“Stealthy, out-of-order maneuvers are used to force through unpopular legislative provisions, imposing enormous harm on the American public to benefit corporate donors,” said Robert Weissman, President of Public Citizen. (Photo: Speaker John Boehner/flickr/cc)
Our federal budget should not be filled with earmarks that serve special corporate interests. It is nothing less than political corruption, whereby elected officials pander to their wealthy patrons.
Citizens groups speak out…
‘With hundreds of outrageous policy riders, the 2016 appropriations bills look more like a Christmas wish list for big business than a serious federal budget,’ says Public Citizen.
Citing a lengthy list of “wildly inappropriate” provisions that have been attached to pending U.S. budget proposals, a coalition of 178 groups representing tens of millions of Americans is calling on President Barack Obama and Congress to oppose any federal appropriations bills that include “ideological” policy riders.
In a letter sent Thursday to Obama and members of Congress, the organizations charge lawmakers with inserting controversial and unpopular measures—ones with “little or no connection to funding the government”—into must-pass legislation in order “to serve the narrow interests of particular industries at the expense of public health, safety, workers’ rights, financial security, science, and the environment.”
The missive, which is signed by a wide range of groups including Greenpeace, NAACP, National Organization for Women, Public Citizen, and United Steelworkers, describes such riders as “the new earmarks,” but notes they are even worse in that “they have vastly greater reach and consequence for the American people.”
— Deirdre Fulton, Common Dreams
Examples of Attached Riders
The article above includes the following examples of attached riders, or earmarks. More earmarks that are detrimental to the American public are listed in the letter signed by 178 organizations sent to President Obama and Congress.
- Prevent the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) from updating important air quality standards for ozone and roll back a recently finalized rule that protects clean water;
- Roll back strong net neutrality rules and prevent the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) from enforcing rules that ensure internet openness and affordability;
- Stop the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission from requiring publicly traded companies to disclose their political spending;
- Roll back financial regulations in areas ranging from protections against irresponsible mortgage lending to limits on excessive borrowing by large banks, to undermining the effectiveness of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB); and
- Eliminate any funding for the Title X Family Planning Program, cutting the preventive care—including family planning services, well-woman exams, lifesaving cancer screenings, birth control, and testing and treatments for sexually transmitted infections—that nearly 4.6 million people currently rely on.
In case you’re wondering what, exactly, is an earmark – here’s the definition:
Earmarks are funds provided by the Congress for specific projects or programs in such a manner that the allocation (a) circumvents a merit-based or competitive allocation process; (b) applies to a very limited number of individuals or entities; or (c) otherwise curtails the ability of the Executive Branch to independently manage the agency budget. Thus, an earmark circumvents the appropriations process, as outlined in the Constitution, where Congress grants a lump sum of money to a Federal agency each year and leaves the management of that money to the Executive Branch.
— Kathy Gill, U.S. Politics Expert