Earmarks help small communities - Must Read Alaska
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Friday, April 3, 2020
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Earmarks help small communities


Sen. Lisa Murkowski says it is time to bring back now-barred congressional earmarks. When she is right she is right.

Congressional earmarks were a way years ago for lawmakers to direct or append funds to legislation for specific projects, circumventing the executive branch. They are immensely helpful for smaller states and communities that easily can be overlooked in the legislative process.

Unfortunately, they sometimes were misused – trading votes for project money – by some in Congress although that funding accounted for less than 1 percent of the federal budget. Democrats and Republicans alike, fearing voter backlash, spun earmarks into the devil’s own work. Opponents likened them to pork barrel spending.

President Barack Obama, with acquiescence from members of both parties, killed earmarks, declaring in 2011 he would sign no legislation containing them. Republicans banned them when they took control.

What that did was ensure Burgville, U.S.A., did not get the federal funding or attention it needed to fix its sidewalks because members of the executive branch in Washington, D.C., have no idea where Burgville is or what its problems or needs may be. Nor, in large part, do they care.

But Burgville’s House member or senator surely does, and when they were cut out of the funding loop it did smaller areas of the nation little good.

Sen. Lisa Murkowski, KTUU reports, told a recent Commonwealth North luncheon that needs to end.

Read more….

When she’s right …

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Written by

Suzanne Downing had careers in business and journalism before serving as the Director of Faith and Community-based Initiatives for Florida Gov. Jeb Bush and returning to Alaska to serve as speechwriter for Gov. Sean Parnell. Born on the Oregon coast, she moved to Alaska in 1969.

Latest comments

  • Bit early for April Fools jokes…
    Sure, why not reinstate earmarks, the very definition of corruption, cronyism, backroom dealings, elections for life and for sale, at least as long as the officeholder can keep money coming in….
    Sad reality is nobody outside of Burgville, U.S.A. cares about Burgville, unless it’s election year or the optics can be used advantageously for a crisis that only more money can fix.
    Rural sanitation, transportation, and energy distribution are perennial Alaskan crises which got that way when earmarks were in vogue, so how will more earmarks help?
    We’re supposed to believe these things will be forever cured only if the American taxpayer is forced to subsidize them.
    Alaskans don’t have a clue as to whether the State has money to fix these things, because they don’t know how much money the State has, or where the money’s hidden.
    Senator Murkowski has the chutzpah to talk about “earmarks” while the State of Alaska plans to waste the equivalent of the Permanent Fund in building a pipeline to donate natural gas to the Communist Chinese?
    Earmarks while multi-billion-dollar Alaska Native corporations do what with their profits?
    No, Murkowski’s Earmarks For Alaska looks like it’s all about a coming quid pro quo for voting “present” during Judge Kavanaugh’s confirmation.
    “Billions for Burgville”! has a nice ring… Not that Burgvillains will see a dime of it after everybody else gets their rake…
    But who cares, if it means more money, Senator Murkowski must be right.

    • Morrigan, you are spot on with your comments on earmarks. Earmarks are politicians playing with our money.

    • Ditto. The truth hurts. Lest we forget, the earmark for the nowhere bridge was so egregious it attracted national news as an example of out -of -control spending.

      One can argue that it helps small communities, but in reality the proposed bridge connected the mainland with an island where the power politicians owned substantial

      They would have made a small fortune in land development that the bridge would have facilitated. Whenever monies are focused by the bigshots, see who ( or whom ) it really benefits.
      You will be very surprised, or maybe not.

  • Earmarks never accounted for more than a very small percentage of spending. Yes we waste money, but getting rid of earmarks doesn’t mean that we don’t waste money or even waste less money. Rather than letting the people who have some accountability – because they are elected – direct spending, now 100% of spending is controlled by bureaucrats for whom there is no accountability. We don’t even know their names. I don’t see the lift.

    More importantly, earmarks required some getting along with those on the other side. Without them partisanship has increased. It was a rookie move to get rid of them. I believe government has always been and will always be an inefficient allocator of resources and therefore needs to be smaller. Getting rid of earmarks has not helped that happen at all.

  • It is good that partisanship has increased.
    Can’t imagine what earmark’s worth going down the toilet along with the Party of Hillary Clinton…
    Nowadays, getting along with those on the other side means keeping a running account of how much you’re willing to sell your soul and your country to get more money, to stay in office, to get, or keep, your committee membership, or chairmanship.
    Seems like it’s the damned non-rookies who’ve maneuvered our American way of life to the brink of destruction…
    So, whatever rookies do to offend and disrupt the Establishment, especially those who vote “present”, might wind up being just what Americans need to save their country, no?

    • How about we a have a true hard cut of 10% to all spending and bring back earmarks?

  • Want to keep your committee membership, chairmanship, make friends with lobbyists, cook up ad hoc alliances, get re-election money, get a few earmarks tossed your way, you don’t want to annoy senior people, don’t want to get in somebody’s way at the earmark trough…
    Apex predators get theirs, you get scraps…
    Then tell folks back home how hard you worked for the true hard cut of 10% to all spending.
    This could work.

  • Did I miss that spending went down after you did away with earmarks?

    • Didn’t miss a thing, you’re too good…
      Earmarks are gone, but you, the incumbent, know what federal agencies are big in your state, so you get well acquainted with agency managers, their contractors and their lobbyists, find out what they want, “suggest” new and better ways of spending extra money that only you can get for them during appropriations, and be there for shovel-turning and ribbon-cutting ceremonies.
      Spending does not go down, that’s not the point.
      Everybody gets their money, your challenger in the next election can’t brag about doing what you did, it doesn’t look like you sold anything important to do it, and you’re another step closer to Senator For Life because voters forgot you didn’t have the courage to vote for Judge Kavanaugh and big donors don’t care.
      That’s the point.

  • For those so inclined, one would think being US Senator is about the best job in the world. Yet Frank threw it all away – and the accrued seniority capital – in order to gift the seat to his daughter. In four years she will follow in her father’s footsteps either by not running or being defeated by someone who is willing to earn it. AK needs seniority in order to get a disproportionate share of slop from the trough. And its less bad for the US when small population states have seniority. A few brazilians is a big deal in a small state but inconsequential in a large one – they need tillions.

  • It should be noted that the late Senator Ted was the king of earmarks. It should further be noted that the late Senator Ted made a lot more Democrats rich than Republicans, save for Bill Allen.

    We have seen this play before and it is the one that ends with non-rural Alaska getting nothing. No thanks.

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