Friday, June 22, 2007

Earmark Disclosure's Unintended Consequences

Representative Patrick McHenry was among the leaders in fighting for disclosure of earmarks. Now that he's got what he wanted, he's defending one of his own:

Rep. Patrick McHenry (R-N.C.) was all over the House floor last week, bashing Appropriations Committee Chairman David Obey (D-Wis.) and other Democratic leaders for not doing enough to disclose member earmarks early in the appropriations process, as Democrats had promised when they took over the House in January. Republicans eventually got Democrats to back down and release the earmark requests -- read "pork" -- earlier than Obey had planned, so McHenry got what he wanted. And now McHenry will be forced to defend his $129,000 earmark, via the Small Business Administration, for Christmas trees.

Actually, the $129K is to go to the The Mitchell County Development Foundation, "a nonprofit organization dedicated to creating jobs and strengthening the educational system, as well as promoting tourism in Mitchell County."

The "Perfect Christmas Tree" part comes in because in 2003, author Gloria Houston donated the rights to her children's book, "The Perfect Christmas Tree" to the town of Spruce Pine, N.C. Spruce Pine and Mitchell Country have lost thousands of textile and manufacturing jobs over the last several years to foreign competition. Mitchell County used the money to fund some small business jobs for woodworkers and other craftsman.


Anonymous said...

Brian, I don't see what is gained by posting this incredibly biased article. The earmark has absolutely nothing to do with Christmas Trees. McHenry spoke (I think rather eloquently, even if forcefully) about Democrat hypocrisy of campaigning on "exposing earmarks to the sunshine" then attempting to circumvent the rules to hide them. You have done a fine job of following it as well. That doesn't mean you can't ask for (and defend) an earmark. That you don't even include a quote from McHenry about the program and why he wants it is even less fair.

The Editor at IP said...

Thanks for the comment and kind words. I was in a hurry when posting this piece. You're right that I should have posted McHenry's defense.

However, the best reason to expose earmarks is so that they can be questioned and defended. I don't have a problem with the media questioning any earmark. I'll be eager to post further stories about others.