The annual 2018 Congressional Pig Book is out, and as always, it’s disappointing to see what the nation’s elected representatives are doing behind closed doors in smoke filled rooms when no one is watching.
Released each year by Citizens against Government Waste, the examination of congressional use of earmarks finds a 42.3% increase over last year, costing taxpayers an additional $14.7 billion. That’s nine times higher than the increase in discretionary spending.
Congress enacted a moratorium on earmark spending in 2011, yet at the current level we’re set to surpass the record set in 2006.
“We’re kind of remarking that this is the year the dam has burst. Earmarks more than doubled this year to $14.7 billion. It was $6.8 billion last year,” says Sean Kennedy, Research Director for Citizens against Government Waste.
He says defense spending, always the biggest percentage of the budget, also includes some questionable expenses that are neither wanted nor needed. “$593 million for the M1 Abrams upgrade. This is a tank that the Pentagon has said that they don’t need any more of, that they don’t need any more to be upgraded,” says Kennedy. There is also another increase in purchases for the troubled and haplessly over-budget F-35 aircraft program, still in its experimental stage and once completed expected to become the most expensive weapons program in all of history at more than $1 trillion.
Other areas are more frivolous.
“There’s $65 million for the Pacific Coastal Salmon Recovery Program. This is the largest ever earmark for this program. Two years ago it was $15 million so it’s really a significant increase,” Kennedy says of lengthy project affecting the Pacific Northwest to study fish. There’s another $660,000+ to explore ways to eradicate the brown tree snake.