As he runs for the U.S. Senate from Washington state, Republican Dino Rossi loudly criticizes his opponent, incumbent Democratic Sen. Patty Murray, for earmarking hundreds of millions of dollars for the state in federal spending bills.
Yet while he's calling for an outright ban on them now, Rossi was no stranger to Olympia's version of earmarks — or, as lawmakers euphemistically call them, "locally targeted investments" — during his two terms in the state Senate.
They were known as "bacon bits," little pieces of pork for their districts that even Rossi lobbied influential committee chairmen to include in the state budget.
State Sen. Darlene Fairley, a Democrat, recalls that Rossi sent her a dozen Krispy Kreme doughnuts after she inserted one of his funding requests in the capital budget she was writing in 2002.
"The only Krispy Kreme store in the state, at the time, was in his district," Fairley recalled.
Though there are other issues as well, Rossi has made earmarks a central theme in the Washington state U.S. Senate race, which polls find is tight. At first glance, the battle lines are clear.
Over the past two years alone, Murray has secured more than $500 million in earmarks for her state. They've covered everything from DNA testing kits in rape cases to increased security along the Canadian border. One congressional watchdog group has called her the "queen of pork."
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Comment: While I think earmarks are as bad as stealing from your neighbor, because after all when Murray gets something for her state the rest of the country has to pay for it with no say in the matter, which is after all stealing.
But it's not earmarks that are driving the deficit to new records; it's the enlargement of the federal government that is! It's spending on education, the war and the military, health care, the environmental agenda, the welfare, and most of all, the exponential growth in the federal bureaucracy compounded through every single federal government agency. This is where the real problem is, not earmarks.
Mr. Rossi should focus on the real problem; the unprecedented growth of the centralized US federal and national government; and not only the spending, but the unprecedented number of laws and regulations created everyday in Washington that strangle this country and our productivity.