Pork Makes a Comeback
Republicans, of course, are against earmarks. They're a sign of the corruption of the budgeting process. They drive up federal spending. And they put politics before common sense. Bad, bad, bad.
Unless, um, they're hidden. MoJo's Adam Weinstein reports today on MFET, a $1 billion defense appropriation slush fund approved in the House version of the Republican budget, $650 million of which is being funneled to members' pet projects:
Details on the size or beneficiaries of the projects funded by the MFET are hard to discern from the defense bill's lengthy list of procurements. But armed services committee members on both sides of the aisle have left clues. In the days following the voice vote approving their budget, they pumped out press releases trumpeting the projects they'd scored for their districts. Since the MFET funds came from other cuts in the Pentagon budget, the members could claim their projects would be offset by spending cuts elsewhere. Rep. Allen West (R-Fla.), a tea party freshman who sees himself as a budget hawk, secured $8 million for engines for Army drones, funded by savings from "wasteful DOD offsets." Rep. Chris Gibson (R-N.Y.) bragged that he'd secured a federal study to open a nanotechnology lab on the SUNY-Albany campus in his district, as well as $7 million in funding for additional nanotech research. Rep. Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.), announced $3 million in funding for a nonprofit called the Technology Ventures Corporation, which would "help expand innovation in New Mexico's emerging satellite industry."
Ah, Washington. Not only are these earmarks, despite some laughable attempts to suggest otherwise, but they're stealth earmarks that don't even have to be disclosed. This actually makes them worse than old style pork. It turns out you can take the boy out of the pig sty, but you can never take the pig sty out of the boy.