Friday, December 30, 2011

In the 'Battle of the Ricks' Earmarks Return as a Campaign Issue

A Rick Perry sponsored ad airing in Iowa attacks Rick Santorum for his record on appropriations earmarks. This conincides with an apparent Santorum surge in Iowa.

Perry highlights Santorum's vote in favor of the transportation funding bill that included the infamous "bridge to nowhere" project. Perry claims that Santorum was responsible for $1 billion in earmarks over his 16 year congressional career.

The Perry ad includes an audio clip of Santorum touting his earmarks: "I have had a lot of earmarks...In fact I'm very proud of all the earmarks I've put in bills."

By attacking Santorum for earmarking Perry is unearthing a tactic he used successfully against Kay Bailey Hutchinson in the Texas GOP Gubernatorial primary. During that campaign the Perry campaign produced a video/song based on ABBA's "Dancing Queen" titled "Earmark Queen" to criticize Hutchinson for her earmarks. (The lyrics are here; the video was quickly removed from the web due to potential copyright infringement).

Earmarks are a convenient device that can be used to highlight the "Washington insider" status of politicians like Hutchinson and Perry's current foe, Santorum. Perry and Santorum are competing for many of the same religious conservatives, and Perry would likely benefit from Santorum's defectors. Perry might decide to employ the same tactic against Michelle Bachman who also has appeal to religious conservatives and, like Santorum, can be tied to at least one specific earmark-like project. Bachmann's latest problems in Iowa may be enough to obviate an attack on her.

Earmarks are an easy device for governors to employ.  They do not have a direct hand in generating earmarks, allowing them to distance themselves from the projects, while benefiting from the results. Without a doubt Texas was a big winner in the earmark race. According to Taxpayers for Common Sense data for 2010 alone, Texas benefited from $1.9 billion in earmarks.

In a single year Rick Perry's state received almost twice the amount in earmarks that Rick Santorum generated in his entire 16 year congressional career. But, like Sarah Palin before him ("I said 'thanks but no thanks' to that bridge to nowhere"), Perry can claim that he opposes earmarks because his fingerprints are not directly associated with the earmarks, even though his state was clearly a beneficiary.

One can only wonder how much the "Texas Economic Miracle" benefited from the investment of federal dollars, including those that went to the state via earmarks.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

That's an Earmark?!

In an desperate attempt to remain relevant in a world without earmarks Citizens Against Government Waste is releasing reports of "earmarks" in appropriations bills for FY 2012.

When the Republicans regained the majority in the House they reinstituted a ban on earmarks. The Democratically controlled Senate resisted, but eventually relented and adopted the same approach. Watchdog groups that raised money by getting people riled up over earmarks began getting nervous, no doubt; what would fuel their fundraising pleas?

It is a good thing that they define earmarks so broadly as to encompass any change in spending over the president's budget request. While CAGW lauds the Senate for reducing overall spending they accuse the Senate Labor, Health and Human Services Appropriations Subcommittee including 16 earmarks in this year's bill. According to their release analyzing the Senate Labor-H bill:
The following are examples of pork added by the Senate to the Labor/HHS bill:
  • $111,779,000 for programs to prevent substance abuse.
  • $42,914,000 for the Teacher Quality Partnership program (TQP).  A March 2011 Government Accountability Office report that analyzed duplication within the federal government found that the TQP is one of 82 redundant teacher training programs.
  • $14,918,000 for rural hospital flexibility grants.
  • $6,990,000 for the Rural Community Facilities program.
  • $998,000 for the Training for Realtime Writers program, which provides grants to institutions of higher education to create programs to train closed caption writers.
In another release they claim that the Transportation, Housing and Urban Development bill contains 7 earmarks, including increased spending on rail projects.

Imagine that: The Senate has the audacity to disagree with the president. You would think that the Senate thought of itself as equal to the president! How dare they.

We are being sarcastic, of course.

It is worth pointing out that prior to the Budget and Accounting Act of 1921 the Congress--consistent with the US Constitution--had sole responsibility for constructing the federal budget. The Budget Act directed the executive to propose a budget but, since it is not a Constitutional Amendment, it did not rob the Congress of the "power of the purse," it did give the executive a handy tool for shaping the budget debate.

We oppose the earmark moratorium. We argue that the moratorium has achieved nothing.

