House Appropriations Committee Chairman David Obey says he and his staff are so overwhelmed with earmark requests this year, they’re not putting any earmarks into bills until conference committee — at which point rank-and-file members won’t have a chance to offer amendments striking egregious earmarks or eliminating wasteful spending. Today, free-market group Americans for Prosperity offered Obey a helping hand:
Dear Chairman Obey:
I read with interest on National Review Online (NRO) this week that you may only include earmarks in last-minute, un-amendable conference reports, as opposed to amendable House appropriations bills, because you and your staff reportedly need “extra time to evaluate the 36,000-plus earmark requests members have submitted to the Appropriations Committee this year.”
NRO also quotes you as saying: “I think we have a helluva lot more ability [to root out bad earmarks] than the individual working alone.”
Chairman Obey, I share your concern about unworthy projects receiving federal funding due to a lack of careful and thoughtful evaluation, and I agree that one individual working alone would have a very hard time completing this task in a timely manner.
However, I also think that thousands or millions of individual taxpayers working together could greatly aid you in completing your earmark request evaluations before you resort to sticking earmarks into un-amendable final legislation behind the closed doors of a conference committee. That’s why, on behalf of the thousands of Americans for Prosperity members from coast to coast, I’m writing to offer our help to you and your staff in evaluating this year’s earmark requests.
As you know, Internet technology has made research faster and easier than at any previous time in human history. By releasing your 36,000 earmark requests to Americans for Prosperity, our allies in other pro-taxpayer groups and to concerned bloggers, we would be able to unleash taxpayers across the country in a cooperative effort to determine which Members of Congress may have financial conflicts attached to their earmark requests, which local projects may be unworthy of federal funding and which may have value to the taxpayers.
Thank you for your consideration of this matter. The members of Americans for Prosperity — and millions of taxpayers across America — stand ready to help you evaluate these 36,000 earmarks requests. After all, those millions of taxpayers are the ones who are paying for these requested projects – the least we can do is help you evaluate their merit.
Americans for Prosperity
NRO would also be happy to help.