Monday, March 26, 2007

Top Ten Emergency Earmarks

Just in case you want to keep score on the earmarks Politico reports a list of the top ten:
--$165,200 to the widow of Rep. Charles Norwood (R-Ga.), a promoter of patients’ rights legislation who died of cancer and lung disease in February, three months after he was reelected.

--$4 million for the Office of Women's Health at the Food and Drug Administration.

--$5 million for tropical fish breeders and transporters for losses from a virus last year.

--$25 million for spinach that growers and handlers were unable to market, up to 75 percent of their losses.

--$50 million “for asbestos abatement and other improvements” to the Capitol Power Plant.

--$60.4 million for the National Marine Fisheries Service, “to be distributed among fishing communities, Indian tribes, individuals, small businesses, including fishermen, fish processors, and related businesses, and other persons for assistance to mitigate the economic and other social effects caused by” a commercial fishery failure.

--$74 million “for the payment of storage, handling, and other associated costs for the 2007 crop of peanuts to ensure proper storage of peanuts for which a loan is made.”

--$120 million for the shrimp and menhaden fishing industries to cover consequences of Hurricane Katrina.

--$283 million for the Milk Income Loss Contract Program.

--$400 million for “wildland fire suppression.”
And, that was just in the House. The Senate has pork plans as well:
Next week, the Senate will take up its version of the war bill, which includes such sweeteners as $13 million for Ewe Lamb Replacement and Retention Program, $24 million for sugar beet producers and $165.9 million for fisheries disaster relief.
I suppose what I'm going to write next will just sound silly. But, when you look at the enumerated powers in Article I, Section 8, where can we find Congress having the power to do the things on these lists? Does the power to regulate interstate commerce include the power to pay for ewe lamb replacement or to subsidize milk income losses, or to give "our" money to spinach farmers for unmarketed crops? I know, I know, the Supreme Court has surely allowed Congress to assert such things as falling under the power to regulate interstate commerce. Oh, and by the way, where is the enumerated power to give tax dollars to a widow? And, all of this as part of an emergency national defense appropriations bill. What a shame.

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