These spending proposals are not earmarks. They are Congress asserting its Constitutional prerogative to have a hand in deciding the policy priorities of the country. We need to be careful. We may find one day that CAGW has defined Congress out of existence.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Epic Fail: The Earmark Moratorium Solved Nothing

During the 2010 election season criticism of earmarks reached a fever pitch. Candidates running on the political right declared that earmarks were the source of most of our evils.

Arch earmark opponent Senator Tom Coburn cast earmarks as a "gateway" to big spending. Following the 2010 elections Senator John McCain, a long time foe of earmarks, said that “The time has come for Congress to put a stop to the corrupt practice of earmarking once and for all.”
Critics of earmarks argued that eliminating earmarks would be a step toward balancing the budget and restoring confidence in American political institutions. As it turns out eliminating earmarks has achieved neither objective.

According to a new Gallup poll  “Americans now estimate that the federal government wastes 51 cents on the dollar, a new high since Gallup first began asking the question in 1979.” This is the first time since Gallup began asking this question back in the late-1970s that the estimated percentage of waste exceeded 50%.

So the budget deficit remains despite the moratorium on earmarks. And people are now convinced that government wastes more money than they thought when earmarks were included in appropriations bills. Nice work.

We have long argued that the earmark hysteria was concocted to promote the political fortunes of certain politicians, and increase contributions to "watchdog groups." On numerous occasions we have argued that the brouhaha surrounding earmarks was mostly about generating soundbites. This blog and our book Cheese Factories on the Moon are aimed at promoting a full understanding of earmarks.

Now comes a news release from watchdog group Taxpayers for Common Sense in which they finally admit that the bluster about earmarks was more about generating public ire than promoting serious budget savings. In a recent release the organization says, “... congressional earmarks were $15.9 billion in fiscal year 2010 -- less than half of 1 percent of the budget. Good sound bites don't always equal big savings.”

This political donnybrook over earmarks would be unremarkable but for one fact: The elimination of earmarks is bad for American democracy.
  • The moratorium robs the ability of members of Congress to adapt national programs to address the unique problems and concerns of their constituents. It is left to the bureaucrats in the executive branch to prioritize spending.
  • In the absence of earmarks Congress is unable to substitute its own judgement for that of the executive branch. We have pointed out here how projects like the Predator Drone, the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center, and other projects were pushed by Congress before they were adopted as good ideas by the executive branch.
  • In the coming months members of Congress will need to make painful decisions about future  government spending. In the past earmarks served as the "spoonful of sugar" that helped soothe these bitter choices. In our system, which relies on compromise, earmarks made compromise easier to swallow. Congressional leaders no longer have this tool at their disposal. The earmark moratorium makes finding common ground much more difficult.
    A strong Congress was a critical component of the Founders' institutional design. Granting the Congress the "power of the purse" was a conscious decision meant to bolster the power of Congress and promote the interests of the people through their elected representatives.

    The current moratorium has not delivered on its promises and is harmful to the Congress-centered nature of American democracy. As the kids say these days: Epic Fail.

    Friday, July 8, 2011

    Bi-Partisan Praise for Cheese Factories on the Moon

    Cheese Factories on the Moon is a refreshingly candid book...I chuckled, nodded affirmatively, and in a few instances disagreed.  But it needed to be written...I will cite the book when I discuss the issue. --Representative Connie Morella (R-MD)

    Monday, May 23, 2011

    Praise for Cheese factories on the Moon

    We received this via email over the weekend. We thought we'd share:
    "I've just finished reading 'Cheese Factories on the Moon.' You and Scott Frisch have successfully married the benefits of academic expertise and political have added an untold and necessary chapter to the big story about congressional appropriations. Without reservation, this book should be required reading for every course on Congress; it also should be on the desk of every media analyst in the country."
    Representative Glen Browder (D-AL)

    Friday, May 13, 2011

    Jeff Flake: Giant Killer

    In 2008 arch-earmark-foe Representative Jeff Flake (R-AZ) initiated a full court press for his assignment to the Appropriations Committee. Supporters circulated an internet petition supporting his request. Despite a spirited fight, Flake was not assigned to the committee. He and his supporters attributed his failure to resistance from earmark defenders.

