In 2006, Congress allocated a record $71.77 billion “to 15,832 special projects, more than double the $29.11 billion spent on 4,155 pork-barrel projects in 1994.” In 2005, Congress inserted 15,877 pork projects into spending bills. In his weekend radio address, President Bush called on Congress to reform this earmarking process:
[O]ne of the best ways we can impose more discipline on federal spending is by addressing the problem of earmarks. … My administration will soon lay out a series of reforms that will help make earmarks more transparent, that will hold the members who propose earmarks more accountable, and that will help reduce the number of earmarks inserted into large spending bills.
Pork is a problem. But Bush should also address reform in his own administration. Bush’s earmarks are much tougher to find, often appearing “only in closely held supplements separate from the public budget books. … [A]s head of the executive branch, the president often doesn’t need earmarks: Once federal agencies get funding from Congress, his appointees are fairly free to steer sums to places, programs and vendors as the administration decides.” A few examples of Bush’s bacon:
— “While the Education Department’s budget would be cut, Mr. Bush propose[d] a 16% increase to $204 million for teaching sexual abstinence in high schools, a popular cause for social conservatives.”
— Rep. Anne Northup (R-KY), “a target of Democrats in this year’s midterm elections,” secured “a $3.5 million research grant for a local surgical team. The funds came not from congressional earmarks but from Pentagon accounts, according to the report.”
— Bush requested “$10 million for Preserve America grants for communities’ historic preservation efforts and $50 million for the Helping America’s Youth Initiative — also among programs championed by Mrs. Bush.”
Bush may say he’s against pork, but in his six years as President, Bush has never once vetoed any of Congress’s pork-laden spending bills.