"Some members have proposed a ban on earmarks, but top Republican leaders such as House Speaker J. Dennis Hastert of Illinois have defended the practice.Wow, what an interesting criterion? Who knows best, eh? I would not want to answer this question by saying that I expect a member of Congress knows best where to spend money back home. Actually, I think the best answer to the question is to let the taxpayers keep their money to begin with. I think I know best how to spend my money? How about you? Perhaps if the members of Congress want to spend their own money on the earmarks, then I could go along with the practice. As it is, I think earmarks are a substantial abuse of Congressional power.
'Who knows best where to put a bridge or a highway or a red light in their district,' he said in a radio interview with Michael Reagan this week. 'We need to change how we do earmarks, we need to do it in the light of day and not the last minute type of situation, but I think we can do some reform on that and still serve what's in the best interest of the American people.'
In a column yesterday in Roll Call, a newspaper covering Capitol Hill, House Appropriations Committee Chairman Jerry Lewis, California Republican, said giving up earmarks would end the congressional power of the purse.
He has proposed putting a cap on the number of earmarks allowed per member, and requiring that the requester submit a letter that would be printed in the Congressional Record.
But earmark opponents like Rep. Jeff Flake, Arizona Republican, said capping the total number of earmarks would just mean lawmakers ask for bigger-ticket items.
The Congressional Research Service said earmarks have grown from 4,126 in 1994, the year before Republicans gained control of Congress, to 15,268 in 2005. "
Saturday, January 28, 2006
The Washington Times: