Monday, April 13, 2009

Are these earmark lists legitimate?

Having faithfully posted all of the earmarks Frank LoBiondo is officially requesting, I now have to follow Daniel Walsh in noting that last year he only got 1/10 the amount he's requesting this year. It seems like publishing these requests is turning into more of an advertisement than a disclosure. Here's how I put it at Blue Jersey: Reforming earmarks, or boasting about them?:

I'm getting the impression that the latest earmark reform made them even more attractive. Last year, lawmakers had to disclose the earmarks they got placed in laws. This year, House members must disclose even their earmark requests on their websites. It's worked out fantastically for the South Jersey Representatives. The Courier-Post's headline is Earmarks may aid S.J.:

Transportation programs, beach replenishment projects, defense contractors, military bases, universities, hospitals and social service agencies would share hundreds of millions of federal dollars if New Jersey lawmakers succeed in inserting their requests for special projects into the 2010 budget.

The Press of Atlantic City has the more neutral LoBiondo, Adler post funding requests, and reporter Daniel Walsh points out that it's highly unlikely that these hundreds of millions will appear. LoBiondo's $192 million and Adler's $238 million sound impressive, yet last year LoBiondo got "only" $17 million.

While it's good that the earmark requests are not secret, I can't help but think this is all a free ad for the lawmakers: Look at the all people I stood up for! Vote for me! But in the rooms where no cameras are running, and no meeting minutes are posted to the web, I doubt very much that most of these earmarks are being seriously pushed.