It’s that time of year again. A time that many politicians tend to forget, but the average citizen cannot. Then again, considering the economy, most people don’t have $500,000 let alone the need to forget about it like Rep. Charles Rangel. But as we approach the mid-term elections, let’s consider what our elected officials have done.
In the Senate, 68 Senators voted to keep earmarks in place. Earmarks are the little extra deals that sneak into various Bills to benefit a State, region, and/or special interest. This totals to tens of billions of dollars by the end of any given year. It is also something that President Obama promised to end during his campaign in 2008.
Looking at New York State as an example, Senator Kirsten Gillibrand is the junior Senator. She was appointed into the position by the also appointed Governor of NY David Patterson to replace Hillary Clinton as she became the Secretary of State. She has been in office for 1 year. In that time she requested and recieved 23 earmarks totaling $6,943,300. This is seperate of the 146 earmarks that she shared with other Senators and Representatives, which totaled $384,241,943. She voted to keep earmarks alive.
The senior Senator for New York, Senator Charles Schumer was not to be outdone. Since 2008 he has totaled 25 earmarks for a grand total of $24,388,250. This is also seperate of the shared earmarks, some 758 that total $2,551,224,060. Yes that’s Billions. Seniority has it’s perks. He also voted to keep earmarks flowing.
But don’t think that the Senate is alone on this. The House of Representatives is in on the earmark spending too. Rep. Maurice Hinchey spent $20,239,016 on 59 earmarks by himself. He spent another $114,869,500 on 82 other earmarks with other members of Congress.
Again, this is extra money added often at the last moment. It is money that often targets a campaign contributor, special interest groups, pet projects, and others that don’t rate an actual law. These are also deals that would never get passed if presented on their own in a regular session of Congress. But taxpayers foot the bill for these items just the same.
So in just the Senate and 1 Representative, in New York alone, $51,570,566 was spent. You paid for it. Things like $950,000 for Main Street Multimodal Access and Revitalization Project, NY. What does it do? Opens up part of Main Street in Buffallo, NY for 2 way traffic and “creating an attractive and pedestrian friendly street.” As far as I knew, streets in major cities are already pedestrian friendly, and how attractive can cement and blacktop get? More importantly, do you really care how pretty the sidewalk is? Especially if you consider that over 30 jobs paying $30,000 could have been made with that money.
Or how about the $94,000 for Clifton Park, NY. A paltry sum, the equivalent of 3 jobs at $30,000/year. But the key here is there is no explaination of what the money was given to Clifton Park (population 34,000) for. All the same, your taxes paid for it.
There are many other examples. Some are better, some are worse. But in each case this was money added onto some Bill in Congress that could not be gotten by itself. Money that has never been explained to voters. Money that Congress intends to keep spending.
So if you are part of the over 15 million without a job, or the 18 million that are underemployed, or you had to pay taxes for a business that no longer exists or lost money last year, or some other configuration that netted out to you paying taxes you can thank Congress for spending your money. Not that you will get a card, or a mention of the above spending.
Better yet, every elected official mentioned above is up for re-election. Why not send them a letter asking why they spent that much of your money, who benefited, and why they voted to do it all over again.