    In the wake of the 2010 election, with the Republicans riding a wave of voter discontent fueled, in part, by disdain for earmarks, and with appropriators on their heels, Flake once again made a run at an appointment to the Appropriations Committee. Making his closing argument for an appointment in an Op-Ed in The Washington Post  Flake argued that earmarks were distracting the Appropriations Committee from its role as guardian of the Treasury:
    Those who view earmarking as an expression of the "congressional prerogative" sell Congress short of its preeminent role as the first branch of government. As the defenders of earmarking are fond of saying, earmarks represent less than 2 percent of all federal spending. Precisely! By focusing on a measly 2 percent of spending, we have given up effective oversight on the remaining 98 percent.[1]
    Flake argued that the committee, by focusing its efforts on earmarks, fails in the larger effort to closely scrutinize the more costly and more important expenditures. In the same Op-Ed he concluded that,
    Without the earmark distraction, Congress can return to the deliberative process of authorization, appropriation and oversight, thus reining in spending abuses of the administration rather than simply piling on with spending abuses of our own.
     In an Appropriations Committee oversight hearing on Wednesday Flake attacked the National Endowment for the Arts for making grants worth a few hundred thousand dollars to a mime company in San Francisco and supporting an accordion festival.[2]

    Those who supported Jeff Flake’s holy war on earmarks should be rolling their eyes, but we suspect they are not. Is this what Flake’s rebellion has become? Shifting the focus from a few silly-sounding earmarks to a few silly-sounding federal grants? Is this how Flake intended to wield the potent appropriations oversight power all along?

    Or, perhaps Flake intends to go through the federal budget with a very, very, very, very fine-toothed comb.

    The other irony here is the claim by earmark foes that expenditures determined through competitive, peer-reviewed, bureaucratic processes are superior to earmarks. The mimes and accordionists were funded using the competitive bureaucratic process boosted by earmark critics, yet they produced silly-sounding expenditures.

    The fact is that many specific government expenditures, taken in isolation, sound silly. Case in point: recently the Department of Defense released a request for bids to repair a Koi Fish Pond at Travis Air Force Base in California. That sounds pretty silly to us.[3] And when silly sounding expenditures are brought to their attention, the media takes the bait every time.  But they miss the broader implications. In the debate over earmarks the media consistently reported on the silly-sounding earmarks; but they missed the larger debate about the congressional power of the purse and the ability of members of Congress to adapt broad federal programs to the needs of their states and districts. In this case the argument is not about a few silly-sounding grants, but whether the National Endowment for the Arts should continue to exist and receive funding. That is the argument on which the media should be reporting, and that is a debate that all Americans should have a voice in. 

    Let’s be clear about the fiscal stakes.  Mr. Flake is focusing attention on a couple of grants that amount to a few hundred thousand dollars.  The total National Endowment for the Arts budget request for fiscal year 2012 is about $146 million, or less than one third of the amount this country spends on military bands in a year.[4]   Elimination of the entire National Endowment for the Arts would not make a dent in a deficit of $1,480,000,000,000. 

    However, focusing the public’s attention on a few well chosen examples of “wasteful” spending will only contribute to creating the false impression that the budgetary imbalance is the result of wasteful spending and that balancing the federal budget can be easily accomplished. The public’s lack of understanding of the composition of the federal budget is well known, and it is easy to convince voters that silly spending is the root of our budgetary problems. 

    Instead of focusing attention on the pittance we spend on mimes and accordion festivals, Mr. Flake might consider following Willie Sutton’s advice.  When asked why he robbed banks, Sutton famously replied “because that is where the money is.”  The money in the federal budget is in the Department of Defense, entitlement programs, and the flip side of earmarks, targeted tax breaks (known in Washington as tax expenditures).  If Mr. Flake truly cares about addressing our fiscal imbalance, he would be best to look to these programs instead of continuing to garner media attention by highlighting alleged waste in minuscule programs, the elimination of which will do nothing to solve the problem, but will only serve to promote anti-government feeling among an already cynical American public.  
    [1] Jeff Flake, “An earmark fight Congress doesn't need,” November 12, 2010.

    [2] Erik Wasson, “GOP blasts NEA grants to 'Frisco mimes, accordion festival” May 11, 2011

    [3] Repair Coy (sic) Fish Pond, Solicitation Number: F3ZT911081A002-PondRepair, Agency: Department of the Air Force, Office: Air Mobility Command, Location: 60th CONS

    [4] Walter Pincus. “Defense Department spends $500 million to strike up the bands” The Washington Post. September 6, 2010.

