Friday, February 8, 2008

Westmoreland won’t pursue earmarks, takes tough stand on spending

1/24/08 U.S. Rep. Lynn Westmoreland announced today that he will not pursue earmarks in this year’s budget process as part of his fight to overhaul what he considers Congress’ wasteful pork-barrel spending. Westmoreland’s earmark moratorium will be in effect until the process is reformed, and taxpayers have more confidence that their money is spent wisely, he said.

“I believe that Georgians have lost faith that members of Congress are spending their money wisely; they want to see change, and they want to see leadership,” Westmoreland said. “I have two main goals. First, I want to lead by example and I want to send a serious message to the people in Georgia’s 3rd District that I share their concern about Washington spending. Second, I want to work to reform how Washington does business. And you can check the record: I’m no Johnny Come Lately to the cause; I was saying the same thing when my own party controlled both houses of Congress.”

The number of earmarks passed by Congress jumped from 3,000 in 1995 to 15,000 in 2005. Last year, Congress passed more than 11,000 earmarks at a cost of more than $15 billion. U.S. Comptroller General David Walker, head of the government’s accountability office, said the earmark process “corrupts the process.” He has testified that the Pentagon has received $20 billion in earmarks that it doesn’t want.

“I’m promoting legislation that would study the earmark process and report back to Congress with suggestions for reform,” Westmoreland continued. “An important part of this legislation is that it would halt all earmarks while the study is going on.

“Last year, the Democrats campaigned on ending earmark abuses but after a year in power, they’ve abandoned those hollow promises. It’s the same old, same old: It’s more fun to eat pork than to cut the fat. Year after year, we just loosen our belts a little more. It’s time to step away from the table and control our appetites.

“This move does not come without sacrifice. My district is one of the fastest-growing in the nation. We have serious infrastructure needs and those of us from the district are more attuned to those needs than bureaucrats in Washington. I will continue to advocate for competitive federal grants to address those needs in my district. In those programs, every one’s on equal footing and the money is allocated based on merit, rather than on who can pull the most strings on Capitol Hill. We need more balance in how federal money is spent across the country, but at the end of the day, we simply need to spend less.”

No comments: