Talk:Earmark (politics)

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Previous discussions without headers[edit]

The total congressional earmarks for fiscal year 2008 numbered 11,780 worth $18.3 billion. This is a 23% cut in earmarks from the high in FY 2005, but falls well short of the 50% reduction House leadership set as its goal earlier in the year.[5]

Citizens Against Government Waste identified 2,658 of the FY08 earmarks representing $13.2 billion as "Pork Projects", significantly lower than the numbers and dollar amounts of recent prior years: 13,997 "Pork Projects" for a total of $27.3 billion in 2005, and 9,963 projects for a total of $29 billion in 2006.[6]

The above statement makes the total earmarks in 2005 $23.76 billion (18.3 divided by .77). The statement below totals just the "Pork Projects" at $27.3 billion. I think an encyclopedia should be consistent in its sources.

Please consider being bold if you can improve the article :-) --Commander Keane (talk) 10:00, 19 September 2008 (UTC)
My understanding is that even though $18 billion sounds like and is a lot of money - it represents less than 1% of the Federal budget. It also represents about 6 weeks of the occupation of Iraq. I think at the very least - earmarks as a percentage of the budget would help to put the problem in perspective - esp. in view of the relentless rants about earmarks by the GOP candidate. (talk) 12:36, 3 October 2008 (UTC)


Can be included some examples ?. --Nopetro (talk) 07:21, 11 March 2009 (UTC)

You mean like how Obama promised that he would never pass a bill with earmarks and he just passed one with 9,000? Daniel Christensen (talk) 17:21, 15 March 2009 (UTC)
Good thinking... political flamebait would improve the article immensely. But that aside... are you referring to this? (talk) 22:21, 22 April 2009 (UTC)

Yes, Nopetro is right: A good example is badly needed! What does an actual earmark look like? Where are they published? Gsmcghee (talk) 04:15, 28 January 2010 (UTC)

Global context[edit]

I've Googled around a little, and checked both OED and Merriam Webster; it seems that using "earmark" as a noun to describe money put aside for a project is not recognised by either, nor is it used outside of the context of US politics. In the rest of the world, journalists frequently talk about various levels of government and large corporations using the verb form (e.g. "BT earmarks rural villages for bandwidth upgrade"; "Cape Town regional government earmarks R900 million for electricity network renovation"), but not as a noun. Also, I think in the US political context the term has come to refer specifically to funds allocated without proper review, although I have yet to see a source for that. I guess it's just a neologism, albeit one that's found use at the highest levels of government in that country.

The upshot is that I've removed the globalize tag - since the term isn't used in this sense anywhere else, there's not really a need to try to deal with it outside the US political context. -Kieran (talk) 22:32, 4 June 2009 (UTC)

That said, I've tagged it with neologism. If neither OED or MW recognise it, that's what it is. Someone really needs to come up with a definition from a reliable source for this. -Kieran (talk) 23:10, 4 June 2009 (UTC)
I agree with this. In practice, an earmark is defined by its critic. As we saw in the budget discussion, nearly every line item of spending that was at all directed in geography or purpose was defined by the minority as an earmark (hence numbers like 9,000 mentioned above). On the other side, you have the Speaker of the House declaring the bill earmark-free because none of the directed spending was anonymously inserted, which is a prerequisite for her definition of earmarks. The topic is clearly of importance in American political discourse and probably deserves an article, but like so many other buzz words its meaning is highly dependent on the agenda of the speaker, and that should be a central theme of the article. Janus303 (talk) 23:09, 25 July 2009 (UTC)

Tagging this as a neologism strikes me as a little extreme. Not only is the term used in US media outlets more or less constantly, a little searching found the following sources defining the term (as a noun):

  • House of Representatives H.RES.6 sec 404, which states:
  •  :"`...the term 'congressional earmark' means a provision or report language included primarily at the request of a Member, Delegate, Resident Commissioner, or Senator providing, authorizing or recommending a specific amount of discretionary budget authority, credit authority, or other spending authority for a contract, loan, loan guarantee, grant, loan authority, or other expenditure with or to an entity, or targeted to a specific State, locality or Congressional district, other than through a statutory or administrative formula-driven or competitive award process."
  • Both the Random House and American Heritage dictionaries

Hope that helps. Cheers! - ClockworkSoul 17:29, 1 August 2009 (UTC)

External links[edit]

Hi, I removed some external links from this article which didn't meet our guidelines, but there were some that were reliable sources which could be used to reference the article. I'll post them below if anybody is interested in using them to build up the article.

