February 26th, 2009
01:08 PM ET

Earmarks a necessary evil?

Earmarks a necessary evil?

The $410 billion spending bill is filled with pork, including $1.8 million to research "swine odor and manure management." (PHOTO CREDIT: MICHAEL KAPPELER/AFP/GETTY IMAGES)

From CNN's Jack Cafferty:

The House of Representatives has passed a $410 billion spending bill - and it's been stuffed with pork by both parties.

The New York Times reports one watchdog group says the bill includes almost $8 billion for more than 85,000 pet projects. Among them:

– $1.7 million for a honey bee laboratory in Texas

– $1.5 million for work on grapes and grape products - including wine

– $1.8 million to research "swine odor and manure management" in Iowa...they could do the same research in Washington D.C.

-smaller ticket items include asparagus research in Washington State, wool research in Montana, Texas and Wyoming, rodent control in Hawaii... and on and on.

Democrats also earmarked about $40 million for the presidential libraries of Franklin Roosevelt, John F. Kennedy and Lyndon Johnson. The bill even includes earmarks requested by some lawmakers who are no longer in Congress.

Republicans pounced on the bill as wasteful, pointing out it comes just after the White House held that summit on fiscal responsibility. But Democrats say that 40% of the earmark spending went to projects requested by Republicans.

Democratic Congressman David Obey of Wisconsin defended earmarks, saying they were fully disclosed and a small part of the bill. He added that without them, "the White House and its anonymous bureaucrats" would control all spending.

House and Senate Democrats have already agreed on the bill - although Republican Senators could try to cut out some of the pork.

As for the White House, one official says "it's a big document. we are still reviewing it."

Interested to know which ones made it on air?

S. from Michigan writes:
It depends on what ends up being called an earmark and who calls it such. For the state or city getting the money, it is progress money or investment, for others it becomes pork or earmark, etc. For example, for Jindal, monitoring volcanoes is an earmark, but for Alaskans, monitoring hurricanes may be earmarks! So, should we stop both?

Kevin writes:
Earmarks can be wasteful, or incredibly valuable, just like any type of spending. Let's look at one of your examples: $1.7 million for honey bee research. This seems silly at first glance, however when you recall that there appears to be something wiping out the honey bee population, and that bees are necessary for crops like apples, peaches, soybeans, pears, pumpkins, cucumbers, cherries, raspberries, blackberries and strawberries, it quickly starts looking like maybe we should be pouring MORE money into this research.

Susan from Twin Falls, Idaho writes:
If earmarks are necessary, we better change the way we do business in all levels of politics. The time for responsible spending is way past due. Pet projects are taking food away from the hungry and jobs away from those who by no fault of their own have lost them.

Ed from Iowa writes:
Here in Iowa we're sure in need of some "swine odor and manure management" and I can tell you that for darn sure, since I live down wind of several hog farms. What you don't understand when you make fun of this is that it's a huge problem. Pigs are big business here, and their manure that could be used for fertilizer and bio-fuels instead just pollutes the air and the water. This is a smart investment that'll pay off in clean air, clean water, cheap food, and jobs.

BD from Boise, Idaho writes:
The 40% that the Republicans want are pure evil. The 60% that the Democrats want are absolutely necessary. Or is that the other way around? We're handing out so much money these days it is easy to forget which side of the aisle you're on.

And, we love to know where you’re writing from, so please include your city and state with your comment.

Filed under: US Congress
soundoff (116 Responses)
  1. Don (Ottawa)

    Not all earmarks have to be evil. It depends on what they are. It is a way to get money to states for projects that are not on the national agenda. What's evil is that there does not appear to be any oversite on what is slipped into a bill.

    February 26, 2009 at 1:14 pm |
  2. JD in NH

    Earmarks are not created equal. If a lawmaker wants funding for a homeless shelter, for example, that's a good thing. If a lawmaker wants money to funnel to his brother-in-law's jackknife museum, that's a bad thing. We need to be smarter than to fall for the "all earmarks are bad" mantra.

    February 26, 2009 at 1:22 pm |
  3. Jackie in Dallas

    Earmarks are in the eye of the beholder, Jack. What looks like an earmark to one person may look like a critical need to another.

    Like Jindal's incorrect assumption that volcano observation is an earmark...you wouldn't hear him say that about Hurricane Tracking or levee rebuilding! So to him volcano observation is an earmark, to the Governor of Washington state, Oregon, and Alaska, volcano observation is a critical need to keep the people of their state safe.

    There will always be programs in our national budget that others do not understand the significance of, and will therefore think are earmarks.

    February 26, 2009 at 1:22 pm |
  4. Jenna Wade

    Are earmarks a necessary evil or just plain evil?


    They should just stand alone and not be included or hidden in large spending bills.

    If thet cannot make it on their own merit then they shouldn't be funded.

    Roseville CA

    February 26, 2009 at 1:24 pm |
  5. Jim/NC

    Just plain dishonest and evil. Politicians shouldn't be playing with taxpayers money simply to increase their own perceivable net worth to their districts.

    February 26, 2009 at 1:26 pm |
  6. Rod from Allentown PA

    Only to the politicians. For the rest of us, it is just more wasteful spending and favorisim.

