Utah in Top 13 in nation for earmarks, group says

Apr 19 2010 - 11:08pm

Is U.S. congressional spending pork-barrel politics or bringing home the bacon?

Depending on your point of view, Utah is either the 13th worst or 13th best in congressional earmarking this year, says the group called Citizens Against Government Waste.

The D.C.-based taxpayer organization earlier this month released the 2010 Congressional Pig Book, the group's 20th anniversary listing of pork-barrel spending.

Utah is on a three-year ride up the charts in the Pig Book standings, jumping up from 18th in the 2009 listing.

Sen. Bob Bennett and Rep. Rob Bishop, both R-Utah, were among a large group of federal representatives who received special notice in the annual review of funded projects.

The Pig Book list, released April 15, includes $17,500,000 for 28 projects by Bennett and $69,880,000 for 22 projects by Bishop.

CAGW defines a "pork" project as a line-item in an appropriations bill that designates tax dollars for a specific purpose in circumvention of established budgetary procedures.

A spokeswoman for Bennett's office, Tara DiJulio, said there is "misunderstanding" about earmarks and that they constitute only one-half of 1 percent of total spending.

"The real-world result of eliminating Congress' constitutional authority to direct spending would mean that the Obama administration and Washington bureaucrats would decide whether or not Utah would receive funding for projects such as light rail or water infrastructure instead of local leaders and elected officials who are more informed about Utah's needs," she said.

For Utah's total federal delegation, CAGW lists 99 items for a total of $151,300,000.

Rep. Jim Matheson, D-Utah, had just one of the 99 items with only his name on it.

Matheson, on his House Web site, lists more than 30 earmark requests he has made for the district.

Rep. Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah, had no listed items, but his House Web site lists more than 50 that he requested.

CAGW president Tom Schatz argues the latest Pig Book numbers illustrate that most members of Congress still aren't willing to eliminate the practice and that meaningful reform is necessary.

Schatz said the group uncovered 81 earmarks worth $6.5 billion it believes were funded in circumvention of Congress' transparency rules.

The earmarks were particularly prevalent in the 2010 Defense Appropriations Act, which included 35 anonymous earmarks that were 59 percent of the earmarked tax dollars.

For fiscal year 2011, House Democrats are not requesting earmarks that go to for-profit entities. House Republicans are not requesting any earmarks, although CAGW said there are both exceptions and definitional questions.

"Recent actions in the House to stop funding for-profit earmarks, and the House Republican Caucus' decision to not request earmarks, indicate that politicians from both parties recognize that taxpayers are enraged about the broken spending process in Washington," Schatz said.

"They have noticed that it is popular to posture as an anti-earmarker."

The Senate has rejected any limits on earmarks.

Updated 11:07 p.m.


Utah ranked 13th in pork-barrel spending

Is U.S. Congressional spending pork-barrel politics or bringing home the bacon?

Depending on your point of view ... Utah is either the 13th worst or 13th best in congressional earmarking this year, according to the group called "Citizens Against Government Waste" or CAGW.

The D.C. based taxpayer organization earlier this month released the 2010 Congressional Pig Book, the group's 20th anniversary listing of pork-barrel spending.

Utah is on a three-year ride up the charts in the Pig Book standings, jumping up from 18th in 2009.

Sen. Bob Bennett and Congressman Rob Bishop were among a large group of federal representatives that received special notice in the annual review of funded projects.

The Pig Book list, released on April 15, includes $17,500,000 for 28 projects by Bennett and $69,880,000 for 22 projects by Bishop.

CAGW defines a "pork" project as a line-item in an appropriations bill that designates tax dollars for a specific purpose in circumvention of established budgetary procedures.

A spokesperson for Bennett's office said there is "misunderstanding" about earmarks and that they only constitute one-half of one percent of total spending.

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