Ron Paul, Earmarks, and the Fox News Attack Dogs

I've just decided I'm voting for Ron Paul for president, even if I have to write him in. I've written about him here several times before, but the latest attack on him proves that the liberals and conservatives from the "establishment" are running more scared than ever. Ron Paul is gaining traction in the Presidential race, and so the attack dogs are out. And "conservative" ones at that!

Ron Paul reported recently that he requested about $400 million in pork spending in Congress for this year. He's the devil, right? He is the biggest hypocrite on the face of the earth right? Not so fast. I don't think so. Let's look at some facts surrounding the issue, not just the once that Fox News wants you to know.

Try a Google search with the words "Ron Paul 400 million earmarks" (without the quotes), and you will find an interesting phenonenon. Brit Hume from Fox News reported Congressman Paul's declaration, and then hundreds of bloggers picked up on that one story. They are incensed! They are outraged! They are...well, not so fast.

Have you ever been a member of congress? Can you imagine that you would never request money to be allocated for anything? I always thought I wouldn't request unconstitutional things, but I don't know.

An earmark may or may not be pork. In other words, it may be something that the constitution actually allows, and then again it may not be.

Here are some quick facts about EarmarkGate:

It's not all for shrimp! Holy cow, what a sound bite society we live in!

Everyone requests earmarks
. Except for apparently John McCain. You wouldn't be doing your job if you didn't request earmarks (i.e. helped determine what spending goes on in Congress, especially if you are in the House of Representatives.) I know my senators and congressman here in Utah are very proud of the earmarks they request, even though they are of the porkish variety.

Ron Paul is one of the few who has divulged his earmark requests. As of a couple weeks ago, very few members of congress had even responded to requests that they do so. Nearly a hundred have specifically said that they would not release that kind of information. And nearly 300 have not even responded to the requests. Barack Obama requested almost the same dollar amount in earmarks as Ron Paul, but nobody is dogpiling on him. Obama requested that money be allocated to ensure that Asian carp cannot enter the Great Lakes, while Ron Paul requested nurturing and protection of the US shrimp industry. Sounds pretty similar.

Here is a summary of Congressman Paul's earmarks. They include funding:

  • To allow the Food and Drug administration to do antibiotic testing of seafood
  • For research into Athsma
  • Several of which are for the Army Corps of Engineers to design for and protect various harbors, shorelines, ports, river deltas, ship channels, and bayous in the Galveston, Texas area
  • For cancer research
  • For $25,000 to fund a Children's Identification and Location Database
  • For the Texas maritime training program.
  • To fix bridges, state highways, and interstate freeways in Texas. Oh my gosh, you've got to be kidding me! ;-)
  • For the Matagorda Episcopal Health Outreach Program. Here's what that is... (Be careful, you might be offended...not.)
  • For Vanadium Safety Readiness
  • For the Nursing Education Doctoral Program, etc. at the University of Texas
  • Ah, here's the one we've all be hearing about--money to research shrimp fishing in the Gulf coast area. Wow, that's brazen!!! But it gets worse. The last one is...
  • Money for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration to study Wild American Shrimp Marketing. Well, um, he should be impeached!!!
Many of these requests were made on behalf of the Texas government and the Texas Department of Transportation. Do you find anything on there that is particularly porkish? Not me really, except for maybe the trolley system in Galveston. If you'd like to see the entire list, click here.

Can you people please settle down a little bit? Is it worse for Ron Paul to have requested them than for anyone else? No. Especially that I can hardly find a page on here that is a pork-type earmark. And it turns out that the shrimp industry is largely in the public domain, and it makes sense to study it and protect it for the general welfare of America.

So Brit Hume of Fox News, would you like to apologize? I didn't think so. Because Ron Paul is not the establishment's man.

And they're scared crapless of him.


  1. Add that paul then votes against the very bills containing his earmarks as unconstitutional. If they do pass over his "no" vote, he appropriately wants some of the taxes taken from his constituents returned to his district. Simple, fair and principled if you ask me.

  2. Members of Congress are elected partly to advocate for their districts; only if the money is for something wasteful should it be criticized.

  3. It's good to see other officials following Obama's lead on disclosing earmarks. :)

    I agree with you that earmarks aren't inherently bad. I wish that all of them had to be disclosed, though. We really need more transparency in order to make certain that they aren't being used to "repay" lobbyists or otherwise used inappropriately. Not many people are being as honest as Obama and Ron Paul about this, and I really think that all of our presidential candidates in Congress would join the movement.

  4. Misty,

    Thanks for your comments. As you've probably noticed, I'm pretty high on Obama as well. Obama and Paul both exhibit an honesty and candor that is unusual in national politics.

