Of Earmarks, Eggs, and Chickens
I don’t recall Congress actually VOTING on a budget, this past year, but one was proposed. What amazes ME is that most folks think the budget process STARTS sometime in February, and that earmarks are somehow part of it. [the last link is a worthwhile read]
Which comes first? The chicken or the egg? AGENCIES determine their needs, THE PRESIDENT uses their figures to come up with a budget in the first place, this is generally declared “dead on arrival,” and then the chickens in CONGRESS start substituting their own ideas for whatever line items were once proposed … these are called “earmarks,” and sometimes “pork.”
Beginning sometime in September, Agencies begin developing their budget requests. Their baseline (because bureaucrats aren’t very imaginative) is “how much did we spend LAST year?” Then they add a few things, like increases in salaries, more staffing (because many “worker-bees” served their time and were promoted to Supervisors but don’t have enough staff to supervise), and a few new projects that might help correct mistakes or inefficiencies that were created in previous years.
Along the way, CongressCritters may suggest to Directors or Assistant Directors that their second-cousin-one-removed has an idea for a great new project … Agencies themselves invite Contractors to big meetings to propose possible projects … Generals and Admirals battle behind the scenes to fund air-wings or artillery battalions or battle groups that may increase their responsibilities (and uniformly say “no more aircraft carriers” because the cost of ONE would fund all sorts of more practical endeavors).
By December, thousands of accountants and procurement officers tell the President what they really need.
By February, The Budget is proposed, and declared “dead on arrival.” Then Congress adds a new aircraft carrier (and the ships and submarines needed to support it), a politically-correct subsidy to pay for houses that people can’t afford (generating a fiscal crisis to be paid for later), “stimulus” payments to old folks, young folks, rich folks, poor folks, and anyone else that didn’t ask for a “Getting America Back to Work Credit.”
If Appropriations are nice fat broilers, earmarks are eggs that were laid long before. The only chickens here are the politicians who have not gotten the message that The People finally understand that THERE IS NO MONEY … but they will continue running around after their heads have been cut off.
If Congress can’t use a cleaver, we have two years to sharpen our axes.