Saturday, February 16, 2008
Virgil Goode issued a press release this week critical of "earmarks," or line item spending items inserted into bills that may or may not be related to the subject at hand. Goode's release states "I support efforts to press the issue of earmark reform. It is my hope that such efforts will lead to a reduction in federal spending." Virgil apparently is attempting to paint himself as some kind of watchdog of government pork.
But, let's look at the facts. First of all, it's incorrect to paint all earmarks as "pork" -- without earmarks, we'd not have the Washington Children's Hospital, the Human Genome Research Project, body armor for soldiers in the Iraq war, and the Predator drone. Whatever you may think of these projects, they're not "bridges to nowhere."
Earmarks traditionally fund projects in the district of the member of Congress who inserted the earmark. Given that the majority of Goode's district is suffering economically, and could use some sensible projects to kick-start economic growth, shouldn't Virgil be thinking about his district? Sen. Byrd of West Virginia brings home the bacon for his state. Shouldn't Virgil be similarly motivated to help his own district?
Also, earmark spending has gone down under the Democratically-controlled Congress--earmark spending is down by 51% in the 2008 budget as compared to 2006--so Goode's attempts to paint republicans as the fiscally-responsible, transparency-promoting party are disingenuous.
Finally, Goode's the pot calling the kettle black when it comes to earmarks--let's not forget the MZM scandal: MZM gave Goode $46,000 in illegal campaign donations; in return, Goode secured a $3.6 million earmark for MZM. And, just last year, he earmarked $100,000 to develop a walking tour of Boydton, VA.