    February 26, 2009 at 1:30 pm |
  7. Philip from Toronto

    We have these omnibus bills in Canada since the beginning of time. They stink! Politicians love them because they get to take credit for the good things while defending the bad saying they never approved of them "but" they were part of the bill...........win-win for the politicians
    If it is worth doing, it is worth being voted on separately ...Line item voting is possible and clearly shows informed consent.
    Enough with the "smoke and mirrors" already.

    February 26, 2009 at 1:33 pm |
  8. Tony from Torrington

    Jack, that's easy. When a Republican adds an earmark to a bill, it's evil. When a liberal Democrat adds an earmark to a bill, it's their right. And as Chucky Schumer says, "Americans don't care ." That just goes to show you how DIS -CONNECTED the old Chucky boy is.

    February 26, 2009 at 1:34 pm |
  9. me46

    An earmark is like giving the combination of the safe to everyone who works in the bank..

    February 26, 2009 at 1:38 pm |
  10. Jim


    If earmarks are a necessary evil, then so is a line item veto for the President. I trust Obama to make such decisions a whole lot more than a bunch of self-serving legislators.

    Reno, Nevada

    February 26, 2009 at 1:39 pm |

    The idea of earmarks is not inherently evil. Allow congressmen and seantors to fund some worthy project that would not be funded otherwise. Unfortunately, the immense sums of money needed to run for office make earmarks a perfect vehicle for returning favors. Like lobbyists, earmarks are noble in theory, but a corrupting influence in practice.

    February 26, 2009 at 1:42 pm |
  12. Axl in Iowa

    Perhaps we all change our exemptions to 5 on our W-2's. Let them eat cake.

    February 26, 2009 at 1:52 pm |
  13. Joe in DE

    Eamarks are an easy way to get projects approved. Most project going that way would never make it to a vote. About half are worth while and the rest trash – whioch ones is amtter of oinon. Having said this, they should be discontinued.

    February 26, 2009 at 1:57 pm |
  14. Ed

    I imagine a den of thieves would use the earmark system.

    February 26, 2009 at 2:01 pm |
  15. Bill P Texas

    Unless these earmarks can provide pork for my table and and job to buy it with...............

    February 26, 2009 at 2:02 pm |
  16. Chuck from Gulf Shores, Alabama

    One man's pork are another man's job.

    February 26, 2009 at 2:03 pm |
  17. Chad Jarman--Los Angeles

    Earmarks help pay for elections. So unless you just want the wealthy elected to office, we must allow them.

    February 26, 2009 at 2:03 pm |
  18. Karl-Heinz

    Santa Monica

    just plain evil NO?? just plain wrong,
    is like taken the Money behind closed doors,like insider trade in my eyes criminal

    February 26, 2009 at 2:04 pm |
  19. Richard, Syracuse, NY

    Everyone complains about earmarks, until they are the ones receiving the earmarks. If these are open for inspection I see no reason why they are so bad. We pay our taxes and would like to see some of our money come back to our area.

    February 26, 2009 at 2:07 pm |
  20. WilliamTell


    Do we really need another PORK bill, I say no. Both parties have their hands greased on this waste of the American People's money. They are supose to protect and represent the American People, what I see is greed. President Obama needs to veto this bill and restructure it as a real jobs bill or do away with it all together.


    February 26, 2009 at 2:16 pm |
  21. Meg from Troy, Ohio

    I think that they're a necessary evil, although, I must admit, some of them are pretty stupid. I do agree with the one about grapes since I'm a wine drinker. Let's face it, both parties are going to put them in bills. So neither party should be crying "foul!"

    February 26, 2009 at 2:21 pm |
  22. lynnej from lattimore, nc

    In a way, yes. It is like you vote on my pork bill and I'll vote on your jobs bill. That is the only way that they know how to get things done, if you want to call it that.

    February 26, 2009 at 2:21 pm |
  23. Jackie in Dallas

    By the way, just adding up the programs and earmarks you mention, I come up with less than $50 MILLION out of a budget of $800 billion. Even the watchdog group came up with only $8 billion or 1%. Just how does that qualify as "STUFFED"????

    February 26, 2009 at 2:24 pm |
  24. Charlie in Belen, New Mexico

    Earmarks are a "necessary evil". The knee jerk reaction to "honey bee" research is that it is a waste. BUT, to those who know how necessary they are in agriculture, and aware of the fact that they are rapidly disapearing, research on honey bees is of vital importaince. I'm sure that the same can be said for many other "earmarks". Not all of them are "good", nor are all of them "bad".

    February 26, 2009 at 2:25 pm |
  25. John in Santa Barbara, CA

    How can Congress critilcize the banks for throwing lavish parties with taxpayer money, and they go out and stuff themselves with pork?

    February 26, 2009 at 2:30 pm |
  26. PETE IN NY

    Congress is composed of scum sucking bottom feeders! Am I ticked off -you bet.!

    These clowns are throwing away our money right on and left and then they lie to our faces and tell us that these are "investments". Obey has the gall to tell us that we're worng to be outraged. Meanwhile Murtha's friends are being raided by the FEDS and are under investigation for potentially illeagal contributions used to "buy earmark projects" from Murtha and other Congressmen. We're supposed to feel good that some crook is buying votes with our money.

    What chutzpah!