    My dream presidential election would be Obama on the Democrat side and Ron Paul on the Republican side. Both of them are fresh air that as Chief Executive could possibly blow a lot of the establishment cobwebs out of the dark corners of Washington.

  5. I'm not opposed to earmarks in principle, but in practice I believe they are overused. The country is just too big for a Congress to make spending decisions in an informed way when the amounts are in the millions of dollars. I think that, as a rule, Congress should allocate money to government agencies and let those agencies determine the best use of the money. Congress would use its oversight authority to see that the people's money isn't squandered.

    I'm not convinced that it is the "principled" thing to put earmarks into a bill you expect to pass and then vote against it. It seems inconsistent. Can you persuade me otherwise?

  6. Earmarks are more or less a fight between who controls how allocated money is spent. Is it the executive branch, as was intended by the Founders, or should the legislative branch be able to micromanage how the executive branch spends its allocations? I'm sure that if I were a legislator, I'd be on the bandwagon for the latter, but is it the constitutionally sound and is it the best way to go?

    But the practice of earmarking often doesn't work well on the ground. Since many earmarks require matching state funds, and the states have different priorities, the last time it was measured, more than half of all earmarks were never picked up by the states. This allows federal legislators to ballyhoo their success at getting an earmark to their constituents (and to their donors and lobbyist friends) without having to actually put up for it. It pits projects that can buy votes for national legislators against the reasoned needs and desires of the states.

    Basically, the incentives for federal legislators to do earmarking tend to make for bad policy. Yes, state and local governments get in on the act by hiring lobbyists to get specific earmarks as well.

    Earmarking probably wouldn't exist at all if we had a small central government instead of the all-controlling behemoth we have evolved. The federal government wouldn't be involved in most of the projects which earmarks fund.

  7. I like Reach Upward's last paragraph, and think Ron Paul would agree (earmarking exists because we have a behemoth government.)


    I'll take a stab at it, but I'm only guessing that I can get inside Ron Paul's mind (it's something akin to what I would do if I were in Congress): the congress person represents the government of their state and, therefore, responds to the financing (earmark) requests that they make by asking the appropriate committee for them. But when it comes to voting for or against them, the representative votes his personal principles, which is against.

  8. Another possibility is that the earmarks he requested are attached to something odious that he won't support.

  9. Okay, let's try an analogy and you tell me where it doesn't work for Ron Paul on earmarks. Suppose Frank is a member of PETA. He has a family member that he believes will be greatly helped by some research that is currently being done on monkeys, and so he donates to the scientists working on the study. He then joins with his friends at PETA out in front of the laboratory to protest the cruelty to animals. He figures that if they're going to hurt the animals anyway, he may as well help his family.

    Would you see Frank's actions as morally consistent?

  10. Great article Frank. I'm coming around to the Ron Paul camp. Nobody else makes me smile so much when I read their speeches. I love the speeches he gives in Congress. The guy deserves defending. I especially like your focus on the fact that Paul is the kind of guy who releases this kind of information about his own office. He stands for transparency and accountability in government which is a pretty surprising stance to find these days, lol.

  11. In U.S. politics, an earmark refers to a provision in legislation that directs funds to be spent on specific projects. Typically, legislators seek to insert earmarks which direct a specified amount of money to a particular organization or project in his/her home state or district.

    In the United States legislative appropriations process, Congress has, within the powers granted under Article I, Section 8 of the United States Constitution, the ability to direct the appropriations of money drawn from the U.S. Treasury. This includes the power to earmark funds it appropriates to be spent on specific named projects. The earmarking process is a regular part of the process of allocating funds within the Federal government.

    Thus, earmarking is a provision of constitutional government, but the reason that Ron Paul then goes on to veto the budget is because he has never voted for an unbalanced budget. Fiscal sanity must be the order of the day. Just as in your home, if you constantly spend more than you have, disaster will eventually ensue.

  12. Thanks hippo, for a better explanation of earmarks than I could give. I checked out the videos on your site, and they are great. Very succinct statements of his excellent positions.

  13. After 9/11 my first question was why do they hate us so much? Finally an honest answer from an honest man, Ron Paul. The news media, smug, pseudo intellectuals are so loathe to admit wrong think that they would sacrifice the message and the messenger to save their sorry expressionless faces. THAT MEANS YOU BRIT, I was a fan, and the question is? why do they fear him? HE MAKES THEM LOOK STUPID>.

  14. The more and more I hear and watch Ron Paul, the more I agree. He really does make them look stupid, because his ideas make such eminent sense.


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