    Monday, May 9, 2011

    Earmarks for the ages…

    Long lost records from the Senate Appropriations Committee, in a story on the blog Booktryst. The records, contained in bound volumes discovered by a Northern California rare book collector, cover the years 1870 through the early 1900s. According to Stephen Gertz:

    The ledgers, written almost exclusively in pen - both black and red ink – with some entries and notations in pencil, enumerate the annual appropriations for:
    I. Agriculture, Army, Fortifications, Pensions, Post-Office, 1870-1909.
    II. Diplomatic, District of Columbia Appropriations.
    III. Legislative Appropriations, 1870-1901.
    IV. Military Academy, Naval Appropriations, 1870-1909.
    V. Sundry Civil Appropriations, 1870-1901.

    Even a quick glance at the few high quality photos of individual pages at the Booktryst site reveals that earmarks are not a recent phenomenon. If one accepts the typical definition of an earmark (an expenditure targeted for a specific purpose in a specific location) then each page of these ledgers is replete with earmarks. Take for instance the provision on this page (right) for the Navy Yard at Mare Island, California (that’s a pretty specific location!). Among the specific expenditures indicated is a cottage for the electrician, navy yard roads, and a shed over the galvanizing plant (those are some pretty specific projects!).

    The moral of the story is that when money is appropriated it must be spent somewhere and it must be spent on something. From the beginning of the Republic Congress assumed its responsibility under Article I, section 9 of the constitution to appropriate funds. How did it accomplish this? By allocating geographic and project specific expenditures as is illustrated in these ledgers. Earmarks are not “new,” they are as old as the Republic and, practically speaking, necessary.

    The “criminalization” of earmarks by groups like Taxpayers for Common Sense and the media seriously undermines what was historically a congressional power aimed at vesting the “power of the purse” in the institution most directly accountable to the people. Advocates of banning earmarks are at odds with our Republican principles and, as these documents illustrate, at odds with our history.

    Friday, April 22, 2011

    Oh the irony...

    Predator Drone: A flying earmark
    On April 21st President Obama authorized the use of the Predator Drone to aid NATO forces in their efforts in Libya. The pilotless drone is controlled remotely. The Predator and has proven useful in Afghanistan, Iraq, and Pakistan; it has become a weapon of choice for the US Military. According to Vice Chair of the Joint Chiefs General James Cartwright:
    What [Predators] will bring that is unique to the conflict is their ability to get down lower, therefore to be able to get better visibility on targets that have started to dig themselves into defensive positions…They are uniquely suited for urban areas. [link to full story]

    Today media outlets are reporting that John McCain is in Libya. According to the Voice of America McCain’s visit is aimed at gaining recognition of the Libyan rebels, and encouraging the U.S. to take a larger role in the conflict. McCain is quoted saying:
    I came here to get an on the ground assessment of the situation….We are meeting with the [rebel transitional] council, we’re meeting with the military, we’re meeting with lots of people. The [rebel fighters] are my heroes.

    By authorizing the use of Predators in the Libyan conflict Obama has, at least partially, granted McCain’s wish that the US provide more support for the rebels. Obama’s decision also made McCain’s trip possible by ensuring that the Senator is free from danger during his visit to Benghazi.

    The irony is that the Predator Drone began its life as an earmark, the kind of congressionally directed appropriation against which Senator McCain has led a holy war. McCain often challenged fellow Senators’ earmarks on the Senate floor. In fact, his antipathy toward earmarks was a centerpiece of his presidential campaign.

    Oh the irony: John McCain being protected in Libya by the robotic love-child of an earmark.

    Wednesday, March 23, 2011

    Tsunamis and Robots and Earmarks (oh my!)

    The Japanese earthquake and resulting tsunami devastated the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant two weeks ago. Lacking power to the cooling systems, concern about the integrity of the nuclear rods is in question. Repair crews dare not risk approaching the cooling ponds to assess the situation for fear of radiation exposure, while low levels of radiation are beginning to affect the region. Without extensive repairs the power plant could turn that part of Japan into a virtual wasteland.

    Enter the robots. MSNBC reported Monday that Japan Ground Self Defense Forces requested robots from iRobot (Bedford, Massachusetts)—two each of the 510 PackBot and 710 Warrior models—to help survey the environment in and around the plant. These “battle tested” robots were developed to assist combat troops in Afghanistan and Iraq to assess suspected explosive devices and explore caves and other areas where enemy troops might be located. According to an NPR story “Once the robots get inside [the nuclear plant], they might use their cameras to inspect the condition of the containment vessels around the reactors or take samples to check the radiation levels.”

