Newsletter Aug 19, 2010

Ending Earmark Hide and Seek

Dear Supporter,

Misdeeds survive as long as they go unexposed.

For more than a decade, career politicians and their lobbyist friends have had unfettered access to your tax dollars, quietly slipping in provisions that benefit a few at the expense of the many. These costly provisions have been tucked into spending bills in the cloak of darkness—beyond the review of the general public and most lawmakers.

Over the past five years, we have challenged this corrupt process. And thanks to the demands of the American people, Washington is finally scared.

Like a child caught but not yet remorseful, the big spenders have responded with “reforms” intended to take some of the edge off of our anger. In the name of transparency, we have been given a convoluted, inconsistent patchwork of reporting mechanisms scattered across hundreds of sites. No voter, much less their elected representatives, can comprehensively review and evaluate the thousands of earmarks found on these sites.

In other words, the game of earmark hide and seek continues.

That is why I introduced the Earmark Transparency Act of 2010. The bill will force the creation of a single, comprehensive website to be available for all Americans and their representatives to view and search before Congress considers including the item in future spending bills. The database will be required to include substantial detail on the merit of each earmark and list those who are requesting the spending favor.

I am happy to report that this bill was recently approved by the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs subcommittee by a vote of 11-5. As you would expect, every roadblock was thrown in its way, but I am pleased that common sense did finally prevail.

If Congress wants to get serious about restoring the confidence of the American people, at the very least, politicians should have the courage and integrity to let the American people see their detailed earmark requests in advance. We should have the opportunity to decide if each item is a true priority for our nation and whether it falls within the constitutional authority of the federal government.

The game of earmark hide and seek must end. Sincerely,

Tom A. Coburn, MD

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