    February 26, 2009 at 2:32 pm |
  27. Joe in MO

    I'm particularly worried about the swine odor. We live just down the road from a huge hog farm.

    February 26, 2009 at 2:39 pm |
  28. HD in Phoenix, AZ

    No math required there. They are simply plain evil.

    HD in Arizona

    February 26, 2009 at 2:43 pm |
  29. Matthew, Cedar Rapids, IA

    Necessary evil. While critics will call it a pet project, they still put people to work, and better than infrastucture spending, it puts different people to work. If we had no pet projects, there might be nothing to put the engineers back to work that keep getting laid off. They wouldn't exactly be useful building roads.

    February 26, 2009 at 3:12 pm |
  30. Elizabeth in NC

    Some earmarks are necessary. For example, the little honey bee. Something is killing them off and if we don’t find out what it is and stop it we can forget about being the breadbasket of the world. Crops will not grow without pollination. Unfortunately these ‘earmarks’ are simple line items. If the American public were more educated we would be better to voice a logical opinion.

    February 26, 2009 at 3:14 pm |
  31. C. Martin-Wood, Alabama

    Not one jot or tittle belongs in the economic recovery package unless it directly benefits the economy and the citizens hard hit by this crisis. Earmarks NEVER belong in legislation of any kind - they are part of the problem, not the solution.

    February 26, 2009 at 3:18 pm |
  32. Ryan, Galesburg, IL

    Jack, these expenditures aren't evil; letting the honey bee population, a necessary pollinator, perish is evil. Funnelling taxpayer dollars to war profiteers is evil. And, alas, the oversimplification of complex issues is evil.

    February 26, 2009 at 3:18 pm |
  33. Rae from Indiana

    Some of these things are necessary, however I would like to see them sink or swim on their own if possible.

    February 26, 2009 at 3:27 pm |
  34. Jerry - Toronto

    When you have the extra money to spend, earmarks are fine for certain projects like education or needed repairs. The problem is that most is wasted on pet projects to get politicians re-elected. That Jack, is a pile of manure.

    February 26, 2009 at 3:36 pm |
  35. David Gerstenfeld Las Vegas

    Unfortunately, a politician's first responsibility ( to him/her self) is to be reelected, not what's good for the country.

    February 26, 2009 at 3:45 pm |
  36. Jeff in E. Lyme, CT

    Has anybody noticed that the Recovery Bill will cost about the same amount as the war we were lied into? And you know what? Nobody ever died from an earmark.

    February 26, 2009 at 3:47 pm |
  37. Michael Danziger

    How do you differentiate an earmark from a worthy effort for a community. Just because it is money going to a specific locality or business does not mean it is evil. The expected outcomes really need to be analyzed if the benefits exceed the proposed earmark. More jobs are a good thing today.

    February 26, 2009 at 3:56 pm |
  38. Brittany from Palm Beach, FL

    Whatever they are, they are inevitable.

    February 26, 2009 at 3:59 pm |
  39. Carl In SC

    Ear marks in good times could help some. Thses aren't good times, so I say cut the crap and only spend what we have too.

    February 26, 2009 at 4:03 pm |
  40. CJ in Atlanta

    Unfortunately, we don't have time to wait for Congress to fine tune the stimulus bill and debate every line item. A few, fortunate Congressmen slipped some stupid projects into the bill. Fortunately, the pork represents only a small percentage of the overall bill. I would rather get the bill into the works than wait months and months to sift out the garbage.

    February 26, 2009 at 4:07 pm |
  41. Ann,Virginia

    Jack,Earmarks are just plain evil like the greedy congress that includes them

    February 26, 2009 at 4:07 pm |
  42. luis

    Jack its needed to give the small people work.Remeber Joe Biden and his team are going to be watching over these projects.Jack did you know that if someone dosent figure out whats happening with the bee population quickly we can be looking at no pollunation of the fruits and vegies we love so much..manure management is needed to harness the energy from the decaying waste.And wine is known to be good 4 your health if its taken in moderation,its all good spending.Jack these same republicans who are complaing about this are the same ones who helped Dick Chaney win all the contracts to supply the troops in the wars they made those guys all rich off the blood of americansoliders jack .Also most of these republicans are neck deep in the health care systems like aetna bluecross and others they are a bunch of wenie winers who love big business and small gov but look whats happen, its their mess and we have to clean it up now...

    February 26, 2009 at 4:09 pm |
  43. KarenB, centralFlorida

    Money that someone slips into a bill (congressman, senator, whoever) for a favorite project, something that has their name stuck on it – not good, too much change of not being for the overall "good." smacks of favoritism. possible kickbacks. "pork" – wasted money. building bridges/highways to nowhere. studying DNA of various species instead of the money going to save our economy. If our economy and basic infrastructure no longer exists, no one is going to care about DNA of anything for a really long time.

    February 26, 2009 at 4:09 pm |
  44. Ann,Virginia

    President Obama said he would cut out earmarks,I hope he vetos this & any other bill which includes any earmarks.

    February 26, 2009 at 4:10 pm |
  45. Andre from San Francisco

    The new term for pork barrel spending is "pet projects"?

    February 26, 2009 at 4:10 pm |
  46. Jon

    Evil, plain and simple. Unfortunately we can not count of congress to do "the right thing" just like we can't trust the banks to do "the right thing." I do not believe in it is necessary.

