The facts about earmarks -- and the deficit, for that matter -- are so simple that even the dumbest birther should be able to understand.
On Thursday, the House of Representatives approved a massive spending bill, totaling $447 billion, which includes quite a few earmarks. In fact, 5,224 earmarks made their way into the bill, adding up to about $3.9 billion. This did not please House Republicans, of whom not a single member voted for the measure.
Nearly a quarter of the members of the House of Representatives find themselves embroiled in a lobbying scandal, with Rep. John Murtha at the center. One hundred four representatives earmarked more than $300 million in just one bill, allegedly in exchange for campaign contributions from a lobbying firm founded by a former Murtha protégé.
Welcome to the People's Republic of Alaska, where every resident this year will get a $3,200 payout, thanks in no small measure to the efforts of Sarah Palin, the state's Republican governor.
Pork, as in earmarks, not as in pig, is again in vogue this political season only a year after a 2007 congressional promise to curb what some call wasteful spending in politicians' home districts. At the top of the earmarking ladder is the defense authorization bill (read military-industrial complex), which saw a 29 percent increase in district spending since 2007.
All three presidential candidates are scheduled to be back in Washington, D.C., on Thursday. A Republican senator has proposed a yearlong ban on earmarks and, shocking though it may seem, John McCain, Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton are apparently on board with the idea. Their colleagues in the Senate, however, are somewhat less enthusiastic.
McClatchy is reporting that Congressman Don Young, R-Alaska, is under investigation for earmarking millions in funds for a road project in Florida that wasn't even wanted by the local community but could have been something of a gold mine for one of his campaign contributors. The Justice Department is also investigating potentially unsavory behavior on the part of Republican Sen. Ted Stevens and other Alaska legislators.