Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.), one in a minority of fiscal conservatives, appeared on C-SPAN Tuesday morning, calling earmarks “circular fundraising.” Taxpayers know exactly how earmarks work—the politico slips funding into one of those “too-long-to-read” bills, slithers over to the corner and enjoys the payback when beneficiaries of the earmark cough up campaign contributions.
Flake came down hard on the recent Defense Appropriations bill. In a news release Monday, Flake cited 1,087 earmarks worth $2.7 billion, with about 540 of those earmarks worth $1.3 billion going directly to private companies without competition. Breaking with tradition, the bill is likely to come up this year under a closed rule, meaning that the House Rules Committee must approve any amendments before they can be debated on the House floor.
In the release, Flake said, “These earmarks receive scant scrutiny by the House Appropriations Committee – the Committee’s markup of the bill lasted all of 18 minutes – so challenging earmarks on the House floor is the only inspection that most of these no-bid contracts will receive.”
On the C-SPAN show, Flake skillfully fielded calls from listeners. When one angry Democratic caller mentioned projects undertaken by President Franklin Delano Roosevelt, Flake reminded listeners he wasn’t around for that vote. Conservative economists revealed the real impact of Roosevelt’s catastrophic big government methods in publications like ‘Great Myths of the Great Depression’ by Lawrence W. Reed.
Flake praised efforts by private sector groups to rein in government spending, noting work done by Citizens Against Government Waste and Taxpayers for Common Sense. TCS echoed Flake's concerns. In a statement, the organization said, "[I]t pays to be generous with the campaign cash. Campaign contributors who gave the subcommittee members $823,000 in campaign contributions raked in 148 earmarks worth $460.9 million (average $3.1 million)."
Among earmarks in the Appropriations bill are more than 70 no-bid contracts for former clients of the PMA Group, a now-defunct lobbying firm currently under investigation by both the Justice Department and the House Ethics Committee.
The Democratic Congress, led by the most extreme factions in the Democratic Party, appears to have abandoned President Barack Obama’s pledge to bring change to Washington.
Rep. Louise Slaughter (D-N.Y.) penned a scathing editorial for Politico, specifically naming Flake as one of two legislators able to get more amendments made “in order on appropriations bills than anyone else in Congress.” A pet cause for Slaughter has involved trying to get the unconstitutional Fairness Doctrine revived. Many conservatives believe that illegal doctrine was aimed at silencing conservative radio analysts. Slaughter is an entrenched Washington insider, having been on the Beltway since 1986.
Slaughter praised the representative conservatives perceive as a left-wing extremist, Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), for her leadership on getting various bills passed in the House. Among them are tobacco regulation and the Climate Change bill which, if passed by the Senate and signed by the president, will increase the cost of virtually every necessity in an American household. The climate bill, based on alarmist positions endorsed by financiers like former vice-president Al Gore, effectively yields economic advantages to China and India.
Flake held nothing back in his release involving “circular fundraising.” He said, “Simply put, members of Congress should not have the ability to award no-bid contracts. Even worse, many times the recipients of these earmarks are campaign contributors. The practice has created an ethical cloud over Congress, and it needs to end.”
Flake has leveled criticism at earmarks like $95,000 for the Carbon County Museum in Rawlins, Wyoming. Fiscal conservatives believe such earmarks usurp powers spelled out in the US Constitution. Local projects not vital to specific areas like defense should be funded by local governments.
One caller to C-SPAN gave voice to the admiration fiscal conservatives have for Flake. “I wish I could vote for you,” she said.
Flake on C-SPAN: Earmark process is "circular fundraising"
The US Report
by Kay B. Day, Jul. 28, 2009