    Last week we highlighted the role earmarks played in the National Tsunami Hazard Mitigation Program that helps to provide early warnings and disaster preparedness for the states of the Pacific West.

    This week we point to another earmark-related irony of the Japanese disaster: The defense related iRobots that will be used in Japan were developed with the support of earmarks requested by members of the Massachusetts congressional delegation. According to public sources the company received $2,000,000 in 2008 alone to help develop the Warrior model that will now be used in Japan to help address the nuclear crisis.

    Often maligned by reporters as “parochial” and characterized as “pet projects,” earmarks often result in technologies that help Americans and people around the world respond to difficult challenges. Another one of those programs the Pentagon “didn’t want” –like the Predator Drone—has become an important tool for addressing defense and non-defense-related challenges. Earmarks can provide an important countervailing force to the not-so-always-perfect judgment of executive branch experts who often dismiss nascent technologies.

    Tuesday, March 15, 2011

    Tsunamis and Earmarks

    The Tsunami Warning Center in Hawaii
    The massive earthquake in Japan and the resulting tsunami activity in the Pacific reminds those who live in coastal communities of the sudden, awesome, and deadly power of nature. Tsunamis in 1946, 1960, and 1964 killed hundreds of Americans in coastal states; a large earthquake in 1992 off of California’s coast caused concern that tsunamis might make the West Coast vulnerable to even larger, more destructive, and more deadly tsunami events.

    In 1994 Congress directed the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration to lead an inter-agency effort to promote tsunami awareness and preparedness effort. The effort joined the U.S. Geological Survey and the Federal Emergency Management Administration with the state emergency management agencies in Alaska, California, Hawaii, Oregon, and Washington. In 1997, as a result of the initial leadership of Senator Mark Hatfield (R-OR) (the by-then-retired Chair of the Senate Appropriations Committee) on the issue, an initial earmark of $2.3 million established the National Tsunami Hazard Mitigation Program (NTHMP).

    Predictably, anti-earmark crusader Senator John McCain (R-AZ) took to the Senate floor in July 1997 to “object strenuously” to the inclusion of, denounce, among other projects included in an appropriations bill, including the earmark for the National Tsunami Hazard Mitigation Program. McCain specifically objected to “$2.3 million to reduce tsunami risks to residents and visitors in Oregon, Washington, California, Hawaii, and Alaska.”[1]

    A coastal community overwhelmed, 2004

    In 2004 more than 200,000 people were killed by the Indian Ocean Tsunami. The specter of a similar disaster occurring in the U.S. pushed the Bush Administration to support the Tsunami Warning and Education Act of 2006. In effect the Act endorsed and built upon the foundation laid by the NTHMP through a series of earmarks over the course of a decade. In the absence of the extensive interagency and state-federal partnerships forged by the earmark-supported NTHMP the U.S. would have been caught flatfooted by the recent tsunami. Instead coastal communities on the West Coast awoke to tsunami warnings and at-risk communities were evacuated preventing serious casualties.

    Tsunami damage in Hawaii, 2011
    As with the Predator Drone, the Human Genome Project, mine resistant vehicles, and many other projects first championed by Congress, executive branch actors in Washington, DC resisted Tsunami Hazard Mitigation Project. For years the project was supported through earmarks promoted by Senators Inouye (D-HI) and Stevens (R-AK) who were seeking to be responsive to the real dangers facing their constituents. In the end the seemingly narrow interests of members of Congress (often derided for their perceived profligacy by the media and “watchdog” groups) produced a program of national importance.

    The executive branch is not the sole repository of all good ideas. Members of Congress are uniquely suited to identify issues of import to the communities they represent. It is unlikely that a bureaucrat sitting behind a desk in Washington, DC will spend much time thinking about tsunami dangers to coastal communities a continent away. The American system of representation positions of members of Congress to press the federal government to respond to local and regional issues and concerns. The recent moratorium on earmarks undermines the ability of members to be responsive to these concerns and, perhaps, the ability of our system to generate innovative approaches to pressing national problems.

    [1] Congressional Record, July 24, 1997, S8076.

