Tuesday, January 15, 2008

A lot less pork

I missed this while on hiatus, so forgive me for noting what may be old news to some of you. But after the federal government's fiscal year 2007 ended on September 30, Citizens Against Government Waste toted up the earmarks.

Their conclusion? After hitting a record high of $29 billion in FY 2006 -- the last year under Republican control -- earmarks fell to $13.2 billion, the lowest amount since 1999.

They credit the House Democratic leadership, as well as Republican senators Tom Coburn, Jim DeMint and Jeff Sessions. In other words, divided government. Division keeps costs down by pitting Congress against the president and giving formerly muzzled fiscal conservatives in the Republican ranks freedom to tie Congress in knots rather than allow excessive pork to pass through.

The victory might be temporary, however, inasmuch as it's largely because Congress failed to pass 9 of 11 appropriations bills. When those bills finally pass, they could end up being larded with pork. So we'll have to wait and see what the 2008 number looks like before crediting Democrats (and a handful of Republicans) with restoring some minor measure of fiscal discipline.

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