In reviewing recent news stories and blog postings about omnibus earmarks, I noticed they focused on the total NUMBER of earmarks with few if any direct DOLLAR comparisons to previous fiscal years. "What's up with that?", I wondered.
I decided to research the recent history of both the number of earmarks and their DOLLAR value. (My view is that If Congress creates MORE earmarks, but they cost LESS TOTAL DOLLARS, that’s clearly better than the reverse situation).
So I used the Citizens Against Government Waste [CAGW] “Pig Books” data to see how the number and DOLLARS of earmarks have changed over the years.
SURPRISE! The DOLLARS in earmarks compared to recent prior periods HAVE gone DOWN.
- When compared to the average for FY 2002-FY 2006 earmark $$'s for FY 2008 declined by 25%.
- When compared to the average for FY 2002-FY 2006 the average earmark $$'s for FY 2007-FY 2008 were 36% lower.
The PDF table I prepared HERE provides the CAGW data [and web linked sources] from 1991 -2008, and includes my calculation and comparison of averages for FY 2002-FY 2006 and FY 2007-FY 2008.
[While I do remain opposed to earmarks because of their non competitive, "insider" nature, my view is that it important to avoid "cherry picking" facts which bolster either pro or con earmark arguments].