"Under the House bill, all earmarks inserted into appropriations during the conference committee stage must identify the earmarker -- unless, we now discover, the earmark goes to a federal agency, as nearly half of them do. Another notable earmark exception has been carved out for Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, the mortgage giants that are political honey pots for the Members. As far as we know, the two companies have never received an earmark before -- which raises the question of whether they are about to become a new earmark shelter for the Members to disguise their pork-barrel habits.Isn't there an old adage that goes something like "watch what they do, not what they say?" Many of the Washington politicians may talk a good game, but when I read things like this I wonder why I shouldn't conclude that Washington these days is rife with corruption. What do you think? Can you give me specific reasons not to reach this conclusion?
Oh, and earmarks directed to state and local governments are also exempt from the requirement under some circumstances. How big a loophole is that? 'It could be as big as the appropriators are clever,' Representative Jeff Flake (R., Ariz.) told us. 'And they're pretty clever.' Congressman Flake has been fighting the earmark tide since long before it became a cause celebre, and he's hoping the loopholes can be narrowed when the House and Senate sit down to agree on a common version of the bill." ["Earmark Loopholes," The Wall Street Journal, Friday, May 19, 2006]
Saturday, May 20, 2006
On the Editorial Page of the Wall Street Journal ($$$):