The Washington Post — surprisingly — has put together a great investigative piece on yet another piece of congressional monkey business. They’ve found 33 Members of Congress who pushed through budget earmarks for projects adjacent to property owned by said Members. Earmarks are funds for specific one-time projects that typically benefit one community AND one community only.
The Post found one Member who won federal funding for bike paths within walking distance of his house. Another Member won federal funding for the construction of a big, beautiful new office building — right across the street from commercial property owned by that same member. Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid also got caught earmarking for their own benefit.
(One flaw in The Post’s piece — geography. Their graphic has California congressman Jerry Lewis on the east coast, somewhere near Maryland.)
The only member of North Carolina’s delegation who got caught was Congressman G.K. Butterfield (D). Unfortunately, his majority-black district is so safely Democrat that he could take a poop on the House floor and STILL win reelection in a landslide. (No one from South Carolina was nailed by The Post.)
Senator Burr defended his vote against a congressional insider trading ban by saying that there were already plenty of good laws on the books. Congress, he said, does a good job of policing itself.
Earmarks are little more than vote-buying with taxpayer money. Projects that only benefit a specific community need to be funded by state and local funds appropriated by state and local leaders.
Congressional sessions are too long. Committees have their hands in too many things. Current technology can allow Congress to conduct quite a bit of its business remotely — from outside DC. Cut the schedule, cut their sphere of influence back to what is specifically mentioned in the Constitution, and cut the salaries of staff and members. Take serving in Congress away from the ethically-challenged get-rich-quick, jackpot-scoring career opportunity it currently is BACK to the temporary, part-time community service Our Founders meant it to be.