- The Washington Times - Tuesday, April 13, 2010

ASSOCIATED PRESS

Members of Congress obtained about 2,000 fewer pet projects for their home states last year, according to a White House analysis released Monday.

Lawmakers stuffed 9,192 so-called earmarks into spending bills last year, at a cost to taxpayers of more than $11 billion, the analysis found. By White House calculations, that’s a 17 percent drop in the number of earmarks and a 27 percent reduction in cost.

“All too often, earmarks are an easy vehicle for special interest dealmaking - inserted into congressional spending bills without filter for merit, need, priority, or any scrutiny,” White House budget chief Peter Orszag said in a statement.

“Although more needs to be done, the news is encouraging: Earmarks are down by double-digit percentages,” Mr. Orszag said.

Earmarks such as road and water projects are a cherished tradition and skyrocketed during Republican control of Congress. Democrats have succeeded in cutting them back a little and have instituted reforms to make the process more open and less subject to corruption.

House Republicans have sworn off them this year as they seek an edge in the November elections.

“Abuse of the earmark process is a symbol of how Washington is broken, and Washington Democrats have done far too little to fix it,” said House Minority Leader John A. Boehner, Ohio Republican.

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