Skip to comments.Ron Paul's Earmarks
Posted on 12/15/2011 10:41:46 PM PST by 2ndDivisionVet
One of the odd things I hear about from time to time from many of my libertarian colleagues and friends is their perception that Texas Republican Ron Paul is a rare model of purity in a political pigsty.
I have many issues of agreement with Paul, particularly on health policy, and I've defended him publicly in the past on many of his calls for government reform. But this perception of Paul as a principled crusader who serves only the Constitution is at odds with his wholehearted embrace of typical pork-barrel politics - a difference which is all the more stark in the wake of House Republicans' voluntary ban on earmarks last year. The record on this is available to the public, but it attracts scant attention.
Paul made over $157 million in earmark requests for FY 2011, one of only four House Republicans to request any earmarks. Additionally, he made over $398 million in earmark requests for FY 2010, again one of the leading Republican House members. These earmark requests include:
$8 million from federal taxpayers for Recreational Fishing Piers.
$2.5 million from taxpayers for "new benches, trash receptacles, bike racks, decorative street lighting."
$2.5 million from taxpayers to modify medians and sidewalks for an "Economically Disadvantaged" area.
$2.5 million from federal taxpayers for a "Revelation Missionary Baptist Community Outreach Center."
$38 million in multiple requests for literacy programs to "encourage parents to read aloud to their children."
$18 million from federal taxpayers for a Commuter Rail Preliminary Engineering Phase (light rail).
$4 million from federal taxpayers for the "Trails and Sidewalks Connectivity Initiative."
$11 million from federal taxpayers for a "Community-Based Job Training Program."
$2 million from federal taxpayers for a "Clean Energy" pilot project.
$5 million from federal taxpayers in order to build a parking garage.
$1.2 million for a "Low-income working families Day Care Program"
$4.5 million from federal taxpayers for a new Youth Fair facility.
All of the above earmarks can be found on Paul's own congressional website. While Paul does not digitize the requests prior to FY 2011, they're still available as PDFs. Paul typically will make the earmark request, but then votes against or abstains from voting on final passage, so he can maintain his claim to have "never voted for an earmark", even the earmark requests he himself made. He defends the practice here.
I'm sure many of these earmarks have a logical rationale behind them. And many of these areas have good lobbyists. But we ought to never put a politician on such a pedestal that we fail to recognize their blemishes. It's better to keep your eyes open about it all.
A) I actually get his argument, it’s not totally crazy. He’s trying to say that the system is not perfect, this money is going out anyway and if his State is in dire need of having a road fixed, he’ll try to get something back.
B) It would take a huge amount of strength of principle to go up against the whole political machine in one’s home State to have $0 in earmarks.
C) Nevertheless, his arguement $0 is the better stand. As close to $0 as possible should be sought, i.e., only if a Federal highway needs repair and the Feds are NOT doing the repair, etc. This stand would mean probably not too many terms in Congress; the local people have to have a steady stream of candidates of their own to keep going up against “professional politician” candidates. Any way a Congressman can cut Federal spending they should, because it is getting to be financial “emergency” time. The same old spending is really creating serious problems. And the only way to get something done is to start. If you never start, you never get it done.
He is a statist.
Just caught a few minutes of Paul in the debate. Nasty little prick isn’t he!
I agree with his reasoning. The Feds steal the money and as a TX congressman he tries to get it back.
When he was my representative, he would stick his earmarks onto bills that he would vote against. He would pay for other people’s votes by voting with the Democrats on some issues, so his earmarks would pass, despite his votes against them.
We figured he was a crank, but he also would never speak against racists (and there are some in south Texas) or truthers.
Thanks for posting
His excuses to why he puts them in are pure bunk (and frankly, he sabotages the ‘purity’ of his own argument by voting against them.)
First, his statement he is just ‘bringing tax money back to the people’ is a laugh considering the deficits we are running. He isn’t bringing the money back to his district, he is helping burden his district (and every other tax payer) with more long term debt. His argument is like saying I am giving you money by buying you goodies on your own credit card.
Second, it is incorrect to say that earmarks do not contribute to the debt, that it would be spent anyway. While it may have already been accounted for in the current budget (because they were put in.. big circle there) DC operates on a system called base-line budgeting. Every year’s budget starts with the following year’s baseline. This means if you don’t spend everything you were budgeted, your baseline drops and so does spending. Paul is helping continue the practice of maximum base-lining where you meet or exceed your budget this year to guarantee the following year’s budget. There is no reward for fiscal responsibility in this pattern, instead, reward goes to those who waste.
Third, it is false to say that if it isn’t spent through earmarks, the President can spend it any way he wants. This is patently false. With two exceptions, the President can’t touch money in the budget. The two exceptions are a specific budget called the Presidential discretionary fund and a part of the defense budget that is tagged for operations that are directly under the control of the Commander in Chief (military operations versus annual budget). He falsely uses the latter of these as the example making people think it applies to all budgets.
Fourth, the claim that earmarks are ‘constitutional’ and if he had his way all budget items would be earmarked. This couldn’t be further from the truth. Not only is there no mention of any sort of spending like we see with earmarks in the Constitution, they fly in the face of our very system. They are spending without legislation. They are extremely deceptive spending where these riders are added to completely unrelated bills and often not even in the bill text that is voted on. This way, a museum may be funded within a transportation bill- but funding for the museum is never voted on. It is just a rider to spend the money for that added at the end.
Of course, if Paul really believed in the intellectual purity of his arguments, he wouldn’t be voting against it. Instead, he is like a thief who wears gloves so his finger prints won’t be on the robbery.
That is about as logical as my stealing your credit card then saying I’m giving it back by maxing it out buying stuff and giving you some of the stuff.
That is a pathetic analogy. Ron Paul votes against the Feds’ taxes so there is no comparison to stealing a credit card.
First, he doesn’t always vote against taxes, that is one of those lies they keep saying over and over hoping it sticks. In reality, he has voted for tax hikes before. For example, this time last year he voted for Nancy Pelosi’s tax hike proposal of the extension of the Bush tax rates (Pelosi’s proposal increased the rates on the top levels).
Second, the way earmarks work, they are not itemized lines in the budget that Congress votes on- they are riders. So it doesn’t matter if he votes against them, he is responsible for them being in the bill. He can’t wear gloves to say he wasn’t part of a robbery because his finger prints weren’t there.
I could be wrong but it sounded to me like he meant that he voted against the very existence of those riders whenever he had the chance to. I was surprised when Cavuto asked him “but what if all 426 congressman voted the way you do?” It didn’t seem to occur to him that if all 426 reps voted out the existence of ear marks there wouldn’t be any.