
leadership and the appropriators before any Member has a chance
to offer any amendments. Members’ requests are simply recommendations
to allocate parts of that spending for certain items in that members’
district or state. If funds are not designated, they revert to non-designated
spending controlled by bureaucrats in the executive branch. In other
words, when a designation request makes it into the budget, it subtracts
funds out of what is available to the executive branch and bureaucrats
in various departments, and targets it for projects that the people
and their representatives request in their districts. If a congressman
does not submit funding requests for his district the money is simply
spent elsewhere. To eliminate all earmarks would be to further consolidate
power in the already dominant executive branch and not save a penny.

Furthermore,
designating how money is spent provides a level of transparency
and accountability over taxpayer dollars that we don’t have
with general funds. I argue that all spending should be decided
by Congress so that we at least know where the money goes. This
has been a major problem with TARP funding. The public and Congress
are now trying to find out where all that money went.

The real issue
is that the overall budget is too big, by far, which is why I always
vote against it. But attacking the 1 percent that was earmarked
solves nothing. The whole issue is a distraction from the real problems
we face, which are that the Federal Government will absorb over
1/3 of our country’s GDP this year and taxpayers are forced
to fork over more than half their income to fund government at all
levels. On top of that, the national debt is $11 trillion, which
is $36,000 per citizen. The recent increases in bailouts, government
spending and money creation is going to hobble our economy for decades.
We must curb the government’s appetite severely if this country
is ever to thrive again. The noise over “earmarks” is
a red herring and a distraction from the real issue of uncommitted
spending.

It is time
to attack the entirety of government spending. We especially need
a full account of the activities of the Federal Reserve that spends
and creates trillions of dollars with no meaningful oversight. This
is a huge problem that needs immediate attention.

See
the Ron Paul File

March
17, 2009

Dr. Ron
Paul is a Republican member of Congress from Texas.

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Paul Archives

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