By: Wayne Brown
There is a new buzz-word in America and, though it has been around a while now, it is causing quite a stir in both the Halls of Congress and in the national media. That word is “earmarks” as defined by the taxpayer money set aside for by Congressional approval for spending on a local project, structure, site, etc. Earmarking is undoubtedly a label that our elected officials in both the Senate and House cooked up to avoid using the more familiar term, “port-barreling” which has been around since the beginning of time.
The sheer function of earmarking defies rationale. In and of itself, it is truly of a socialist nature and totally characteristic of the redistribution of wealth which so many are in favor of in this country. In this case, both sides of the aisle are guilty of it so it cannot be labeled as a function of liberal or conservative leanings. It is most certainly favored because it goes a long way toward buying votes for the sitting elected official when election time comes and he reminds them who got the money for the new library for their town. From that standpoint, it fits the manipulative personality of all politicians since the first one took office.
Let me see if I have this right. We take money from the Federal Government coffers collected from the taxpayers across the nation and distribute it back down to some local level for spending. In the first place, if there is money available for that sort of thing, then why does the Federal Government have it? Why did it not remain in the pockets of the taxpayer. When the taxes were collected, no one knew of this project or accounted for it in the tax bill. But once there were funds, the ideas begin to spring forth. No doubt, this is the government taking tax dollars from a large group and allowing a smaller group to benefit from it. In no uncertain terms, it is redistribution of wealth.
I seem to remember that America is currently in debt up to its ears and that deficit grows a bit larger each day. Our continual spending whims are in more cases than not financed with loans from the Chinese with the promise of interest to be charged. If that is the case, then the money is not there for the requested earmark spending. It is money that has to be borrowed in order to fulfill the request. So, I have to ask the obvious question, why would we, as Americans with any common sense, do that?
In the present Omnibus Spending bill there are requests to allocate $10 million dollars to erect a center for a Congressman whom I have never heard up until I heard the report on the news. There is another request to allocate $8 million dollars to erect a memorial to Ted Kennedy in his home state of Massachusetts. Now, both of these men may have made their mark and served their constituents well, but let’s get real here folks. If the good folks of Massachusetts want a memorial for Mr. Kennedy, I say they need to pass the hat around inside the state lines and collect it from the folks that benefited from his efforts the most. After all, these were the people who kept electing him to office. Surely they can dig into their pockets for such a good cause rather than expecting the American taxpayer to foot the bill.
Money taken in by the Federal Government in the form of taxes should go first and foremost for those functions and items which benefit us all as a nation. The first one that comes to mind is our military. Maybe if we gave up earmarking, we could afford to pay these people more for the sacrifices they make each day serving in remote sites and in come cases risking their lives to defend our way of life. I say there is not a paycheck large enough to cover that contribution on their part. Secondly is our national infrastructure of interstate highways, bridges, and railways. Our national economy depends greatly on this system to function and do so efficiently. Thirdly, we have to cover the expenses of government which span a very broad spectrum as we reach out around the world. Finally, we must support our justice system with facilities equipped to handle the number and types of criminals encountered in our society. Beyond that scope, on the federal level, the rest is a pipe dream and that dream gets bigger every time another earmark request goes up.
In the original intent of our Union, we find that there was great favor toward a strong State system with the federal government simply acting as a projection of the Union of those states. Over the years, the federal government has found more and more ways to complicate the tax structure and found more and more things to tax. In doing so, the Federal government has pushed the state and local entities to the far end of the slop trough. Money is power and once the feds have that money collected from the taxpayer in hand, it becomes the negotiating chip with which states can be convinced to go along with federal programs. It is all bundled up in a nice little bribe called “Federal Aid Assistance”. It is a dirty little game designed to put all the power of this country in Washington and enslave the taxpayer to the whims of those holding national office.
By eliminating earmarking, we can reduce our spending as a country. When it comes to spending money that we don’t have, I think it makes great common sense to start reducing that spending by eliminating the earmarks all together. Unless the government is operating with surplus cash reserves, there is no basis upon which any elected official can and should receive earmark funds. As long as earmarking continues in Washington, the federal government will never be able to bring spending under control. As it is at the present, our elected officials seem to have given up the budget process and just keep signing checks as the requests come in. No household can stay afloat living in that manner and certainly no nation can do so either.
Some who serve in Washington claim that earmarking has been around since the beginning of this nation. There is some evidence that there have been attempts over time to use taxpayer funds for local purposes. One such example was a request made by Representative John C. Calhoun (democrat, SC) who proposed to use funds to connect roads from the western portion of America to the roads of South Carolina. His rationale was that all Americans would benefit. The bill was submitted, voted on and sent to President James Madison for his signature. Madison vetoed the bill and made the following statement as his rationale for doing so.
“Such a view of the Constitution would have the effect of giving to Congress a general power of legislation instead of the defined and limited one hitherto understood to belong to them, the terms 'common defense and general welfare' embracing every object and act within the purview of a legislative trust.”
It would seem that President Madison’s point is rather ageless in its relevance when we look at earmark spending today. The emphasis as defined by the Constitution is on “common defense and general welfare” as the basis for all federal spending of taxpayer dollars. In that sense, much of what we see thrown about in terms of federal spending today could easily be construed as “unconstitutional”. That rationale alone should be enough of a basis to stop earmark spending in its tracks.
The message sent by the majority of the voters in November 2010 was simple and clear. “We don’t like the way you are spending our money and burying us and our future generations in debt. Stop it and stop it now!” That is clearly the message and not a very hard one to comprehend and understand. In truth, the elected officials in Washington don’t want to hear that message for they like spending money. Money is power and they all love power. It is the reason they are there. The taxpayers of America will have to continue confirming this message again and again. The taxpayers of America must stay on point and on message and be ready to go back to the polls and make changes until we get a crowd in Washington who understands that it is past time to stop the frivolous spending habits which have been in place for far too long.
God Bless America!
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