Pork, Pork, Pork!

They're called Earmarks, a fancy Washington political label for Pork.  Pork is the accepted political label for federal dollars handed out to a specific election district.

Congressmen and Congresswomen and Senators vie fiercely for this Pork to show their voters back home what they have done for them.

The Earmarks or Pork are almost always attached to a larger bill the President or the Senate is eager to pass.

So much for the tutorial.

On talk shows and interviews with the media, lawmakers generally blast earmarks or pork as the worst type of legislation.

But when it comes right down to the time a new piece of legislation is ready for passage, these same lawmakers stand up and say earmarks or pork is OK after all.

Here are some recent comments from them, as reported in The New York Times, The Washington Post, Associated Press and The Huffington Post:

Blanche-Lincoln.jpgArkansas Democratic Sen. Blanche Lincoln reminds voters in her state that in 16 years in office she has secured beaucoup dollars including $13,811 for the Hope Police Department to buy a new cruiser to a $102 million stimulus-funded grant for the state to pay for broadband Internet.

"I'm going to fight hard for my state because, let me tell you, these dollars are going to go somewhere else if we don't get them," Lincoln said.

Lincoln co-sponsored 91 earmarks in the 2010 budget totaling nearly $115 million, according to Taxpayers for Common Sense. Boozman sponsored or co-sponsored 31 earmarks totaling more than $30 million the same year.

John-Boozman.jpgIt's a return to the basics for Lincoln, who is trailing in most polls. She's faced anger from both the right and the left, with liberal activists trying unsuccessfully earlier this year to throw her out of office in the Democratic primary.

Her opponent, Republican Congressman John Boozman, also brought millions of dollars in projects to his Arkansas district before signing on to a House GOP moratorium on earmarks. Lincoln says he's sacrificing the state's interests for politics.

"People talk about earmarks like its just money coming out of a plane," Lincoln said. "It's just not at all. ... You fight hard for those dollars because other states realize too that it's a way to equalize what's coming to their states."

"Earmarks in and of themselves are not bad," Boozman said. "(But) the process and the way they were obtained had broken down."

Lisa-Muirkowski.jpgAlaska Sen. Lisa Murkowski, a Republican who serves on the Appropriations and Energy committees, had similarly been highlighting her seniority as she tried to fend off a challenge in Tuesday's GOP primary.

That may have backfired, however, as she trails challenger Joe Miller in a surprisingly tight contest that remains too close to call.

Washington Sen. Patty Murray, a Democrat seeking re-election, is unapologetic about the millions of dollars in earmarks she's secured for her state as a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee and chairwoman of its transportation subcommittee.

Patty-Murray.jpg"You can opt out of that, but that means every community in our state is going to be left behind," Murray said earlier this year. "That money is still going to be allocated in the budget, but it's just going to go to California or New York."

A Pew Research Center for People and the Press/National Journal Congressional Connection poll this month showed that 53 percent of Americans say they're more likely to vote for a candidate with a record of delivering earmarks for their districts.

A third of those surveyed said it would make no difference, while 12 percent said they'd be less likely to vote for such a candidate.

Michael Dimock, the center's associate director, noted that this comes as polls are also showing widespread frustration over government spending.

Lawmakers seeking re-election face voters who hate earmarks as an abstract idea, but embrace them as local projects benefiting their community, he said.

"This year it's a tougher, more delicate line because there is this very anti-government, anti-spending, spend-thrifty sentiment out there when you come home and tout the benefits you've delivered," Dimock said.

I'm for Earmarks when they are handed out fairly and for worthwhile and needy projects.  Not for a highway to nowhere as happened previously in Alaska or for the study of sex life of unpronounceable insects.

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