Monday, March 17, 2008

Tom Coburn on the Founding Fathers and Pork

This is a terrific article in National Review written by Sen. Tom Coburn on what the Founding Fathers would have thought about pork.

"Even though he firmly believed that the power of appropriating federal money belonged only to Congress and that it was necessary to have a clear delineation of authority between the executive and legislative branches of government, Thomas Jefferson also fervently argued against the use of federal funding for local projects. For example, in a 1796 letter to James Madison regarding federally funded local projects, Jefferson wrote, “[O]ther revenues will soon be called into their aid, and it will be the source of eternal scramble among the members, who can get the most money wasted in their State; and they will always get the most who are the meanest.” Anyone who has observed the recent tantrums of those who have had their pork challenged knows that Jefferson’s statement was sadly prophetic."

He continues:

"The importance of transparency in government operations was also recognized by Jefferson. In 1808 he wrote, “The same prudence, which, in private life, would forbid our paying our money for unexplained projects, forbids it in the disposition of public moneys.” And yet, in the United States Senate, senators are freely able to distribute earmarks to organizations from which they solicit campaign contributions without ever having to actually disclose the names of those organizations. Try as they might, it is difficult for earmark enthusiasts to argue that the author of the Declaration of Independence would today endorse the allocation of taxpayer money on “unexplained projects.”"

The entire article is a must-read - and kudos for Sen. Coburn for keeping the fight against pork alive!


Tim Higgins said...


The Senate instead voted 71-29 against a proposal to place further restrictions on budget earmarks, before adjourning for a well-needed rest.

Bob McCarty Writes said...

I wrote about the same thing under the heading, 'Earmarks, the Gateway Drug for Overspending'.

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