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June 19, 2012
This gets us back to the principle that the government must pay us what we are entitled to.
Ramah Navajo Chapter President Rodger Martinez • Discussing the Supreme Court’s decision on Monday to force the government to pay back Native American tribes for money they spent on federal programs. Back in 2000, Congress allocated a $1.6 billion payback to the Bureau of Indian Affairs, but Congress had capped paybacks, so only $120.2 million has been paid back so far. ”We stressed that the government’s obligation to pay contract support costs should be treated as an ordinary contract promise,” Justice Sonia Sotomayor wrote in her majority ruling, released Monday.
10:07 // 2 years ago
March 22, 2012

Study: Nepotism rampant in Congress (duh)

Quantifying Nepotism: Everyone knows (or at least assumes) that politicians use their power to benefit people close to them; that’s old news. However, scientific studies on the matter are hard to come by. The watchdog group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) wanted to change that, and carried out an exhaustive study of the extent to which nepotism manifests itself in US Congress. Their report is 347 pages long; in case you have better things to do with your time (impossible!), here are some takeaways. Note: This study only covered the 2008 and 2010 election cycles.

  • 248 lawmakers used their position to benefit friends or family
  • 3 members of Congress (Bill Cassidy, Jason Chaffetz, and Tim Waltz) used campaign funds to pay for babysitters
  • 38 members earmarked government funds for businesses owned by, or affiliated with, their families
  • 20 legislators took money from their campaign and gave it to a family member’s campaign source

» Miscellaneous: Out of the aforementioned 248 members who warranted inclusion in the report, 105 were Democrats, and 143 were Republicans. Speaker of the House John Boehner is nowhere to be found in the report—but Nancy Pelosi is. Oh, and which member of Congress paid fees or salaries to more of his family members than anyone else? Why, none other than anti-government crusader Ron Paul.

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19:47 // 2 years ago
February 8, 2012
Must-read of the week: The Washington Post’s “Capital Assets” series
In case you haven’t seen this, the Post’s coverage of how members of Congress are directing spending to places where it benefits them personally is pretty impressive. Examples: Sen. Richard Shelby helped push more than $100 million in earmarks to help rebuild Tuscaloosa, Alabama, and much of that money went to nicen up an area directly around an office building he owns in the city, which has risen in property value as development has increased. (Watch the video; it syncs up with a map of Tuscaloosa.) He’s not alone. Congressmen around the country directly or indirectly benefited from millions in spending that, at the very least, might give them a nicer view around their property — or in other cases, benefited their family members. The Post did a lot of great work on this piece, and it shows. source
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In case you haven’t seen this, the Post’s coverage of how members of Congress are directing spending to places where it benefits them personally is pretty impressive. Examples: Sen. Richard Shelby helped push more than $100 million in earmarks to help rebuild Tuscaloosa, Alabama, and much of that money went to nicen up an area directly around an office building he owns in the city, which has risen in property value as development has increased. (Watch the video; it syncs up with a map of Tuscaloosa.) He’s not alone. Congressmen around the country directly or indirectly benefited from millions in spending that, at the very least, might give them a nicer view around their property — or in other cases, benefited their family members. The Post did a lot of great work on this piece, and it shows. source

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10:01 // 2 years ago
January 25, 2011

Earmarks: Obama promises to veto all pork

  • NO Obama won’t sign any bills with earmarks in ‘em source
22:00 // 3 years ago
December 16, 2010

Harry Reid kills omnibus spending bill over earmarks non-issue

  • what Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid’s killing the Senate’s huge, trillion-dollar omnibus spending bill, which would keep the government running through September, in favor of a smaller one.
  • why Complaints about $8.3 billion in earmarks – which we pointed out last night are not a big deal – may make it hard for the bill to pass. It needs to pass by Friday to avoid a government shutdown. source

» Our point still stands: The problem with the bill was not the earmarks. The problem was that it was a trillion dollars, but a few senators have made earmarks the issue, which sucks, because the earmarks are a tiny part of the plan and if they would’ve gone to some random bureaucracy had they not been earmarked for the states.

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20:33 // 3 years ago

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As we’re sure you’ve seen, we’ve been having a bit of a back and forth with chrisjgavin about earmarks and the Senate’s omnibus spending bill. We probably don’t agree with Chris on a lot politically, but on this issue, we’ve come to something of an understanding. Now’s probably a good time to point out the hard work of the Sunlight Foundation, which tries to make the hard-to-comprehend nature of Congress (data is often released in an absurdly cumbersome format that’s basically useless to outsiders) something relatively easy to understand using technology. Above is something specifically about defense earmarks added into the Omnibus spending bill, presented in such a way that you can actually figure out what it’s saying. The Sunlight Foundation does some great light-shedding work and they need to be supported with donations.

1:01 // 3 years ago
December 15, 2010

Tom Coburn making big deal out of relatively small earmark issue

  • $2.2
    billion
    the amount Senator Tom Coburn – the guy who held up the food safety bill – says Senate leaders are putting aside in earmarks; Politico dug these numbers out of his database
  • $1.1 
    trillion
    the size of the total omnibus spending bill the Democrats are trying to push through; just pointing out for comparison’s sake, because it’s good to note source

» OK, Tom, you’ve made your point: Democratic and Republican leaders alike in the Senate are taking a lot of federal money and giving it to the states. But you’re trying to deceive us. Here’s why; see, a trillion dollars is a thousand billion by our last count. And Tom, who’s anti-earmark, is pointing out how wrong it is for Senate leaders to throw roughly two-thousandths of the entire spending bill back to the states, $2.2 billion which would get spent by the federal government otherwise. (The total amount, $8.3 billion, is still absurdly tiny in comparison to the entire spending bill.) To put it another way, Tommy Boy’s trying to make hay out of an issue that’s actually needle-sized. You know what the real problem is? The hay. Not the needle. (And in case you’re wondering, these earmarks were made earlier this year, before the current anti-earmark vibe hit.)

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21:43 // 3 years ago
November 16, 2010
Make no mistake, I know the good that has come from the projects I have helped support throughout my state. I don’t apologize for them. … [but] unless people like me show the American people that we’re willing to follow through on small or even symbolic things, we risk losing them on our broader efforts to cut spending and rein in government.
Sen. Mitch McConnell • Agreeing to support an anti-earmarks moratorium. This is a big deal because just a few days ago, he came out against it. His support shows that the GOP is willing to bend to Tea Party interests. Obama in particular supports McConnell’s decision. “I welcome Senator McConnell’s decision to join me and members of both parties who support cracking down on wasteful earmark spending, which we can’t afford during these tough economic times,” he said. In other news, Robert Byrd is rolling in his earmarked grave. source (viafollow)
10:29 // 3 years ago
November 10, 2010

Republicans fight amongst themselves over killing earmarks

  • agree House Republican leaders want a moratorium on earmarks in the next Congressional cycle. Jim “started the recession” DeMint and other Senators also want them.
  • disagree Many Republicans, however, disagree, arguing that it wouldn’t actually save money. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell is one of those guys. source
10:36 // 3 years ago