    February 26, 2009 at 4:12 pm |
  47. Judy Mascolino

    Earmarks are not inherently evil, but given today's financial crisis in our country, they should not be part of our current budget.

    February 26, 2009 at 4:12 pm |
  48. Joe D

    Isn't that what we pay congress to do? Its not ok to just ok spending, they need to specify where it goes. I just wish congress cared less about their own reelection

    February 26, 2009 at 4:13 pm |
  49. Tony; Eugene, OR

    Representative democracy allows for the people of various districts to be heard. How is it that earmark spending is anything more than the government responding to a local problem? Earmarks are the best way to gauge effectiveness of government, they're not evil whatsoever, they're necissary.

    February 26, 2009 at 4:13 pm |
  50. Jim Shaw

    Send the beltway bull artists to Iowa. They will have the manure management problem solved in record time.

    February 26, 2009 at 4:13 pm |
  51. Clay

    Democrat or Republican if both complain about them then why do both put them in. The responsibility falls on both parties to create a pork free budget. Don't they understand the American people are tired of the blame game and just want them to do their jobs working together for the USA.

    February 26, 2009 at 4:13 pm |
  52. WildWeirdWillie

    That money to investigate pork odor sure makes a good sound byte, but like most sound bytes there's another side to the story.

    Pork production in the U.S. is increasingly concentrated into larger operations. A larger number of pigs means a larger amount of ... those things you don't want to think about when you're eating your chops.

    That turns into health and environmental issues for any number of small communities. Even if you believe the agribusiness lobbyists who deny that, you can dismiss their equally glib dismissal of the quality of life issues this raises by a visit to a neighbor of on of the factories, er, farms.

    February 26, 2009 at 4:15 pm |
  53. Ruthie from Charlotte NC

    Hi Jack,

    I'm not sure if all earmarks are evil but I feel I have a very important question I would like answered. I thought the federal government was supposed to enact laws that the states can't and provide security for the country. So my return question (for another day) is when did congress start having any say in building a museum in some state or some other non-federal issue?

    By the way I do think the current recovery plan was something that was a national requirement.

    Thanks Jack.

    Ruthie from Charlotte, NC

    February 26, 2009 at 4:15 pm |
  54. Johnnie T Martin

    There is nothing wrong with earmarks if they make sense for the people of that state. I want my senator and representatives to bring the bacon home. I resent when other states get a bridge to nowhere and my state can't get a bridge over real troubled water, like a river.
    Like Rep Obey said if the elected officials don't do it. The White House will give all or most to their friends and donors states.

    February 26, 2009 at 4:15 pm |

    If each senator and Represenative did not get ear marks the military would blow it in a foreign created war somewhere. YES TO EAR MARKS.

    February 26, 2009 at 4:16 pm |
  56. Linda in Maryland

    First, Jack, these are not earmarks or pet projects. There is a collapse of honey bees in this country that affects every area of food production and could be catastrophic. Wine production is a huge industry as is grape and grape production. And believe me, swine odor and manure management is a tremendously important food production and environmental issue. What we have here are idiots who know nothing identifying things as wasteful earmarks. Perhaps if we had better educated lawmakers, they wouldn't make these stupid and misguided statements. Be careful what you call a wasteful earmark.

    February 26, 2009 at 4:16 pm |
  57. George - Wayne, New Jersey

    Earmarks should stand on thier own. Every honest american takes care of mortgage, utilities, food and clothing neccesities first and then look for an icecream outing for the kids. Politicians should follow suit with our hard earned tax dollars.

    February 26, 2009 at 4:17 pm |
  58. Ray Timmermans

    This nonsense about "pork" is truly one of the most inane I've heard. I am amazed at how ridiculous the American people can be. They want programs and services in their congressional districts but don't want to pay for it. Makes me wonder ...when you pay nothing at the store how much do you get? So those people who complain about "pork" should either shut up about spending or stop using the services of the US government-let's see, start by mail delivery, repairs to roads, the roads themselves, 911 services, police and fire departments, the social security administration...etc.

    February 26, 2009 at 4:17 pm |
  59. Vasudha

    some spending like honeybee reseach ahs to be a must. If not done
    the whole world will be facing food crisis. The rest of world already is.

    February 26, 2009 at 4:17 pm |
  60. Archie McNeill

    All earmarks are personal gimme politics from members of both parties, desperate to do something for their constituents that might justify having been elected. A lot are payback promises, either to special interest groups or cronies. Regardless of who is in power, as soon as the pigs find the trough, the will eat and pig out whenever possible. Morals and ethics are, sadly, redundant words.

    February 26, 2009 at 4:17 pm |
  61. CandyK

    Earmarks are necessary. Think of it as a house sale. Seller is high, buyer is low and they meet somewhere in the middle.
    For the bee laboratory, the bees are disappearing WHY? Let's find out but not for years and years. I'm all for rodent control but what new study is there for wool and asparagus?
    For the grape projects, especially wine, I'll do for FREE! Being raised on a farm, I'll even do the “swine odor and manure management” – you cover it up and bathe like crazy after your done!

    February 26, 2009 at 4:18 pm |
  62. kalyn Salem Or

    They should have done a stim pack with-out ear marks and a separate plan to get the pork. At least then they could have not had that arguement in the whole thing.I think it was very selfish for those guys to force those into something we desperately needed because they knew begrudgingly it would go through.

