400 Capitol Street, NW
Washington, DC 20001
- Toll Free 1.888.564.6273
- Local 202.783.3870
Government goes to those who show up. FreedomWorks makes it easy to hold your elected officials accountable in our fully interactive Action Center.
Find activists, groups, and events right in your own neighborhood. Join FreedomConnector to get involved and learn more about key issues threatening our economic freedom. Whether you’re looking for like-minded people, trying to boost your existing group’s impact, or simply trying to stay up on current events, FreedomConnector is the place to start. See what’s happening in your state today!Get Connected
400 Capitol Street, NW
Washington, DC 20001
As Congress continues to negotiate the federal government's budget for this fiscal year, conservatives aren't letting up their campaign against earmarks.
Lawmakers and conservative political activists alike are wailing that the regionally-specific federal spending projects are the hallmark of government waste.
Conservative Republican Sen. Tom Coburn of Oklahoma released his annual Wastebook today, which purports to highlight some of the most wasteful government spending of 2010, including earmarks. The report gives examples of over $11.5 billion in government spending considered wasteful, including a $60,500 earmark for a parachute museum in Dayton, Ohio, and a $350,000 earmark to refurbish a functional, historic clock tower in Rhode Island.
Meanwhile, after Republican opposition to earmarks managed to kill an "omnibus" government-spending bill last week, the conservative group FreedomWorks credited the Tea Party for compelling the Senate to drop the "pork-stuffed" legislation. The bill, which would have funded the federal government through Sept. 30 of next year, included $8 billion worth of earmarks that both Democrats and Republicans had requested. Some of the very same Republicans who requested earmarks in the bill decided to vote against it in the name of fiscal responsibility.
FreedomWorks highlighted some of the "wasteful spending" in the omnibus, such as $413,000 for peanut research in Alabama and $208,000 for beaver management in North Carolina.
With the omnibus bill off the table and funding for government operations about to run out, Congress over the weekend enacted an emergency "continuing resolution" to fund the government for a few more days. On Tuesday, when the emergency bill expires, the Senate will vote to end debate on another continuing resolution, which would fund the government through the beginning of March. The continuing resolution drops some of the significant spending items in the proposed omnibus bill, such as funding to implement President Obama's health care reforms and Wall Street reforms.
While conservatives balk at the billions in earmarks Congress allots each year, others like Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid have argued that earmarks simply represent Congress fulfilling one of its main obligations: directing government spending.
And while "beaver management" in North Carolina may sound like a frivolous pursuit to FreedomWorks, managers at the North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission say it's a necessary and cost-effective federal investment. Beavers in North Carolina cause millions of dollars in damage annually by flooding highways, bridges, agricultural land and other infrastructure.
The Beaver Management Assistance Program (BMAP) depends on resources from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, state wildlife agencies and county governments, as well as modest fees imposed on landowners dealing with beavers, to mitigate that damage. In 2008, BMAP saved the government and landowners approximately $4.75 million in resources from prevented beaver damage.
"It's probably one of the best examples of federal government, state government, and private citizen partnerships that I could draw attention to," Brad Gunn, a biologist with the Resources Commission, told Hotsheet.
Gunn said the fact the federal government and private landowners, as well as local governments, all have a vested interest in the project makes it that much stronger. What's more, the federal government already has a mandate to handle animal control on infrastructure, Gunn said, so arguing over giving the program federal money is something of a moot point.
As Hotsheet has previously noted, the entire debate over earmarks is something of a red herring, since earmarks do not create new spending, but simply say specifically how government budgets should be spent.
However, that hasn't stopped 2012 congressional candidates from slamming their incumbent opponents for earmark requests, the Hill reports.
As Congress continues to negotiate the federal government's budget for this fiscal year, conservatives aren't letting up their campaign against earmarks. Lawmakers and conservative political activists alike are wailing that the regionally-specific federal spending projects are the hallmark of government waste.
The White House claims that President Obama's administration will be "the most open and transparent in history," and announced on Friday it will convene a conference on March 12 to ensure "transparency" in the way money from last month's massive spending bill is distributed.
This would be a change from the secretive way that bill rocketed into law. As a candidate for office, Mr. Obama promised he would "not sign any non-emergency bill without giving the American public an opportunity to review and comment on the White House website for five days."
That didn't happen. The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, better known as the stimulus bill, was approved by the Senate on a Thursday. Mr. Obama signed it on a Monday, just three days later.
Mr. Obama also signed the CHIP (Children's Health Insurance Program Reauthorization) bill and the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act without waiting the promised five days.
Were those all "emergency" bills? Probably not. Even the Democrat-controlled Congressional Budget Office estimates that only 8 percent of the "stimulus" spending comes in budget year 2009. If setting government spending levels in 2010, 2011, and 2012 qualifies as an emergency, it's hard to imagine what doesn't.
This came after Speaker Nancy Pelosi and other House Democratic leaders rushed the 1,027-page stimulus conference report to a vote and gave their colleagues only hours to read it. (A few days earlier, the House had unanimously approved a non-binding, pro-transparency measure that assured members they would have 48 hours to read the bill.)
Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D-N.J.) told CNSNews.com that none of his Senate colleagues would "have the chance" to read the final version before the vote. A Rasmussen Reports poll conducted at the time found that only 24 percent of respondents believed Congress will understand what they're voting on.
For an administration that promised to be the most "transparent in history," and for a House speaker who promised the "most open" Congress in history, this may not be the most auspicious beginning.
Before taking office, Mr. Obama promised new openness in the presidential transition, saying "you can track these meetings" his transition staff had with groups seeking to influence policy. A "Your Seat At The Table" memo said: "This scope is a floor, not a ceiling, and all staff are strongly encouraged to include additional materials."
That never happened. Although Mr. Obama did disclose documents submitted to the transition staff, his Web site never provided a list of meetings with the names of groups and identities of participants.
Instead, only a list of documents submitted was made public -- meaning that if a meeting took place between the transition team and outside groups and no documents were exchanged, it remains secret. (On the other hand, Obama did disclose donors to the inauguration, and posting the list of documents was more than his predecessors did.)
An article about transparency posted on the Web site of the Columbia Journalism Review in January argued: "During the campaign, reporters' access to Obama was severely limited. On-the-record conversations with the candidate were even more so. Indeed, Obama's overall treatment of the press—not just in his general rejection of the day-to-day news cycle, but also in his tendency to shun his national traveling press corps... created the impression that its members were, to him, a buzzing nuisance. Instead of the voice of the people." And Politico.com noted that the president agreed to disclose contacts between his staff and then-Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich's office, but stopped short of releasing e-mails or other details about those contacts.
It has been left to the Republicans to reshape themselves as the pro-transparency front. During last month's debate over the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act bill, an alliance of largely conservative groups including the Heritage Foundation, Grover Norquist's Americans for Tax Freform, and Dick Armey's FreedomWorks created a Web site called ReadTheStimulus.org.
That represents something of a turnabout for many of these groups, which were not uniformly outspoken advocates of government openness under President George W. Bush (whose administration has been accused of being the most secretive since President Nixon's).
The month after Mr. Obama was elected, the Heritage Foundation was already repositioning itself as pro-transparency. But it was less enthusiastic about the topic when the Patriot Act was being debated in 2001; Rep. Barney Frank (D-Mass.) said at the time that "what we have today is an outrageous procedure: A bill, drafted by a handful of people in secret, comes to us without a committee review and immune to amendment." (Heritage remains an ardent supporter of the 2001 law.)
In fairness to Mr. Obama's White House, it said in a blog post last month that a five-days-before-signing policy will "be implemented in full soon." In the meantime, another pro-transparency option might be to support the Read the Bills Act, which would require both chambers of Congress to read aloud the complete text of proposed laws and post the text on the Internet a week before the vote.
The White House claims that President Obama's administration will be "the most open and transparent in history," and announced on Friday it will convene a conference on March 12 to ensure "transparency" in the way money from last month's massive spending bill is distributed.This would be a change from the secretive way that bill rocketed into law. As a candidate for office, Mr. Obama promised he would "not sign any non-emergency bill without giving the American public an opportunity to review and comment on the White House website for five days."
<p>Did you know political operatives have legacies? </p>
<p>I didn’t. I thought presidents and statesmen and stateswomen had legacies, not consultants. Now I know I was misguided thanks to a front page story in The Washington Post headlined,“Midterm Vote May Define Rove’s Legacy.” Good to know that the hometown paper of politics and government is keeping its eye on the prize the week before the election. Real insiders know aides are more important than principals, and priniciples. </p>
<p>Not be thoroughly snarky, I will say that the Post’s Sunday Outlook section had an interesting, candid piece called ”Where We went Wrong” by former Republican majority Leader Dick Armey. “Republican lawmakers forgot the party's principles, became enamored with power and position, and began putting politics over policy,” Armey wrote. “Now, the Democrats are reaping the rewards of our neglect -- and we have no one to blame but ourselves.”
<p>Did you know political operatives have legacies? </p> <p>I didn’t. I thought presidents and statesmen and stateswomen had legacies, not consultants. Now I know I was misguided thanks to a front page story in The Washington Post headlined,“Midterm Vote May Define Rove’s Legacy.” Good to know that the hometown paper of politics and government is keeping its eye on the prize the week before the election. Real insiders know aides are more important than principals, and priniciples. </p>