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For the third year in a row, Mississippi Sen. Thad Cochran ran away with the title of the biggest earmarker. The ranking Republican on the powerful appropriations committee snagged $490 million for 240 pet projects.
But many lawmakers can't ignore the anti-spending sentiment sweeping the nation.
House Democrats recently swore off earmarks to for-profit companies while House Republicans agreed to shun all earmarks for a year. The result: pork-barrel spending is actually down, from $19.6 billion in 2009 to $16.5 billion in 2010 - and nearly half of that spending was requested anonymously.
The idea that it's not vote-buying just because it's not a for-profit company is just stupid. Also, it should be noted that earmarks aren't down because lawmakers think they are bad. Earmarks are down because the people are paying more attention right now. Politicians will do whatever they can get away with.
Senator Cochran is one of a hundred reasons to repeal the 17th Amendment.