Monday, May 01, 2006

Disclosing Pork

Tennessee congressmen Jim Cooper, Lincoln Davis, and Harold Ford, Jr. have decided to get to the forefront to the current legislative ethics debate over earmarks by publicly disclosing the earmarks that they have requested for their districts. The Tennessean has a story and links to each of their requests.

While disclosure is a step in the right direction, and these congressmen should be commended for at least that, their lists of projects, which they evidently consider to be appropriate, point to the reality of the problem. While many, perhaps most, of these requests are for projects that would be helpful to this or that group of citizens, virtually none of them have a legitimate federal purpose, and they all represent requests for funding outside of the budgetary requests of the federal agencies and departments to which they would attach additional funds and responsibilities.

John Tanner defends the practice: "People elect Congress to make spending decisions, and individual members know better than bureaucrats how money should be spent at home." However, Mr. Tanner considers his ilk to be more indispensable and more responsible than many of us would give them credit for.

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