End to earmarks

Mary Jo Newport

My ire was sparked this morning while reading a CNN.com article, “Obama to lay out guidelines to overhaul earmarks.” In the article Rep. Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) was quoted saying, “I don’t think the White House has the ability to tell us what to do,” in response to Obama’s earmark (aka pork barrel spending) guidelines for future bills.

McCain has respectively spent a lot of effort and time trying to change our broken and shameful system of “voting bribery” that takes place in Capitol Hill in every bill through these earmarks. These earmarks are bad for our country and both President Barack Obama and 2008 presidential candidate John McCain agree this is bad.ÿ

Earmarks are completely unrelated to the bills they are added to, in exchange for support for that bill. For example, in the $700 billion bailout of banks last winter, there was legislation added for $100 billion worth of earmarks, and in return the representatives who added these earmarks voted for the bill. That, in my mind, is voter bribery and is criminal and needs to be stopped. These representatives had gonads to add pork barrel spending to such a controversial, highly publicized bill, but they are so used to doing it that it doesn’t even seem slightly wrong to them.ÿ

No matter what your party affiliation, I can’t see anybody arguing for the continued use of this practice. We all wonder where some of our laws come from and how our money was used in such a bad way (i.e. a bridge to nowhere). This is where the majority of that comes from.

Many of our lawmakers say that it’s a lesser evil to allow the greater good of the bill to be passed. Our lawmakers need to restrict themselves. Our representatives should vote on the legislation in front of them based on the bill’s merits alone. If they weren’t going to vote for it in the first place, then they shouldn’t change their mind because they get a pet project added to the bill.

President Obama is going to try to accomplish restrictions on this practice. I know that he could have taken a stand on the current appropriations bill, but I think we should appreciate the opportunity we have toward future bills. The Republican argument should not halt the restrictions for future bills and they need to jump on board for this cause from here on out.

I hope that you all will get involved and send a letter to President Obama and John McCain that you support these very needed changes. Send a letter to all of your representatives to let them know that it isn’t the White House telling them what to do, as Hoyer put it, but it’s their bosses telling them what to do – We the People! Let these lawmakers know that America put Obama in office to make some changes and even if we didn’t vote for Obama nor agree with some or all of his actions, this is a change we want!

This has been a problem for so many years, and we finally have a chance to do something about this. Please support this effort with your voices; it’s the only way they will hear us!ÿ

Mary Jo Newport is a pre-nursing major and guest columnist for the Daily Kent Stater.