Government Spending

Conservative Coalition Demands Transparency in Earmark Debate

Stacy French - January 28th, 2018

January 26, 2018


Speaker of the House Paul D. Ryan

U.S. House of Representatives

Washington, D.C.  20515


Dear Mr. Speaker,


On behalf of the undersigned organizations and our millions of members, we appreciate your leadership in bringing the debate over earmarks into the open after the attempt to modify the earmark moratorium in the Republican Conference on November 16, 2016.


Following that meeting, you were quoted by sources in the room that you wanted a “more thorough process to look at this issue” and that it was not appropriate to reinstitute earmarks in a secret-ballot process.


We agree that any modification of the earmark moratorium or any legislation related to earmarks must be done through a recorded, public vote, and urge you to reiterate your commitment to this process.


Earmarks are corrupt, inequitable, and wasteful.  They circumvent the authorization and appropriations process.  The history of earmarks is not apparent to the more than 60 percent of House Republicans who were elected following the establishment of the moratorium in 2011.  While these members may be tempted by the promise of earmarks, they should be aware that at best they might get a few morsels of pork.  In the 111th Congress, 81 appropriators (50 in the House and 31 in the Senate), who constituted 15 percent of the entire Congress, purloined 51 percent of the earmarks and 61 percent of the money.


We understand that if a vote for the return of earmarks takes place outside of the legislative process, it could be behind closed doors in a Republican Conference meeting, or possibly at the Republican retreat on January 31-February 2.  Those who call for reviving earmarks claim that they will be more transparent and accountable than in the past.  If that is the case, a secret vote gives little confidence to taxpayers that a new earmark regime would be above board.


We do not support a restoration of earmarks in any way and continue to advocate for a permanent earmark ban.  But, if a vote to restore earmarks were to take place, we respectfully urge you to ensure that the vote tally is made public, so that the American people can know who decided to bring back bridges to nowhere, indoor rainforests, and teapot museums.




Tom Schatz, President, Council for Citizens Against Government Waste


Adam Brandon, President, FreedomWorks


Pete Sepp, President, National Taxpayers Union


Grover Norquist, President, Americans for Tax Reform


David McIntosh, President, Club for Growth


Senator Jim DeMint


Edward Corrigan, Former Executive Director of the Senate Steering Committee


David Williams, President, Taxpayers Protection Alliance


Carrie Lukas, President, Independent Women’s Forum


Heather R. Higgins, President and CEO, Independent Women’s Voice


Michael A. Needham, CEO, Heritage Action for America


Andrew Quinlan, President, Center for Freedom and Prosperity


Jonathan Bydlak, President, Coalition to Reduce Spending


Ryan Alexander, President, Taxpayers for Common Sense


Lisa B. Nelson, CEO, ALEC Action


Jim Martin, Founder and Chairman, 60 Plus Association


Olivia Grady, Senior Fellow, Center for Worker Freedom


Phil Kerpen, President, American Commitment


George Landrith, President, Frontiers of Freedom


Jenny Beth Martin, Chairman, Tea Party Patriots Citizens Fund


Victor Riches, President and CEO, Goldwater Institute

Club for Growth Warns House GOP Not to Get Intoxicated with Earmarks

Rachael Slobodien - January 18th, 2018

This week the Club for Growth will unveil a new ad, “Hangover,” that brings attention to the wasteful spending practice of earmarks that Rep. John Culberson (R-TX) and some of his Republican colleagues seek to restore.


Ahead of releasing the ad, Club for Growth President David McIntosh offered the following statement: “In 2011, taxpayers scored a huge victory when Republicans forced Congress to sober up and swear off earmark spending.  But some House Republicans haven’t lost their taste for waste and are tempted to go off the wagon.  Bringing back earmarks would be costly both to taxpayers’ wallets and Republicans’ chances of holding a majority in the House.  We thought we’d explain the risks to John Culberson, who has publicly stated support for bringing back earmarks.  Club for Growth encourages members to do the right thing for taxpayers and abandon their desire to reinstitute earmarks.”


The ad will run on TV in Texas beginning tomorrow and digitally for a week.


To watch Club for Growth’s ad, click here.


The transcript of the 15-second ad can also be found below.





“John Culberson’s been sober for years.  But he’s getting thirsty.”


“He wants to bring back earmark spending in Congress.  You know:  Wasteful spending that gives taxpayers a wicked hangover.”


“Tell Culberson to just say NO to earmarks.”


Open Letter to President Trump: No To A Return of Earmarks

Andrew Roth - January 10th, 2018

Dear Mr. President,

On behalf of the undersigned organizations and our millions of members from across the country, we urge you to reconsider your suggestion that Congress consider restoring earmarks.

Earmarks are the antithesis of the “drain the swamp” election that sent you to the White House. They are corrupt, inequitable, and wasteful.

Since 1991, according to CAGW’s Congressional Pig Book, there have been 110,605 earmarks costing taxpayers $329.9 billion. In 2006, one year after the 2005 highway bill had $24 billion in earmarks, including the infamous Bridge to Nowhere, appropriations earmarks totaled a record $29 billion. That was also the year Republicans lost the majority in the House of Representatives.

When Republicans took back the House in 2010, they agreed to an earmark moratorium, and they have kept that majority for the past three election cycles. The loss of the majority and the incarceration of some of their former colleagues due to earmarks were fresh in their minds.

The distribution of funds for earmarks skews heavily toward those in power. In the 111th Congress, when the names of members who requested earmarks were included in the appropriations bills, the 81 appropriators who constituted 15 percent of the 535 members of Congress purloined 61 percent of the earmarks and 51 percent of the money for earmarks. Earmarks do not help members get along better; they unfairly benefit a select group at the expense of everyone else.

