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Tag Archive: Defense Appropriations

Defense Conference Report Contains more than 2,000 Earmarks

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A source on the Hill emails about the just released conference report for Defense Appropriations, saying that it "contains a massive number of earmarks – 2,049 to be exact." I'm going to round the figures somewhat (they were calculated on the fly) but total cost of the earmarks is $4.9 billion. Included are 24 new earmarks costing about $59 million that were “airdropped” into the conference report. "These earmarks were considered by neither the House nor the Senate and were immaculately conceived in the conference report," he says. I've started skimming the report, and not everything is going up. According to EarmarkWatch, for example, Rep. James Moran had sponsored or co-sponsored 29 House Defense earmarks totalling $47,000,000 in the House bill; after conference, his name was still attached to 29 earmarks, but the amount budgeted for them will be $40 million.

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A Picture Is Worth a Thousand Words

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One of Sunlight's resident creative geniuses (yes, there are many of them) have taken all the Defense Appropriations Earmarks and made them available for viewing within Google Earth. (You can only view this using Google Earth which you can download from this page.) The regular Google Maps version is available here.

And as they say: a picture really is worth a 1,000 words. One of our policy wonks loved the flight simulator that allows you to fly over earmark locations. It allows you to fly your choice of two aircraft anywhere around the globe, with custom layers visible from the aircraft. The simulator is hidden within the latest version of the program, and takes some getting used to controlling, but is certainly an entertaining way to experience the Earth's actual geography-and to educate yourself politically at the same time.

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Earmarks Now a Danger to Troops

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In what must be the most bizarre tale of earmarking I've ever heard the Oregonian is reporting that the T-shirts purchased for Marines through a $2 million earmark have been banned because they "can melt, causing severe burns." Rep. David Wu, the member who inserted the earmark is "horrified". This information has come out due to the excellent database set up by the Seattle Times.

Wu also is "horrified" that journalists and others would connect the earmarks he distributed to the campaign contributions he received. Now perhaps, if given a huge benefit of the doubt, Wu was attempting to get a contract to a district based business to do this kind of work. You know, the typical "help out the district" work that members of Congress are supposed to do. Even if we assume that, this example clearly shows that earmarking is not an efficient way of doling out important contracts. Maybe if there was some kind of competitive bidding or review process we wouldn't have Marines getting "severe burns" from their own melting clothes.

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