Minnesota Congresswoman Michele Bachmann recently told the Twin City’s newspaper the Star Tribune that she supports the redefinition of earmarks.   Fresh off of campaigns in which members of the GOP pledged to end the system of earmarks, many signed on to a pledge not to use earmarks.  But it didn’t take long for the GOP to start looking for ways around their moratorium.

Bachmann stated “I don’t believe that building roads and bridges and interchanges should be considered an earmark”.  “Advocating for transportation projects for ones district in my mind does not equate to an earmark.”

Lets look at a few of Bachmann’s “transportation projects” and see if you would consider them earmarks or pork barrel spending.

  1. Highway 241 improvement project:  Highway 241 is a 3.5 mile long highway that passes through the city of St. Michael.  It is also known as Central Avenue E and 42nd Street NE in the city of St. Michael.  Not exactly a interstate highway that the federal taxpayers should be concerned with. The funding of a “Highway” that could more accurately be describe as a street in a small town, should be the responsibility of the local or state government, not US taxpayers.
  2. Replacement of small buses in St. Cloud.  That right, federal tax dollars earmarked by Bachmann went to replace city buses in her district.  Sounds like pork to me.

Bachmann’s fears is that in a world without earmarks, these projects won’t get federal funding.  Good!  Maybe we can get back to the original promised purpose of the Federal Highway Trust fund, that is spending federal gas tax revenue on interstate highways, not city streets and buses.  And thats not the worst of it, abuses in the federal highway trust fund results today in a quarter of the total used for nonhighway purposes, including sidewalks, bikeways, recreational trails, and transportation museums.

The backtracking by Bachmann has drawn enough attention to prompt her to fire back with a statement that can be found here at Caffeinated Thoughts.  In it she states: “There is no daylight between my position and Speaker-designate John Boehner on earmarks. Period.” This John Boehner?

So the GOP swears off earmarks, only to seek to redefine them.  It won’t be long before the 112th congress introduces the Constituent Requested  Appropriations Program or CRAP.  The more things change, the more they stay the same…

Note: Constituent Requested Appropriations Program (CRAP) is not original to me, I am quoting Danny Bedwell of Columbus Mississippi.  I’m not sure if it is original to him, but wanted to give credit for the witty line, where credit is due.
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