    Wednesday, January 26, 2011

    Congressman Changing the Culture of Washington (A Satire)

    Congressman Lamar Kennedy released an open letter to his district. We reprint it here in its entirety.

    Voters of the 13th District—

    Two years ago, in the historic election of 2010, you elected me on my promise to help change the way that Washington works and restore fiscal discipline in our country. I heard you. You were tired of the backroom deals and the frivolous congressional earmarks that have led us to the brink of fiscal ruin. I am pleased to report to you on my efforts over the last two years and what they mean for the district.

    Lushland County Flooding
    One of the primary challenges in my first term was last year’s flooding in Lushland County. Inadequate levees and outdated pumping stations left some of the most productive agricultural land in the nation under two feet of water following unprecedented torrential rains. Local farmers and the businesses that support the agricultural sector were devastated.

    Leaders from the Lushland farming community immediately approached me to lobby the White House and FEMA leaders for a disaster declaration. I demurred. Such decisions are in the purview of the experts in the executive branch. I was pleased that a middle-level FEMA official flew out from Washington, DC to hover over the area in a helicopter and make a statement to the local media. We were all disappointed when the disaster declaration was denied, but it is not my role as a member of Congress to attempt to influence bureaucratic decisions such as this.

    The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has conducted an initial cost-benefit study to determine whether a flood mitigation project is warranted in Lushland County. Using established protocols USACE has determined that a flood mitigation project is not economically feasible and I have accepted this decision. My predecessor likely would have sought an earmark to begin work on this project and force the USACE to return this fertile area to a productive state. I refuse to engage in the practice of earmarking that supports the pet projects of members of Congress. In fact, you elected me to eliminate earmarks, and I support the Republicans’ moritorium on the practice. My sympathies are with the agricultural community in Lushland County. But restoring fiscal sanity in this country requires shared sacrifice and the people in Lushland are—I have no doubt—proud to bear their share of the burden of returning fiscal sanity to Washington.

    Patton-Schwartzkopf Base Closure
    Many in our district have been concerned about the future of Patton-Schwartzkopf Military Base. Patton-Schwartzkopf was under consideration for closure in an attempt to streamline military operations and save the taxpayers’ money. The local economy—especially the economy in the neighboring city of Gila—and many of the local businesses in the area, who employ thousands, depend on the base.

    I am pleased to report that I did not lift a finger to lobby in support of the base. Doing so might have led me into the kind of backroom dealing that you elected me to eliminate. While I am disappointed about the decision to close the base I know that we here in the district are willing to lose our friends, our businesses, and our jobs to benefit the overall national goal of reducing the federal deficit.

    The planned investment by Hiliott Hotels in a hotel/convention center complex in Gila has been cancelled. Corporate leaders indicated that their business plan relied heavily on the presence of Patton-Schwartzkopf and that without the base the hotel/convention center would not be economically viable. I applaud their business acumen and support their shrewd business decision-making.

    Major State University Cancer Research Center
    We are all proud to have Major State University in the district. Go Manx Cats! Among its distinguished programs is the Sartelli-Farfalla Cancer Research Center. Path breaking research at the Center is changing how physicians diagnose and treat this dreaded disease, and several local biotechnology firms have capitalized on discoveries made at Sartelli-Farfalla, adding high paying jobs to our economy.

    Responding to a major new initiative at the National Institutes of Health, Major State entered into a competition for major funding to improve the Center’s research facilities. The proposed improvements would expand the Sartelli-Farfalla’s research capacity and allow them to attract nationally recognized faculty.
    The President of Major State and major supporters of the Center approached me to send a letter of support to NIH. They urged me to indicate my “solid support” for the planned improvements and “strongly encourage NIH to give very serious consideration” to their proposal. In the old Washington the practice of writing such letters was known as “lettermarking,” a kissing cousin of earmarks. I steadfastly refused to write the letter of support.

    At every turn I have refused to promote the interests of our district. Changing the culture of Washington begins with the principled decisions of one man and the sacrifices of one community. I am that man and we are that community. Together we are changing the corrupt culture of Washington, DC. This is the New Washington that we are building together. I look forward to continuing to serve you in the years to come.

    Thursday, January 13, 2011

    The Cheese Factory on the Dylan Ratigan Show

    On Wednesday Jimmy Williams and Dylan Ratigan invited us to share our perspective on earmarks.  Two quick observations on the experience: Mr. Ratigan talks a lot, and his guests do not.  Enjoy!