Cost of Earmarks Totals $4,200,000,000 in FY 2015; Up 56% In One Year

Ali Meyer | May 13, 2015 | 1:25pm EDT
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Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) (AP Photo)

( - The cost of earmarks totaled $4,200,000,000 in fiscal year 2015, which was up 56 percent from the previous year, according to Citizens Against Government Waste’s (CAGW) 2015 Congressional Pig Book.

“The number of earmarks decreased slightly between fiscal year (FY) 2014 and 2015, from 109 to 105, but the total cost jumped by 56 percent, from $2.7 billion to $4.2 billion,” states CAGW, a nonprofit organization dedicated to eliminating waste and fraud in the federal government. “While those figures are far below the record $29 billion in FY 2006, and there are no earmarks for screwworm research or teapot museums, there are some troublesome expenditures.”

CAGW released the report on pork-barrel spending at an event in Washington, D.C., on Wednesday and included speakers: Sens. John McCain (R-Ariz.), Pat Toomey (R-Pa.), Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.), Joni Ernst (R-Iowa) and Rep. Tom McClintock (R-Calif.).

“There is a movement to restore earmarks in the name of being able to pass legislation more easily, i.e. bribe,” said McCain. “If you bribe someone, then they’re more likely to vote for a piece of legislation, because that’s all earmarks are besides being corruption.

“So I want to renew my dedication to opposing the restoration of earmarks, which led to some of the more disgraceful chapters in the history of Congress, including indictment and jail terms,” said McCain. “So I think that anybody who is in favor of returning to earmarks is ignoring the lessons of history, and we obviously should respect more of our elected officials than bribing them with earmarks.”

“Today sheds light on some of Washington’s seemingly unbreakable habits for unacceptable and frivolous spending that crowds out the funding for crucial programs just as Senator McCain talked about our defense budget and crucial spending areas,” said Ernst. “And it shifts the focus off real priorities for our American people. So I do take seriously the responsibility and commitment to ensure taxpayer dollars are spent carefully and efficiently.”

“The Department of Defense (DOD) Appropriations Act usually contains the most earmarks at the highest cost to taxpayers each year, and the FY 2015 bill did not break this tradition,” states the CAGW Pig Book. “While the number of earmarks in the bill decreased slightly from 58 in FY 2014 to 56 in FY 2015, the cost of these earmarks skyrocketed. The $2.3 billion in FY 2015 represents a 43.8 percent increase from the $1.6 billion in FY 2014, and constitutes 54.8 percent of the $4.2 billion in earmarks contained in the 12 appropriations bills for FY 2015.”

“The 2015 Pig Book continues to prove that any earmark is a bad earmark,” said CAGW President Tom Schatz. “At a time when members of Congress from both sides of the aisle and both sides of the Capitol continue to call for a restoration of earmarks, taxpayers should deliver a loud and clear message that it is time for earmarks to be permanently banned.”

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