U.S. taxpayers now face a $14.4 trillion debt, and the deficit for fiscal 2011 is projected to be $1.6 trillion, the largest in history. Indeed, February’s deficit — at $222.5 billion — was the largest ever recorded for a single month. That figure is only $26 billion less than the entire deficit for fiscal 2006. Overspending has consequences: Ratings agencies have threatened to downgrade the nation’s debt because they are not sure policymakers have the stomach or the backbone to do what is necessary to bring the debt and the deficit down. Failure to act could have dramatic consequences on other nations’ willingness to continue to buy U.S. debt instruments.
If lawmakers’ calls for reviving earmarks are any indicator, there is good reason to worry. It boggles the mind that in the face of such a deep hole and dire consequences, lawmakers want to return to porking up the budget with projects such as wood utilization research, swine odor and manure management, filmmaking in Hollywood, and music education programs at Carnegie Hall.
It is time they stop the shenanigans and end earmarks for real and for good.
Tom Schatz is president of Citizens Against Government Waste.
On January 3, Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y., raises her right hand as her son Henry messes up her hair while Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr., delivers the ceremonial swearing-in in the Old Senate Chamber. Gillibrand's other son Theodore, lower right, looks on.
Each year since 1990, CQ Roll Call has reviewed the financial disclosures of all 541 senators, representatives and delegates to determine the 50 richest members of Congress. This year's report, derived from forms covering the calendar year 2012, shows it took a net worth of $6.67 million to crack the exclusive club.