Wednesday, December 26, 2007

News Flash for President: Earmark DOLLARS Have Come DOWN 25%-36%.

The President has recently been making statements about examining his options before signing the recently passed omnibus appropriations bill, citing the excessive NUMBER of earmarks in the bill. Those options include ignoring congressional earmarks in the omnibus bill unless they are contained within the bill language (as opposed to in reports that accompany the bill).

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.
(I used these periods for comparison as Democrats were in charge of Congress for the appropriation bills for both FY 2007-FY2008, while the President/Republicans held sway from FY 2002-2006. Note also that the '07-'08 comparisons to prior years would be even more favorable if I had upwardly adjusted earlier fiscal year earmark DOLLARS for inflation).

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].

Saturday, October 20, 2007

"Creation Science" Earmark Removed Under Pressure.

[Title correction]

A good example of the extent to which earmarks can be taken. Note that sponsor was from Louisiana, which may have somewhat more pressing needs.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Willamette Week Story on Earmarks; New Pivot Table Using WW Data

The August 15 Willamette Week weekly newspaper has a new story on earmarks HERE. (Full disclosure-I was interviewed for the piece and the story includes a quote from me and a reference to this blog).

My initial take is that WW and reporter Ian Demsky have done a good job in presenting key information about earmarks in Oregon.WW should also be commended for taking the time to download and build their own data set and also for making that data available to readers who may want to see more details on the specifics of Oregon earmarks.

To build on WW efforts, this morning I downloaded the WW earmark list and in MS Excel added a pivot table that makes it easy for readers to see earmark dollars by city and requestor (or to create Pivot tables of their own making). This expanded MS Excel workbook version of WW's earmark data is available HERE.

Saturday, August 11, 2007

HUD Earmark Levels Over Last 5 Years; Another Omnibus HUD Spending Bill Would Make it 4 out of 5.

I've gone back and looked at national HUD earmarks from FY 2004-FY 2008 and have a better idea about how Congress will claim a reduction in earmarks. I focused on HUD earmarks for Economic Development Initiative and Neighborhood Initiative programs.

Because FY 2008 HUD earmarks in the House bill are half FY 2006 levels it seems highly likely that those are the two years which members will choose to compare.

HUD Earmark Levels FY 2004-FY 2008 (Pending):
FY 2008 $180 Million House Bill,, (Senate Bill higher at $288 Million)
FY 2007 $000 Million (Omnibus Appropriations Bill)
FY 2006 $360 Million
FY 2005 $304 Million (Omnibus Appropriations Bill)
FY 2004 $322 Million (Omnibus Appropriations Bill)

(I also snuck a peek back a decade ago to FY 1998--Earmarks for the EDI program were $100 Million and there were NO Neighborhood
Initiative earmarks!)

It appears highly likely that once again HUD appropriations may be rolled into an omnibus spending bill making it 4 out of the last 5 years that will have happened.

Missing in this analysis is a comparison of Presidential earmark levels over these same years--the Office of Management and Budget conveniently omits Presidential budget earmarks in their definition of earmarks. (One could argue that additional set asides for Enterprise, Habitat for Humanity, Youthbuild, La Raza and the Low Income Support Corporation should get also get counted as earmarks, but I didn't do so, as these are likely also found in the Presidents budget).

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

Earmark Reform Language From “Honest Leadership and Open Government Act of 2007”

Ethics Reform legislation has been sent to the President after passing both the Senate ( 83-14) and the House ( 411-8) last week.The specific bill language on Earmark reform from the legislation is HERE.

Sunday, August 5, 2007

Database Correction Posted; Handful of Duplicate Entries Removed

In reviewing the data in my last posting and workbook I realized that there were a handful of Senate earmarks from the Commerce and Justice appropriations that had been entered twice. I have now removed those duplicates from the database in this CORRECTED database HERE.

The new Oregon earmark total is now $488,786,572 instead of the previously reported total of $490,586,572

1.The President’s earmark requests and those presidential earmarks supported by the delegation, and the difference between them, remained the same as in the earlier post:

The President’s budget earmark requests for Oregon: $454,707,000

Presidential Earmarks Only, Oregon Delegation requested: $373,442,833

Oregon delegation reduction in Presidential earmarks: ($81,264,167)

2. However, the amount of Oregon delegation earmarks NOT found in the President’s budget were reduced. This also reduced the net increase in delegation earmarks beyond those requested in the Presidents budget. The corrected amounts are:

Oregon delegation earmarks NOT in the President’s Budget: $115,343,739

Net Increase in Delegation Earmarks vs. President’s Budget: $34,079,572

I regret these errors.

Earmarks Inching Closer to Half a Billion; Delegation Earmarks vs. Presidential Earmarks Data Worksheets Added

House Defense and Agriculture earmarks have added another $20 Million to Oregon earmarks, bringing combined House and Senate earmarks past the $490 Million level for FY 2008. FY 2008 earmarks are 19 times FY 2007 Oregon earmarks of $25.73 Million.

Analysis of Presidential vs. Oregon Delegation Earmarks.

1.In the Excel workbook HERE I have added a new worksheet which includes only those earmarks where “the President” is included as either the requestor or in combination with an Oregon Senator or Representative.

The President’s budget earmark requests for Oregon:

Presidential Earmarks Only, Oregon Delegation requested:

Oregon Delegation Reduction in Presidential Earmarks: $(81,264,167)

2.I have added a second worksheet for earmarks NOT from the President, but added by a member of the delegation.

Oregon delegation earmarks NOT in the President’s Budget: $117,143,739

3.Net Increase in Delegation Earmarks vs. President’s Budget: $35,879,572

Some important notes:
  1. About ¼ of the appropriations bills remain to be passed by committee and data entered into the Oregon earmarks database.
  2. The database necessarily currently has similar/duplicate entries for the same project in differing bills from the House and Senate. The amount represented as Presidential earmarks are subject to similar duplication.
  3. None of the appropriations bills has been passed by both House and Senate and signed by the President. The bill reconciliation process, possible vetoes, and the possibility of an omnibus appropriations bill combining several individual bills will impact earmarks, most likely to reduce them.

There are three important “take aways’ :

  1. When all is said and done, Oregon final earmarks for FY 2008 may very well be LESS than the earmarks for Oregon requested by the President in his budget, albeit for different projects than requested in the budget.
  2. Data confirmation that the President’s Budget IS a key source of earmarks should not minimize the significant increase in Oregon Earmarks that seems likely to occur from FY 2007 to FY 2008.
  3. With few appropriations bills actually signed into law it seems likely there may be once again an omnibus spending bill combining several appropriations into one bill. This would likely refocus attention on earmarks, even though unlike last year this is not an election year (but it is a year before the presidential electon).

Saturday, July 28, 2007

Correction: Bills Passed To Date Are 74%, Not 55%

In last post I indicated that data for 45% of appropriations had not yet been approved by Committee (I.E. 55% of bills had been passed and data entered)

That wasn't correct. While the data for more bills had been entered into the "08 Oregon Data" worksheet, I failed to update the count of bills in the "Contents and Summary" worksheet which is the source of my percentages calculation.

The "Contents and Summary" worksheet in the Excel workbook has now been updated to accurately reflect that data for 76% of all appropriations bills is available, leaving data to be entered for 26% of all bills once bills have passed through appropriate committee and data becomes available. All other worksheets in the workbook remain the same.

Friday, July 27, 2007

Oregon FY 2008 Earmarks Reach $470 Million, 18 Times FY 2007 Level, With 45% of Appropriations Bills Still to Come.

Earmarks for the HUD/Transportation bill in both the House and Senate, and the Senate State and Foreign Operations bill have been added to the Oregon FY 2008 earmarks database. With 55% of Committee action on agency appropriations bills completed, Oregon FY 2008 earmarks jumped to $470 Million compared to reported FY 2007 earmarks of $25.73M. Thus, Oregon earmarks for FY 2008 are already 18 times the FY 2007 level, or a 1727% increase in one year.

Download a PDF version of this posting, with a table showing subtotals by Oregon Representative, Senator, and the President here.

Download a comprehensive MS Excel Oregon earmark database with details on ALL Oregon earmarks to date for FY 2008 here.

Saturday, July 21, 2007

HUD Oregon Earmarks:$2.5M; Only 3 of 9 Earmarks are in both House and Senate Bills; Hooley’s first earmark appears.

An analysis of HUD earmarks from the HUD /Transportation bills shows that HUD earmarks total $2.5 M, with the House at $.7M and the Senate at $1.8M.

