Make us your home page

The Buzz

From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Budget earmarks, love them or hate them, are spread across Florida



earmarks_152475a.jpgThere's a new naughty word in Washington: earmarks.

Earmarks are pet projects lawmakers stick in the federal budget — everything from bridges and roads to sewage treatment plants, public transportation, parks, colleges and for-profit companies like defense contractors. You might know them as pork or bacon, and each year, lawmakers bring home thousands. In the fiscal 2010 budget there were 9,499 earmarks worth $15.9 billion.

After an election year fueled by voter angst over spending, lawmakers returned to Washington pledging a new day. House Republicans quickly voted for a two-year ban. Earmarks are out. Lean, responsible government is in. Sounds great, except the story is not that neat.

For one, the $15.9 billion in earmarks represents one-half of 1 percent of the $3.5 trillion 2010 federal budget. The federal deficit stood at $1.3 trillion. And while decrying earmarks, many lawmakers were ignoring much harder budget decisions, like what to do about Medicare and the whopping defense budget. Or whether to raise taxes. (story here, with links to earmarks for Tampa Bay)

[Last modified: Sunday, December 5, 2010 12:59pm]


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours