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Tuesday, April 25, 2006

PORKBUSTERS UPDATE: Coburn Offers Citizen's Earmark Tool Kit; Specter Gets Earmark for Client of Aide's Son

Sen. Tom Coburn, R-OK, has added another arrow in his quiver to combat earmarks, a tool kit to help citizens get to the truth about all those tax-paid goodies being hailed by senators and congressmen.

The Earmark Took Kit can be found here on the majority staff web site of Coburn's Subcommittee on Federal Financial Management, Government Information and International Security.

The tool kit includes explanations of how Congress appropriates tax dollars, how earmarks are concealed in obtuse legislative language and reports, definitions of earmarks, links to Coburn's committee hearings, links to news stories on earmarks and other issues related to federal spending abuses and much else.

There is also a wonderful quote from Thomas Jefferson:

"It will be a source of eternal scramble among the members who can get the most money wasted in their State; and they will always get most who are meanest."

Speaking of getting the most and being the meanest, there is also this news in USA Today about how Sen. Arlen Specter, R-PA, used his position and influence to secure a $200,000 earmark for the client of one of his top aide's son.

Specter is among the most powerful GOP Members of the Senate, serving as Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee and a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee. As a member of the latter panel, he chairs a subcommittee that oversees the budgets of the departments of Labor, Health and Human Services and Education.

Those three federal departments are among the most wasteful in the federal government and annually spend billions of tax dollars on research studies, federal building construction, maintenance and leases, and assorted entitlement and aid programs for a variety of special interests.

In short, Specter is in a position to dole out billions of tax dollars to friends, cronies, lobbyists and anybody else with an interest in government funding.

To his credit, however, Specter has more recently begun to respond to public outrage on the earmarks issues. Last year, for example, he stopped allowing subcommittee members to insert earmarks in legislation coming before the panel.

That action was not entirely a response to public pressure, though, because Specter was involved in a dispute with the House over funding issues for the Labor and Health and Human Services departments.