Of the total of 9 earmarks in the bills, only 3 are found in both bills. The first earmark from Representative from Darlene Hooley has also appeared.

A PDF version of this article, with a table showing all HUD Oregon earmarks , is here.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

FY 2008 Oregon Federal Earmark Costs So Far: Equivalent to a Tax of $246 Per Oregon Household

The latest HUD/Transportation earmarks for Oregon projects pushed Oregon earmarks above $351 Million. To try to put this cost in perspective, I did some research and found that the latest Census Bureau estimate is that Oregon has 1,425,340 households.

Using my fingers, toes, and a calculator, the current cost per Oregon household for FY 2008 earmarks thus now exceeds $246 per Oregon household.

With about 1/3rd of the appropriations bills yet to emerge from Committee, it appears quite possible that the costs of Oregon earmarks could rise close to , or exceed, $300 per Oregon household.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Senate HUD Transportation Appropriations Report Preliminary Review—$93.7M More in Earmarks; $351 Million in FY’08 Earmarks Now Nearly 14 Times FY 2007

Several days after the Senate Appropriations Committee approved the HUD Transportation bill a Senate Report has finally appeared on the web here. (As of this morning , no actual bill was posted but appears that bill number will be S.1789).

A preliminary review indicates that Oregon earmarks total $93.7 Million, bringing the total earmarks to date to Oregon to $350,774 Million, nearly 14 times the FY 2007 level of $25.73 Million.

Oregon earmarks include $750,000 in additional earmarks for a “prototype streetcar “; $500,000 for a Umatilla Fairground Exposition Center, and $80M for South Corridor Portland Mall light rail project.

I have posted a preliminary list of all Oregon HUD/Transportation Senate earmarks as a PDF file here.

Saturday, July 14, 2007

CNN database indicates Walden only OR. Rep to disclose his earmark requests to date—100 requests for $155 Million+; Hooley Has Zero Requests.

According to a database maintained by CNN as of July 13, Greg Walden was the sole Oregon Representative to disclose his list of earmark requests, here. Walden was not shy in his request for 100 earmarks, totaling some $155 Million, WITHOUT an additional significant earmark for “full funding” or county timber payments.

(The CNN database does not yet appear to attempt to capture earmark disclosure status for the Senate , although those requests are to date far higher than Representatives. To see the CNN database for Representatives look for the link with this CNN story here).

In reviewing the exclusive Oregon Earmarks Blog Excel database here, through July 13, Darlene Hooley was the only member of Oregon’s congressional delegation without a single earmark in the two House appropriations bills passed by committees to date.

Friday, July 13, 2007

Update: Senate Energy Water Bill Surges Earmarks to 10 Times 2007 Levels

The Senate Energy and Water Bill has added a total of $170 Million in additional Oregon earmarks.

This "surge" of 59 energy and water projects pushes the total House and Senate Oregon Earmarks for FY 2008 to $257 Million compared to reported FY 2007 earmarks of $25.73M.

Thus, with about 2/3rds of FY 2008 appropriation bills passed, Oregon earmarks for FY 2008 are 10 times the FY 2007 level, or an 899% increase in one year.

Download a PDF version of this posting, with a table showing subtotals by representative, Senator , and the President here.

Download a comprehensive MS Excel Oregon earmark database with details on ALL Oregon earmarks to date for FY 2008 here.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Oregon 2008 Earmarks are Already 235% Higher Than in FY 2007

Oregon FY 2008 Congressional Appropriations Earmarks Total More than $86 Million--$60.4 Million Higher Than the Total in ALL FY 2007 Appropriations Bills

Current FY 2008 Bills to Date: $86.165 Million.
ALL Bills, FY 2007: $25.730 Million.

FY 2008 Appropriations Bills to Date

SENATE: 5 Bills; Interior and Environment, Commerce and Justice, Labor and HHS, Homeland Security, Military Construction /VA.

HOUSE: 2 Bills; Financial Services, Interior and Environment.

House $57,403,000

Senate $26,962,000

Total $86,165,000

Exclusive Oregon Earmark Blog Downloads Available:

1. For a PDF version of this article with an added summary table showing earmarks by individual Representative, Senator, or from the President, go here.

2. Find a new comprehensive MS Excel workbook with pivot tables, and details for all Oregon earmarks, created exclusively for the Oregon Earmarks Blog, here.