ThemFromSpace 22:52, 5 January 2010 (UTC)

Melanie Sloan (CREW) says: Adopting these commonsense reforms would decrease corruption while increasing Americans' confidence in Congress.

5 Principles for Commonsense Earmark Reform 1 Cut the cord between campaign contributions and earmarks by setting a $5,000 limit on earmarks for campaign contributors. 2 Bar legislative staff from fund raising, eliminating the link between campaign dollars and earmarks. 3 Increase transparency by creating a database tracking all earmarks, so the public has one centralized, easily accessible way to examine them. 4 Require the Government Accountability Office to randomly audit earmark-funded projects, to ensure appropriate use of taxpayer money. 5 Insist that members of Congress certify that earmark recipients are qualified to handle the project. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 19:42, 28 September 2010 (UTC)

Missing the real issue[edit]

What people complain about is that earmarks are slipped into bills where the purpose of the bill has nothing to do with the earmark. ie. a Congressman putting in funding of a local museum into a defense bill. Because Congressmen don't want to vote down a whole defense bill and defend that in their campaign, they're forced to accept every earmark everyone has slipped in. That leads to a completely unaccountable process.

When people say 'earmarks are bad', thats usually what they mean. Earmark reform proposals are aimed at limiting that practice, not getting rid of earmarks altogether. —Preceding unsigned comment added by Brianshapiro (talkcontribs) 20:29, 28 October 2010 (UTC)

I suppose that if the words "...and for other purposes" were to be omitted from every Bill, and the concept of a Private Member's Bill introduced (such as in the UK), then the subject of an "earmark" would be open to proper scrutiny. John C Kay (talk) —Preceding undated comment added 19:14, 16 November 2010 (UTC).

Missing is a discussion of the process. Where it states: "...provision that directs approved funds to be spent on specific projects..." I don't know how those funds have been approved. Is the legislation written with a certain dollar amount added up front to cover earmarks? Or is the cost of an earmark added to the bill as earmarks are added? I assume it is the former, since the article also states that "If Congress does not make a specific allocation, the task falls to the executive branch..." If this is so, how does congress know how much to add to the bill for earmarks? — Preceding unsigned comment added by Blaise.Strandquist (talkcontribs) 15:30, 11 February 2012 (UTC)

Removal of Inaccurate Opinion from Introduction[edit]

To say that 'Earmarks may be considered synonymous with "pork barrel" legislation, although the two are not necessarily the same.' is illogical and incorrect. As the statement itself acknowledges, the two are not the same. They are therefore, not "synonymous" (even if "not necessarily the same"); i.e. two things that are not the same are clearly not synonymous and it would be incorrect to consider them to be synonymous. It is not uncommon for politicians to respond to complaints about pork barreling with debate on earmarks. This practice may be considered synonymous with "distraction tactic." The result of these debates has always been the same. Earmarks serve a legitimate purpose. The practice continues. The arguments make my point. Those in favor of preserving earmarks simply provide examples which are not pork barreling. The point here is that such examples provide logical proof that "earmarks" and "pork barrel" are not "synonymous." I also read the page on "pork barrel" and it may need adjustment as well. Pork barreling is not necessarily a matter of bringing money to one's home district; an idea that apparently comes from the confusion over the difference between pork barrel and earmarks. Pork involves intentional waste and fraud, and any funding mechanism may be used to achieve the desired result - extracting public money to the pockets or particular individuals or organizations (or perhaps even merely to the benefit of a specific area or district). Whether or not the con involves players exclusively in a single district or not is irrelevant. Such corruption can even play out with international partners. (talk) 08:04, 5 March 2012 (UTC)

Blatant bias[edit]

'There are also those who opine that "earmarks are good" because they are more democratic and less bureaucratic than traditional appropriation spending, which generally is not tailored to specific projects.'

This statement is highly biased. Democracy isn't an objectivly good thing and, in more cases than not, is a very very bad thing. Claiming that X is good because its democratic is thus very biased. Clearly this type of bias wouldn't stand if someone were to edit a page on Hitler claiming that his actions were good because they are less Semitic. (talk) 21:24, 11 June 2015 (UTC)