Dear Member of Congress,
On behalf of the undersigned organizations and our millions of members and supporters from across the country, we urge you to reject the proposed restoration of earmarks being considered by House Appropriations Committee Chair Rosa DeLauro (D-Conn.) and Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.). Earmarks are one of the most corrupt, inequitable, and wasteful practices in the history of Congress. Dressing them up as “member-directed spending” will not change anything.
Since 1991, according to Citizens Against Government Waste’s Congressional Pig Book, there have been 111,417 earmarks costing taxpayers $375.7 billion, including $67.9 billion since the earmark moratorium was adopted in 2011. In 2006, one year after the 2005 highway bill had $24 billion in earmarks, including the infamous Bridge to Nowhere, appropriations earmarks totaled a record $29 billion. That was also the year Republicans lost the majority in the House of Representatives, followed soon thereafter by the incarceration of members of Congress, staff, and lobbyists as a result of the corruption associated with earmarks.
The inequitable and power-driven distribution of earmarks is demonstrated by the inclusion of the names of members of Congress who obtained earmarks in the appropriations bills during the 111th Congress. The 81 House and Senate appropriators, making up 15 percent of Congress, were responsible for 51 percent of the earmarks and 61 percent of the money. Proponents of earmarks argue that they would promote the passage of appropriations bills in a timely manner, but this is proven false by the fact that appropriations bills have been enacted on time in only four years since the passage of the 1974 Budget Act. In fact, they waste the taxpayers’ money as a form of “legalized bribery,” under which a few million dollars in earmarks are traded for votes in favor of hundreds of billions of dollars in spending. It makes no sense to believe that earmarks, which never constituted more than 1 percent of discretionary spending, would drive or control agreement on the remaining 99 percent of such spending.
Earmarks are a lazy, unfair, and corrupt way to circumvent the authorization and appropriations process. They are not a path to unity; they are a road to fiscal ruin for taxpayers.
The American people have made it clear they want business as usual to end in Washington. Earmarks for teapot museums, indoor rainforests, and bridges to nowhere should not be restored; they should be permanently banned.
Again, we urge you to be fiscally responsible and oppose any proposal to restore earmarks.
President, Council for Citizens Against Government Waste
President, Americans for Tax Reform
President, Americans for Prosperity
President, National Taxpayers Union
President, Club for Growth
President, American Commitment
President, Taxpayers Protection Alliance
President, Taxpayers for Common Sense
Executive Director, Heritage Action for America
President, Frontiers of Freedom
Saulius “Saul” Anuzis
President, 60 Plus Association
James L. Martin
Founder/Chairman, 60 Plus Association
Director, Center on Energy and Environment, Competitive Enterprise Institute
Chief Executive Officer, Alaska Policy Forum
President, Center for Individual Freedom
President, The Heartland Institute
Chair, Maryland Center-Right Coalition Meeting
Chief Executive Officer, Maine Policy Institute