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John McCain argues that earmarks have grown out of control. And it certainly is true that they've grown tremendously over the past 10 years — from $23-billion in fiscal 1994 to $69.7-billion in fiscal 2006.
McCain is correct that they roughly doubled from $32.9-billion in 2000 to the 2006 budget year, but he fails to acknowledge developments after that.
In fiscal 2007, congressional Democrats had to complete most of the spending bills that Republicans had not finished after losing control of Congress in the 2006 elections. The Democrats declared a moratorium on most pork-barrel projects.
And so in fiscal 2007, earmarked projects dropped to about $10.7-billion. The only earmarks that Congress funded were those in the Defense appropriations bill and a few in the Homeland Security measure.
This year, congressional Democrats have vowed to drastically cut earmarks, and though the process is far from complete, so far it appears that Congress is on track to spend as little as $21-billion on earmarks. Skeptics say it is likely to be more, but President Bush has said he wants to cut earmarks in half.
If McCain had made his claim in 2005, he'd be right. But since it's two years later and the climate for earmark spending has changed significantly, McCain's facts are out of date.
Congressional Research Service, Earmarks in Appropriation Acts: FY1994, FY1996, FY1998, FY2000, FY2002, FY2004, FY2005
Office of Management and Budget, List of 2005 Appropriations Earmarks by 110th Congress Subcommittee
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