Pushed by the tea party, Republicans are now outraged by earmarks that have become symbols of excessive spending by the federal government. But what these spending reformers aren't saying is that their party was the biggest users of earmarks when they took over Congress after the 1994 elections on through George W. Bush's presidency.
The GOP likes to paint Democrats as big-spending liberals, but Republicans, at least until recently, were among the biggest spenders in Congress.
The Citizens Against Government Waste said that earmark spending went from $8 billion in 1994 to more than $27 billion in 2005. The GOP took control of Congress in 1994 and won the White House in 2000.
Republican leaders in the House and Senate now oppose earmarks, and President Obama agrees with them. Congressional Democrats should join the earmark-reform movement. The Democrats perpetuated the bad habits of the Republicans when they took over Congress in 2006.
The problem with earmarks is not the projects they fund. Most of them are worthy, although some clearly are a waste of money. The problem is in the allocation process. Earmarks are not part of the normal budget debates, and are added to appropriations bills, without examination, or a specific vote.
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