    February 26, 2009 at 4:18 pm |
  63. John gary

    Hey Jack-was it you that wants the bees to disappear, live next to a hog farm, or, drink nasty wine? I didn't think so. Seems like "pork" is a great way to spot hypocrisy

    February 26, 2009 at 4:18 pm |
  64. BHoud

    Just plain evil: Now is not the time for obsessive and reckless spending. Priorities need to be made. Detailed plans need to be written to accomplish our govt's goals. Throwing our tax dollars away on every wishlist is not responsible spending.

    February 26, 2009 at 4:18 pm |
  65. T-MAC

    Whether or not an earmark is evil should not be the question, but rather the recipient has honest intentions. Innately, there is no evil in an earmark, but in mankind.

    February 26, 2009 at 4:19 pm |
  66. Jef

    While much of this spending seems frivolous, remember that many projects like rodent control in Hawaii will never find private funding. Asparagus research seems like a laughable line item and its merits should be debated, but without government support certain legitimate projects would never receive funding. The money has to come from somewhere.

    LA, California

    February 26, 2009 at 4:21 pm |
  67. Joseph Scordamaglia

    With all the talk of eliminating ear marks I cannot believe they are still around. Any congressmen or senator who proposes an ear mark should be kicked out of office. If I had it my way I would place them in jail for stealing taxpayer money. It is not only evil but it is a crime.

    February 26, 2009 at 4:23 pm |
  68. Duke (Florida)

    Ear marks are not necessary. Each line item should have the creators name next to it, then the media should have 1 hour with the creator to interview them and get their logic behind making it. Humiliation should stop most of these politicians from adding pet projects. The ones who still add ear marks will make for entertaining news (like Blago).

    February 26, 2009 at 4:25 pm |
  69. Ryan Scarola in Richmond, VA

    Yes, these programs – especially R & D – are useful, and in the grand scheme of things are really a drop in the bucket of the overall bill.

    The research projects will put people to work, and quite possibly open up new technologies that could put even MORE people to work.

    Isn't that the end-game the U.S. is looking for right now? A way to stimulate industry (and the sciences) with the goal of uncovering new types of jobs?

    I'm for it! They should be looked upon as a good thing – not absolutely necessary, but far from 'evil.'

    February 26, 2009 at 4:26 pm |
  70. Big Tony Alanta, Ga.

    Jack, I didn't say a word about all those $500 hammers purchased and those six figure salaries those soldiers received for fighting in Iraq. I mean, that is where all the money went, right.

    February 26, 2009 at 4:28 pm |
  71. Joseph Scordamaglia

    If the congressmen and senators believe so much in there ear marks let it come out of the personal office budgets or even better out of their own pockets. Maybe then the american people can get back some of the money stolen from us by then over the years. Unfortunately the the individuals in congress do not have to play by the rules the rest of have to. Now that is a crime..

    February 26, 2009 at 4:29 pm |
  72. Peter Fern Park, Fl.

    Earmarks are only evil if they're not for my state. It's the reverse of NIMBY (Not In My Back Yard), it's OIMBY (Only In My Back Yard).

    February 26, 2009 at 4:29 pm |
  73. Jay in Texas

    Earmarks, stimulus packages, bailouts, whatever you want to call them, are just more ways that crooked politicians have of repaying those who bought them the political offices they occupy. That is why you don't see much of this money going to the millions of people living way below the poverty line. Poor people don't make campaign contributions.
    Brownwood, Texas

    February 26, 2009 at 4:29 pm |
  74. Jazherah MacMornna

    Please stop calling money to help the honey industry "pork". Anyone whose head hasn't been in the sand knows that American honey bees have perished by the millions. Beekeepers have had to lay off their employees, can't pay their bills, etc. The honey you've bought in the past year is from Chile or China.
    Finding out what's killing the bees will restore hundreds of jobs.

    San Francisco

    February 26, 2009 at 4:30 pm |
  75. Steven

    There's more evil than necessity in this spending bill. It is utterly bloated with so many earmarks, we'd ask this blind pig if it were deaf. Like the new veep said of his running mate back during the campaign – he's being tested, and he's flunking big time in full view of the American people.
    I think the people should be given the chance to re-cast their vote. Knowing what this one has done so far, I think they'd vote the other way.

    Steven V
    Pensacola, FL

    February 26, 2009 at 4:30 pm |
  76. Mike From Maryland


    Here is a fun fact: The largest war spending bill to date was $162 billion in June of 2008.

    Its 2009 and the latest spending bill is more than 2.5 times the size of the largest war spending bill to date.

    Fiscal responsibility seems to be progressing nicely.

    February 26, 2009 at 4:30 pm |
  77. william, Oregon

    Go to my GOP Rep. Greg Walden's web page and look at the PORK he wants for Oregon. This is the man that votes NO on everything but PORK.

    Fed up in Oregon

    February 26, 2009 at 4:30 pm |
  78. Veronica Kahn


    Honey bees are not evil, and they are very necessary to our agriculture and right now they are dying off in alarming rates. honey bees should be taken off your list for me to think earmarks are evil.

