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].