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December 04, 2003

Budget Pork Explodes Under GOP

Read this slam on the emerging GOP practice of ending merit-based grants in federal spending, and instead requiring "pay to play" political contributions to get pork earmarked in the budget:

Historically, Congress funded grant programs and then asked federal agencies, governors, and mayors to competitively award the grants to the most capable applicants. But over the past few years, Congress has aggressively begun bypassing these agencies, governors, and mayors and selecting the grant recipients themselves, such as Police Athletic League and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame (these projects selected by Congress instead of agencies are called earmarks, or pork projects). Grant seekers can no longer simply submit a persuasive grant proposal to an unbiased agency. Now, they must master the Washington influence game and hire a lobbyist to pursue their interest.

Predictably, an entire lobbying industry has emerged to secure pork projects for those willing to pay for their services. Organizations and local governments seeking federal money can choose between dozens of powerful lobbying firms who effectively trade campaign contributions for earmarks.

Auctioning pork projects to the highest bidder reduces the number of merit-based grants for distribution by federal agencies, governors and mayors. These shortages induce Congress to expand these programs and then earmark those new funds as well. Consequently, the number of pork projects skyrocketed from under 2,000 five years ago to 9,362 in the 2003 budget. Total spending on pork projects has correspondingly increased to over $23 billion.

What liberal organization is slamming current GOP practices compared to the more ethical approach of past, assumably Democratic-run Congresses?

None other than the rightwing Heritage Foundation.

What is amazing is that even Bush's conservative allies think the GOP are bought and paid for by K Street lobbyists.

Posted by Nathan at December 4, 2003 08:15 PM