    February 26, 2009 at 4:31 pm |
  79. Denis Duffy

    What a great question, Jack. Why do swine stink?
    Because we keep sending the same pigs to Washington.
    And how do they get there?
    The sheep vote them in.

    Pittsburgh, Pa.

    February 26, 2009 at 4:31 pm |
  80. Kevin

    Where are "earmarks" defined as evil? The federal appropriations process exists for reasons, especially evident to those of us that live among the Great Lakes. Without the so-called "pork-barrel earmarks", federally owned navigable waterways, which allow access for commerce, trade, and support hundreds of thousands of American jobs, would never be dredged and kept "navigable". Private, state and federal agencies established a trust fund, which had approximately $4.6 billions dollars available to maintain commercial waterways. Unfortunately, the Bush administration decided to turn it into an IOU account, in order to fund its own pet projects. If not for "earmarks", where do our communities come up dough to dredge? Maybe we can borrow it back from Iraq someday.

    February 26, 2009 at 4:32 pm |
  81. Simon Gulden

    Unfortunately, the current system of Budget preparation has no clear, short and simple guideline that simply says No to earmarks So, Politicians merely opt for the time-honoured old adage, when putting in earmarks: 'never as for permission, always ask for forgiveness...that usually works...yes, no!! SG

    February 26, 2009 at 4:32 pm |
  82. Andrew

    Let's be serious, generally earmarks aren't all that "evil," unless of course the money goes directly into the politician's pocket. However, with that said, I believe that the earmark system needs an overhaul. If the earmarks were perhaps removed from the veil of another bill and dealt with a streamlined legislative system, the stigma that many rightful received may be lifted. This system would have the objective of getting money towards vital local unfunded projects of limited cost, while rejecting ineffective, aimless, and true "pork." Oh well, maybe in a perfect world.

    February 26, 2009 at 4:32 pm |
  83. Randal Rosenbaum

    Earmarks are evil, especially in tough economic times such as today. They serve no purpose other than allowing a politician to "pay off" those who support his election or lobbying groups. This removes any accountability and hinders "government of the people, by the people".

    February 26, 2009 at 4:32 pm |
  84. Robert in Galveston

    Some earmarks are necessary, and most of the amounts are small (in the entire scheme of things). We need honey bees and if you live in Washington, Oregon or Hawaii volcano monitoring would seem like a good idea. Granted there will always be some politician trying to slip in a "Bridge to nowhere" but careful monitoring may help weed out the junk. People shouldn't put down an earmark just because it has no effect in their state, Are you listening Gov. Jindall?

    February 26, 2009 at 4:33 pm |
  85. Bernie of Lowell, MA

    "I'll vote for your legislation if you give me my earmark."

    It's called political blackmail. It's called buying a vote.

    Lowell, MA

    February 26, 2009 at 4:34 pm |
  86. Bob - Rockford Illinois

    Like a small household budget, if you have "the spare" cash buy those warm fuzzy items that make you happy but could have waited.

    When times are tough . . . . REALLY tough, and you are not sure you can pay your morgage, you car payment or buy food, THAT is not the time to buy tickets for the Super Bowl, buy a new stereo, take a cruise, or increase your spending for Christmas!!

    How simple must it be for ANY politician to understand?? Budgets are the financial fences we construct to limit our spending. What we have created with ALL of the MANY bailouts, stimulus packages and flat out give-aways is a stampede that has torn down all fences and is over running the landscape to the distruction of all who may get in it's path.

    February 26, 2009 at 4:35 pm |
  87. Kim - Blair, NE

    Necessary but not evil to all. Requires much research on each to determine if is wasteful.

    February 26, 2009 at 4:36 pm |
  88. JC in Lexington, SC

    Does it even matter anymore? For all their posturing and complaining both Democrats and Republicans do it. Unless the American people hold politicians accountable by NOT putting them into office anymore, nothing will change. America has not only become a nation of cowards, but of sheep as well.

    February 26, 2009 at 4:37 pm |
  89. Cris

    I honestly don't have an answer to that question. But hearing that the President is going to "halve the trillion dollar deficit" by the end of his first term should be translated that we will "have a trillion dollar deficit" by the end of his first term with this kind of spending.

    February 26, 2009 at 4:37 pm |
  90. Emily in Greenville SC

    Some are worthy projects, others justly described as pork. Need to keep them on prominent display with the names of those who put them in the bill. And Jack...without bees we would starve..so that may not be pork...those bees are pollinators of our food!

    February 26, 2009 at 4:38 pm |
  91. AL

    Earmarks are not necessarily evil. It provides a mechanism for elected officials to bring home needed funding for local projects vital to the survival of little town America. However, what is bad about it is a lack of oversight. Congressmen are like kids in a candy store. They require adult supervision to control excesses. The constitution provides for checks and balances between the executive and legislature. The President can veto some items he deems irresponsible through line item veto. Enough said.

    February 26, 2009 at 4:39 pm |
  92. Kevin from Muskegon, Michigan

    Where are "earmarks" defined as evil? The federal appropriations process exists for reasons, especially evident to those of us that live among the Great Lakes. Without some of these "pork-barrel earmarks", federally owned navigable waterways, which allow access for commerce, trade, and support hundreds of thousands of American jobs, would never be dredged and kept "navigable". Private, state and federal agencies established a trust fund, which had approximately $4.6 billions dollars available to maintain commercial waterways. Unfortunately, the Bush administration decided to turn it into an IOU account, in order to fund its own pet projects. If not for "earmarks", where do our communities come up dough to dredge? Maybe we can borrow it back from Iraq someday.

