"We might hope to see the finances of the Union as clear and intelligible as a merchant's books, so that every member of Congress and every man of any mind in the Union should be able to comprehend them, to investigate abuses, and consequently to control them." -Thomas Jefferson
Last night the Senate unanimously passed S. 2590, the Federal Funding Accountability and Transparency Act of 2006. This, of course, is a very good step towards cleaning up the earmark disaster in Washington.
Porkbusting Sen. Tom Coburn (R-OK) was the force behind this piece of legislation and deserves major credit. Coburn's bill will create a searchable database enabling Americans to track the trillion dollars of federal grants, earmarks, contracts and loans. U.S. taxpayers will finally be able to see where their money is being spent.
True earmark reform is necessary to stop Senate and House members from dropping budget earmarks into appropriations bills in the dead of night. This transparency bill will enable us to discover these earmarks after the fact, but it would be better to prevent this egregious practice altogether.
Earmarks should be made completely transparent before appropriations bills are voted on. This way both officials and the public will know what these earmarks are. How much? Who’s sponsoring? And what they're intended for? This should happen before the vote is taken on the appropriation bills. Including all omnibus bills, and of course transportation and highway bills.
Of course, it would be much better if legislators actually reduced appropriations (i.e. cut budget spending.) Wouldn’t that be something?
Lower tax rates from President Bush and the Republican Congress have unleashed economic growth and generated a literal cascade of tax receipts. If spending had been held down, today’s budget would be in balance. Think of it.
Message to the GOP: Much more work to be done.