If you have been hearing that earmarks are essential to help pass bills, that claim has been debunked by the passage in the House of all 12 appropriations bills for fiscal year 2018. That achievement did not require resorting to the prior practice of “legalized bribery,” under which a few million dollars in earmarks were traded for votes in favor of hundreds of billions of dollars in spending bills.

Earmarks are a lazy, unfair and corrupt way to circumvent the authorization and appropriations process. They have been roundly excoriated by the conservative movement upon which Republicans depend for their political lives.

The American people have made it clear that they want an end to business as usual in Washington. Earmarks for teapot museums, indoor rainforests, and bridges to nowhere should not be restored; they should be permanently banned. We respectfully urge you to make it clear you agree with the taxpayers on this issue.


Council for Citizens Against Government Waste
National Taxpayers Union
Americans for Tax Reform
60 Plus Association
The Club for Growth
Coalition to Reduce Spending
Taxpayers Protection Alliance
Taxpayers for Common Sense
ALEC Action

Open Letter to Congress: Don’t Bring Back Earmarks

Andrew Roth - January 10th, 2018

Dear Members of Congress:

In 2011, your body spoke with a clear voice against the culture of waste and abuse endemic to Washington by passing a ban on the scandal-ridden earmark process.

Earmarks can feasibly increase the upward pressure on members of Congress to spend more to get their own pet projects approved.

Even though defenders correctly note that earmarks did not constitute a large portion of the federal budget, the primary problem with them remains as true today as in 2011: Earmarks incentivize waste on the dubious assumption that trading pet projects helps better legislation get passed.

Nostalgic supporters of earmarks might suggest a world in which Representatives were able to directly respond to district needs, but data suggests otherwise.

In 2011, researchers uncovered evidence that leadership regularly provided extra earmarks depending not on need but on how much of a reelection challenge particular members faced.

In 2010, a Harvard working paper found that when one of a state’s Senators becomes chair of a powerful committee, the number of earmarks to that state skyrockets by a startling 50%, while private investment and R&D spending are depressed.

Perhaps not all earmarks are “bridges to nowhere,” but bridges to reelection and political power are hardly reassuring in a time of ever-increasing deficits and debt.

To be clear, the status quo is in no way perfect, and opportunities for reform are abundant. In a time of dysfunction and even immobility on major legislation, it is not surprising that lawmakers might seek any available options for
making the wheels of government turn smoother. But relying upon cronyism and waste as the currency is indefensible.

We, as the undersigned organizations, strongly object to any move to bring back earmarks and urge further reforms of the process in order to ensure the fiscal sanity, accountability, and small government policy your constituents demand.


Coalition to Reduce Spending
National Taxpayers Union
Alaska Policy Forum
ALEC Action
American Commitment
Americans for Prosperity
Americans for Tax Reform
Center for Freedom and Prosperity
Center for Individual Freedom
Civitas Institute
Club for Growth
Concerned Veterans for America
Council for Citizens Against Government Waste
Freedom Partners Chamber of Commerce
Free the People
Frontiers of Freedom
Generation Opportunity
Goldwater Institute
Heritage Action
Independent Women’s Voice
Let Freedom Ring
The LIBRE Initiative
The Maine Heritage Policy Center
The National Center for Public Policy Research
Pioneer Institute
60 Plus Association
Republican Liberty Caucus
Taxpayers for Common Sense
Taxpayers Protection Alliance
Tea Party Patriots Citizens Fund

Club for Growth Sends Letter to Tax Conferees

Rachael Slobodien - December 07th, 2017

Washington, DC – Today, Club for Growth President David McIntosh sent a letter to Majority Leader McConnell, House Speaker Ryan, and members of the tax conference committee.  An excerpt of the letter is below.  The letter can be read in its entirety here.


“As conference discussions begin, Club for Growth wants to ensure that the most significant pro-growth provisions in the House and Senate legislation are preserved and not lost in an effort to appease special interests pleading to retain their particular tax benefit.  In other words, we want to make sure that what comes out of the conference committee is more pro-growth and not less than what went into it. 


Club for Growth urges the conferees not to increase any marginal tax rates.


  1. Stand firm and keep the corporate rate at 20 percent. 
  • We believe lowering the corporate rate to 20 percent is among the most pro-growth components in both versions of the legislation.  As the Tax Foundation has found, cutting the corporate rate from 35 percent to 20 percent will increase our nation’s GDP by 3.1 percent in the long run.  It will also increase the size of the U.S. economy by nearly 4 percent and result in 3 percent higher wages for American workers.


  1. Adopt at least the Senate’s top individual marginal tax rate and reject the House’s proposal.  Further reductions in the top individual rate would create even more economic growth. 
  • Lowering this rate benefits all Americans by spurring more investment and thereby creates economic growth and jobs throughout our country.  The Tax Foundation has found that lowering income tax rates by 10 percent – a similar reform to the Senate proposed rates – would further boost the economy by 1 percent. Additional reductions in income tax rates would provide even greater benefits to all Americans.


  1. Include the Senate’s repeal of the individual mandate.
  • This provision will allow over $300 billion in additional tax cuts, making the overall bill even more pro-growth.  This should not be a point of contention.  The Senate included the repeal of the Obamacare mandate in their version, and the House has repeatedly voted to repeal it in previous years.


Conference meetings inevitably require tradeoffs to rectify the differences between the legislative texts.  In making those tradeoffs, Club for Growth strongly urges conferees to stand strong and fight for the most pro-growth policies that benefit all Americans and not diminish them by giving in to class warfare or social engineering arguments.”