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.

Sincerely,

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