    February 26, 2009 at 4:39 pm |
  93. Larry

    Earmarks ar absolutely not necessary. Unfortunately the attitude of "that's how we've always done it" doesn't cut it with me. Most politicians that push for earmarks are not motiviated by anything are more interested in looking good so they can be reelected. There is minimal consideration of what is best for the nation as a whole.

    February 26, 2009 at 4:40 pm |
  94. Wanda from Ohio

    It is pure evil. If the issue cannot stand alone in its own bill it should not be considered or taqgged onto some other bill such as the Budget. Bills should address only one issue. Unrelatred issues should not be allowed legally to be tagged onto another piece of legislation

    February 26, 2009 at 4:41 pm |
  95. Bob - Rockford Illinois

    One final thought after reading about "Not all earmarks are evil . . . ."

    If a supposed "earmark" is good shouldn't it be good enough to stand on it's own or must earmarks be hidden in 1100+ page bills intended for things UNRELATED to the earmarks??

    Once again . . . . a simple question.

    February 26, 2009 at 4:41 pm |
  96. C. Farrell, Houston, Tx

    Earmarks are neither, it's the lawmakers that request them.

    February 26, 2009 at 4:41 pm |
  97. EugeneWiese Midlothian,Va.

    The financial crisis is a bigger threat than terriorism. National security is ongoing and improving,like an airplane,it can't get old. The financial crisis is a quagmire but it has to improve and it will,patience. Gene

    February 26, 2009 at 4:42 pm |
  98. Ed the Poolman

    Jack, I am still waiting for Senator McCain to make all these porkers famous as he promised... is it possible his name is in the trough with his Rebublican cohorts?

    February 26, 2009 at 4:42 pm |
  99. simonsays

    Earmarks are necessary....for congressmen to keep themselves in power. This bailout is not about bailing us out. It's about bailing out incompetent congressmen so they can keep fleecing us. Obama talked about "sacrifice". I don't see congress sacrificing anything.

    February 26, 2009 at 4:43 pm |
  100. Barbara Mauro, Niskayuna NY

    Please do not ridicule basic scientific research related to agriculture. You do not want to sound as anti-intellectual as did Gov. Palin when she ridiculed fruit fly research - without which human genetic research would grind to a halt. America is often criticized for not matching up to other countries in science and math. Our students who have the brains and gumption to pursue scientific research in a university laboratory often feel discouraged when their non-scientist friends and family don't understand what they are working on - let's not add ridicule to that.
    Working in a biology research lab can be grueling, as I learned from my daughter did lab research at a major university.
    How glamourous is it to set your alarm clock for 3 am on a weekend in order to get over to the lab to carry out the next step in a time-sensitive experiment? Not very.
    As for the honey bee research, it is long overdue. Haven't you been following the news about hive-collapse, which is a threat to our entire agricultural sector? Much is high tech, but crops still need bee pollination.

    February 26, 2009 at 4:43 pm |
  101. Luis in Phoenix

    Just plain evil.

    We can't butter our toast on both sides anymore. We passed a recovery plan to spur the economy, not by choice, but out of necessity.

    That means that all spending going forward must be cut to the bone and include only the necessities until we achieve an annual surplus to start paying down the national debt.

    February 26, 2009 at 4:43 pm |
  102. Purnell Kankakee lL.

    No they are not,

    But some members of Congress are just down right greedy, trying to get a much as they can when they fully know they do not need the money. Republican put a show as if they are aginst ear marks but they ask for fifty percent of them, and complain about the ear marks of Democrates, as if they are not doing the same thing!

    February 26, 2009 at 4:44 pm |
  103. Dave Springer

    earmarks are just another way for a bunch of crooked politicians, democrats and republicans, to cheat the public out of millions of dollars . I have been an Obama supporter but he seems to do things alot different once he got elected. He says there will be no more lobbyists but he keeps giving them positions of authority.

    February 26, 2009 at 4:45 pm |
  104. Michael Roepke

    Individual Congresspeople were once frustrated when the controlling party determined capital projects. Earmarks came to be so out-of-favor Congresspeople could effect needed projects to their state or district.

    Now that they have evolved into the absurd, perhaps the answer is for Congress to define some minimum requirements before any individual request can become part of a bill.

    Rather than just condemn, let's look for good alternatives.

    February 26, 2009 at 4:45 pm |
  105. karen-phoenix

    What some people call "pork" or earmarks are another person's JOB!!!
    I live in AZ and I sure wish McCain would have done a little better job for AZ and gotten us something!!! Anything!!! Our schools are a mess!
    Sometimes I think he just started that "pork" stuff so he didn't have to work and get us anything!!!

    February 26, 2009 at 4:45 pm |
  106. AC

    looking at what earmarks are being criticized. they either help to further our knowledge (the volcano research, that library thing), help infrastructure, or something that could be considered important by somebody somewhere. i think an argument could be made as to whether earmarks create jobs. face it people the government is a crucial part of our economy. it is biggest single consumer! the idea that big government is never the answer is unwise. if it werent for the fdic, the banks would be in worse shape than they are now. the fact that the gop attacked volcano research funding shows just how backwards they are. they probably think that if we got rid of the gays, and abortion god would not let the volcano erupt. i honestly dont think jindal believed all of the stuff they put him up to saying.

