[promoted from the diaries by haystack because...well, you figure it out]
Note: This op-ed appeared in the Greenville News of Greenville, South Carolina on Monday, November 15, 2010.
We are fighting two wars overseas. We are in the middle of an entitlement crisis that could bankrupt this country. The national debt is simply out of control. And your elected leaders voted to spend $500,000 of your taxpayer money for Brown Tree Snake control and interdiction in Guam.
In their 2010 report, the non-partisan Citizens Against Government Waste uncovered 9,129 earmarks, also known as “pork barrel projects,” totaling $16.5 billion in a single year of Congressional spending. In fact, the federal government spends nearly three times as much taxpayer money on pet projects in a year as they do to protect our border with the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency ($5.7 billion).
While ordinary Americans struggle to keep the lights on and food on the table, members of Congress continue to fund frivolous pet projects with taxpayer money, like wool research costing $206,000 or a farmer’s market in rural Kentucky costing $250,000. Such spending reflects the mindset of the Washington elite- they are completely and totally uninterested in the plight of the American working family. Instead, they are concerned with political favors and ensuring incumbency.
Senator Jim DeMint is different. While others conduct backroom deals to keep the earmarking process alive and kicking, your U.S. Senator has begun to rally other reform-minded leaders in Congress to put a stop to this practice once and for all. In fact, he has even bucked Republican Party leadership, including Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), to stand firm on his principles.
As any good leader would do, Senator DeMint is insisting that the changes come within the GOP first. He is currently fighting for a change in internal Republican Party rules to prevent any Republican from attempting to pass earmarking legislation.
This isn’t the first time Senator DeMint has taken bold action to stop pork barrel spending. Earlier this year, he authored legislation that would permanently ban earmarks, but it failed in the U.S. Senate.
I hope this time will be different. The American people spoke loudly and clearly November 2, 2010. They are tired of politics as usual and Washington insider deals. They want transparent government that works for and is accountable to the people.
Thankfully, Senator Jim DeMint was listening.
Herman Cain is a radio talk show host in Atlanta, Georgia broadcasting weekdays from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. on 750 AM and 95.5 FM WSB. Previously, Mr. Cain served as an executive of several major American corporations, including Godfather’s Pizza, where he took the company from the brink of bankruptcy to profitability. Mr. Cain also served as the Chairman of the Federal Reserve in Kansas City and as a senior policy adviser to the Dole/Kemp campaign in 1996. For more information, visit http://www.thehermanatorpac.com.