By Adam Bitely — In Washington, D.C., Congress holds the distinction of being the least popular group according to the people of the United States. Second only to Congress is the most hated form of government spending — the earmark.
I’ve always wondered why so many people focus their disdain on earmarks more than the larger and more conventional forms of spending. However, I do believe that a healthy skepticism of how Congress manages the money they take from the people is a good thing, no matter if it’s just focusing on the smallest form of Congressional spending.
Congress, convincing people once more that they are possibly the worst managers of other people’s money outside of Obama’s Department of Energy, has now found itself in the public ire once more after a new series of reports from the Washington Post. The Post revealed that the earmarking going on inside of Congress wasn’t necessarily done to benefit the greater good of the congressional district but rather to benefit the members of Congress and those connected to them such as the institutions and companies that employ friends and family of the Members of Congress themselves.
And get a load of this — Congress writes their own ethics code so in essence, if the code said that they could hand out earmarks to benefit friends and family it would completely above board.
Last year, Congress imposed a two year ban on earmarks after it became one of the central issues in the 2010 midterm elections in regards to Washington getting its spending habits under control. According to the Washington Post, “In 2010, the number of earmarks hit a new high: 11,320 worth $32 billion.” That’s no small amount of money.
Getting the earmark ban in place was merely a symbolic move by members of Congress who begrudgingly hinted that they might have a spending addiction. The national debt, which at the time of this writing is $15.34 trillion, is still rising along with the rate of spending in Congress, and far faster than the economy is.
But what should be most troubling to Americans is that the earmarking process appears to have benefited family members of Congressman and women on numerous occasions. This is not a practice that should be punished with a two year moratorium, but a practice that should be permanently banned.
According to the Washington Post report, “Some members of Congress send tax dollars to companies, colleges and community groups where their spouses, children and parents work as salaried employees, lobbyists or board members… A U.S. senator from South Dakota helped add millions to a Pentagon program his wife evaluated as a contract employee. A Washington congressman boosted the budget of an environmental group that his son ran as executive director. A Texas congresswoman guided millions to a university where her husband served as a vice president.”
As George Mason University professor of economics Russ Roberts wrote at his blog CafeHayek.com, “If what is legal becomes the norm rather than what is moral, we are all going to be very poor. The names of these people should be on the front page of the Washington Post every day until election day and their constituents should vote them out of office regardless of what they have ‘accomplished’ with other people’s money.”
Using your political office to direct other people’s money for the gain of your own family is exactly what is wrong with Congress. This mentality is not new, and it is not going away no matter how many temporary bans are put in place. This is how the system is designed, and how it has worked for all of our lives. Perhaps, these reports from the Washington Post will lead to Americans replacing members of Congress who could care less about wasting other people’s money for their own gain while bemoaning cuts to spending on other parts of the federal budget.
Click here to see a full list of the Congressmen that have frivolously wasted your money for their own private gain for the gain of those close to them.
Adam Bitely is the Editor-in-Chief of NetRightDaily.com. You can follow him on Twitter at @AdamBitely.