    February 26, 2009 at 4:46 pm |
  107. Craig

    As most of us are disgusted with pork, this "news flash" sounds like juicey stuff to get folks riled up, unless you missed any of the reports from National Geographic, Science Daily or the NY times concerning the the US honey bee problem and how it may impact our future food supplies. Did you mention how many jobs or us exports rely on our nations grapes?
    No one with a brain has ever claimed this was a perfect plan, but apparently some would rather wait until US economy is completely in in the toilet while congress squabbles about the small stuff.
    Congratulations, you have identified less than .01% of so called "pork " and these examples are misleading at best.
    Personally I would swap the 40 million for the presidential libraries and gladly give it to honey bee research.

    February 26, 2009 at 4:46 pm |
  108. Larry, Ohio

    Jack,earmarks are an evil addiction.We as a nation are reeling from the effects of the addicts that populate congress.Like any other drug, trying to wean yourself away from them a little at a time never works.These clowns need to quit cold turkey!!!!!

    February 26, 2009 at 4:48 pm |
  109. Ray Pendleton

    One of the few things that functions in this country and is still the envy of the world is U.S. agriculture, and one of the few things we have to sell to countries like China are agricultural products. So, out of trillions of dollars being spent, much of it going to corrupt organizations, what does Mr. Cafferty choose to single out as "pork? You guessed it: agriculture. And the amount? A paltry few millions of dollars. They have lost that much in congressional couches! With advice like this, is it any wonder America is "dumbing down"? Oh yeah, by the way, I don't know what you do where you live, Jack, but here in Oregon we eat food. It would be nice to keep a steady supply. Ray, Portland, Oregon

    February 26, 2009 at 4:49 pm |
  110. glenn andrew

    That smell you perceive is not from the manure Ear-marked project, but from the intrinsic smell of pork barrel politics. Whatever happened to Candidate Obama's stated aversion to Pork when grilled on Pork and Ear-marks by Candidate McCain during the campaign? Why not make tax payer support of this spending voluntary, and see then how many go along with this orgy of Pork?

    February 26, 2009 at 4:49 pm |
  111. George

    Not all earmarks are bad, its the politicians who sneak them in under the radar who are bad.

    February 26, 2009 at 4:51 pm |
  112. Kris Oddson

    The US is well down the road to becoming a kleptocracy:a government by thieves. Why are peopke surprised by thousands of pork bills in a budget bill?

    February 26, 2009 at 4:51 pm |
  113. Pat, Pa.

    Hey Jack,

    Honeybees are critical to the farmer and the growing of crops and have.been dying off the past couple of years. I think this is a good thing.

    Wine and grapes are supposed to be good for your health. Maybe some research on them is a neccessary thing.

    As for the swine odor and manure management. I guess it is not funny if you live in Iowa. Really, same research can't be done in Washington, D.C.

    February 26, 2009 at 4:52 pm |
  114. Bernie Sosa

    I am of the opinion that earmarks can be a very good thing if there going to a good cause why are you labeling them as evil at all. Do you even know what your talking about? Maybe some research is due, before you go and generalize all earmarks as a bad thing. Take each one for what they are. I think however much they are spending in the studies of honey bees is well worth it. Are you aware that the bees aren't pollinating plants as they were before. Do you have any idea what would happen to our plant life here on earth if they ceased to pollinate. can you imagine what it would cost us to figure out that little issue after the fact, if it weren't researched now! Give me a break categorizing every thing together as evil would have the same implication as saying that all news casters are as ignorant as Rush Limbo or Hannity, and I'm sure that that's not the case I have to much respect for your profession than to put you in that category. So please lets take each so called earmark for what its worth indivisually, for there's probably not enough money allocated for certain things that deserve more, but you have to start somewhere and if an earmark is what it takes then so be it. But I'll tell you what I wouldn't do, and that's to lump them all together and call them all evil unless you know exactly what your talking about! There must be a good reason for them to be there in the fist place, don't you think . Why don't you take them one by one and get to the root of the issue and really know what your saying before you start assuming every thing is evil!!! forgive my rant Im very well rehersed in these issues and an passionate about all the issues at hand, respectfuly Bernie

    February 26, 2009 at 4:52 pm |
  115. Ron Hays

    One earmark may find an important discovery at a State University studing pigs. An earmark supported lightening study could lead to a way to better use electicl energy. Earmarks are not by nature bad, some have resulted in scientific, medical and enviormental improvements

    February 26, 2009 at 4:53 pm |
  116. Mary - Santee CA

    Earmarks – Pork! Are they necessary evils? I don't think so especially now when the economy is sending people to the unemployment lines, people cannot pay their bills, and a President has a multi-trillon dollar budget.. Regardless if they represent millions (tiny pork so says Mr. Schumer, Mr. Egotist and the people could care less), these are millions that could best be spent by the citizens to stimulate the economy. I would like to be able to afford a new car (I drive 1988 Bronco II), so send me just a tiny bit of that pork and I could stimulate with the purchase of a new car.

    February 26, 2009 at 4:56 pm |