Earmarks Are Like a Virus. In a Barrel. Of Pork.

For indispensable reporting on the coronavirus crisis, the election, and more, subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily newsletter.


pig.jpg

In the first of a series of articles on earmarking, the Christian Science Monitor peers into the putrid depths of the congressional pork barrel, 2006 model. Today the paper looks at the infamous “bridge to nowhere” in Alaska, one of 6,371 “bonus projects” inserted in last year’s highway bill by lawmakers eager to win points at home, the common good be damned.

That’s right — all the bracing talk of reform and self-purification that attended the fall of Jack Abramoff has come to naught: earmarks accounted for a record $29.3 billion in fiscal year 2006.

The connection between earmarking and public disdain for Congress is well established. Less understood, but no less serious (okay, a bit less serious), is the link between pork-barrel spending and the indiscriminate use of mixed metaphors. “Earmarks are like a virus,” says Tom Schatz of Citizens Against Government Waste. “They cause a huge amount of wasteful spending.” For Sen. Tom Coburn, they are “a gateway drug on the road to spending addiction.” And in the view of the Monitor‘s headline writer, “the rolling pork barrel is picking up speed.” Clearly, action is needed before the barrel — or the pig? — runs off the road.

DEMOCRACY DOES NOT EXIST...

without free and fair elections, a vigorous free press, and engaged citizens to reclaim power from those who abuse it.

In this election year unlike any other—against a backdrop of a pandemic, an economic crisis, racial reckoning, and so much daily bluster—Mother Jones' journalism is driven by one simple question: Will America move closer to, or further from, justice and equity in the years to come?

If you're able to, please join us in this mission with a donation today. Our reporting right now is focused on voting rights and election security, corruption, disinformation, racial and gender equity, and the climate crisis. We can’t do it without the support of readers like you, and we need to give it everything we've got between now and November. Thank you.

DEMOCRACY DOES NOT EXIST...

without free and fair elections, a vigorous free press, and engaged citizens to reclaim power from those who abuse it.

In this election year unlike any other—against a backdrop of a pandemic, an economic crisis, racial reckoning, and so much daily bluster—Mother Jones' journalism is driven by one simple question: Will America move closer to, or further from, justice and equity in the years to come?

If you're able to, please join us in this mission with a donation today. Our reporting right now is focused on voting rights and election security, corruption, disinformation, racial and gender equity, and the climate crisis. We can’t do it without the support of readers like you, and we need to give it everything we've got between now and November. Thank you.

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our free newsletter

Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily to have our top stories delivered directly to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate