I can't even be sarcastically witty about this one. It's our PUBLIC government, and earmarks, period, have no place.
No, no, don't get me wrong. It is not that I didn't know this shite happens all the time. It's just that having such a decision thrown in our faces like this, as though the Democrats are doing a GOOD THING, is ludicrous. It is criminal that either party ever endorsed or engaged in the practice in the first place. (ie. See paragraph 2.)
House Leaders Bar Earmarks to For-Profit Companies
WASHINGTON — House Democratic leaders said on Wednesday that they would no longer dole out budget “earmarks” to profit-making companies, wiping out one of the most lucrative and controversial means of awarding no-bid contracts to private firms.
The ban is the most aggressive step yet in a three-year effort in Congress to curb abuses in the awarding of earmarks, which direct that federal money be spent in a very specific way. The move follows criminal investigations, ethics inquiries and political embarassment linked to the use of earmarks.
If the ban had been in effect last year, it would have blocked some 1,000 earmarks, many of them for military contractors that received multi-million-dollar contracts, leaders of the House Appropriations Committee said in announcing the decision.
The move came less than two weeks after the House ethics committee cleared seven members of a defense appropriations subcommittee of allegations growing out of their awarding of earmarks to political contributors.
The earlier decision to clear the lawmakers drew sharp criticism from government watchdog groups, who said it would open the door to further abuse. The ban announced Wednesday appeared to be an effort by House Democrats to regain the high ground after a series of allegations against their own members. Republican leaders are considering how and whether to follow suit.
Since retaking control of Congress in 2007, the Democrats have taken a series of steps, including disclosing publicly which lawmakers requested each earmark, in an attempt to eliminate abuses. While outside critics of the earmark process have dismissed some of those steps as cosmetic, the ban on earmarks for profit-making companies announced on Wednesday drew quick praise.
“I think it’s a pretty big deal,” Scott Lilly, a senior fellow at the Center for American Progress, the liberal research group, said in an interview.
“That was always the most questionable and problematic aspect of the whole process,” he said, referring to the practice of directing awards to private contractors. Earmarks for universities, research organizations and other non-profit groups would still be allowed under the new restrictions.
Stephen Ellis, vice president of Taxpayers for Common Sense, a a budget watchdog group that has also been critical of the earmark process, said that “for-profit earmarks are ground zero for pay-to-play, and it makes sense to rein them in.” But he added that the Senate leadership would have to adopt its own similar ban for the restrictions to be effective.
Senator Daniel Inouye, the Hawaii Democrat who leads the Senate Appropriations Committee, showed little inclination to follow the House’s lead. Mr. Inouye said that current restrictions on earmarks, including the disclosure requirements, “have erased the impropriety” of past years.
He said that it did not make sense to discriminate against profit-making organizations. “I am not sure why we should treat for-profit earmarks any differently than nonprofit earmarks,” Mr. Inouye said.