Earmarks

Senator Patty Murray, chair of the Transportation Appropriations subommittee, and bringer of bacon:

[Murray’s $106 billion transportation and housing appropriations bill] includes $177 million for Washington state, the second-highest amount in projects added by lawmakers. Only New York would get more in so-called earmarks.

In all, the bill includes more than 500 earmarks, totaling about $2 billion, inserted by senators in both parties, according to Taxpayers for Common Sense, a budget-watchdog group based in Washington, D.C.

One of the earmarks, credited to Murray, would provide $1.15 million for Seattle’s South Lake Union Streetcar. The bill also includes $100 million for Sound Transit’s light-rail project.

It’s easy to get incensed about projects like this, but perspecive is key: the earmarks are just under 2% of the bill. Her “haul” for Washington amounts to less than two-tenths of a percent of the total bill.

Earmark reform is compelling, but it’s not going to be the panacea to runaway spending that some would have you believe. To really cut government spending, you’d have to end Social Security, gut Medicare, and probably eliminate the entire United States Air Force. Not. Gonna. Happen.

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