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Do Ron Paul's Earmarks Increase Spending?

A friend of mine I highly regard has in the past been something of an insider into the budget/appropriation/earmark process in seeking research funding and insists that earmarks actually increase spending. At this point, it's a little he-said/she-said and I need some evidence that vindicates Dr. Paul.

I posted something similar to this a while ago and have progressed in my understanding. Please correct me if it is wrong, and help me find missing pieces if you can. Feel free to post Dr. Paul’s comments or link to explanations of the process / articles that seek to explain the situation as that will be beneficial to all, but most of that I'm aware of. Please also take note of the specifics I'm looking for.


The president is required to submit a budget, congress changes it and passes it through both houses, then the president signs it. Next appropriation bills are passed to authorize the spending and to either earmark where the spending goes or to pass it on as discretionary spending to the executive branch in accordance with the prior approved budget. Congress should theoretically earmark EVERY PENNY of the spending they authorize so that it is not put into the hands of the president and his minions.

That right?


Ron Paul votes against unbalanced budgets. But he still puts in requests for earmarks, gets a good many approved, then votes against the appropriation bill because he is opposed to the spending. The appropriation bill not only allocates the spending, but also authorizes it. But IF it passes (and it eventually does), he has a congressional duty to have earmarked the bill in representation of his district (viewed as a sort of tax return) and is therefore justified in his approach.

That right?

I guess that makes sense, and he has certainly been consistent in his view of earmarks as a congressional duty as far as I have found.


But a few questions...
- How does the budget ACTUALLY get determined?
- How does one ACTUALLY get their earmarks put into an appropriation bill?

(And I'm not asking about the rules necessarily though that's relevant, but what must actually be done to make it happen - to get your funding, your earmarks, into the final bill. Who do you have to lobby? When must this lobbying take place?)


Now, I'm just a regular dude and certainly not expert or insider, but it makes sense to think that all of these things must happen in conjunction. (Correct me with evidence if I'm wrong please - that way it's no longer just he-said/she-said.)

I realize this is conjecture on my part, but does this seem reasonable? Based on the funding that congress wants to push through, the budget and appropriation committees coordinate with one another and the rest of congress to determine what budget levels will be before they vote to approve or disapprove the amended budget. Earmarks that are placed into appropriation bills would certainly already be determined (at least unofficially) prior to even the budget being approved, and thereby the earmarks that are eventually approved would have played an unofficial yet direct role in increasing budget numbers. Many earmark requests are ignored – what are the chances that Ron Paul could get his requests approved without being involved in the process when budget numbers are being determined?


This is what I'm really looking for at this point I think:

Evidence that challenges the idea that Paul's involvement in the earmarking process did not influence budget levels – or that he takes reasonable steps to ensure that they do not.

I realize that "innocent until proven guilty" would suggest that the burden of proof is on the opposing argument - that his involvement DID have an impact (or likely had) on budget levels - but I'm looking to win an argument, not come to a stalemate.


One additional question my friend brought up: How does Ron Paul determine which projects he will fund? Does his selection process legitimately promote the well-being of his district? Does he support projects that promote the likelihood of his re-election? Which is the focus?


Please keep this in mind before you tell me I'm an idiot (which may be true): I'm not trying to discredit Paul whatsoever – I'm trying to understand and vindicate him. I'm very strongly in support of Ron Paul on nearly every issue, and I earnestly desire to have him in the White House. This issue is being used by a good friend to discredit the sanity of my (and your) Ron Paul enthusiasm regarding his principled consistency. Again, this friend has been involved in the process before, and sincerely believes that we are blinded to Ron Paul's hypocrisy on this particular issue.



Thanks for all the comments everyone!

I called the DC office - whomever I spoke to was understandably hesitant to go into detail (as he did not know me other than that I directed him to this forum article). I just told him I was working on a forum discussion on this topic for this site, and he was polite and tried to be as helpful as he felt he could.

He mentioned that this is really a moot point as earmarks haven't been used since 2010. I couldn't really get at exactly how they are selected either - other than that they do not seek them out, they receive requests and decide which ones to put in for. What the basis is for THAT decision I couldn't really get at, and I didn't want to push it.

I expect that Dr. Paul considers both the value of the project and the impact it will have on the perception and decisions of the electorate in his district. That's what I would do anyway. I don't really think there's much of an issue here, though I would still like more info if anyone knows how to get it.

The person I spoke to also maintained that the earmarks do not increase spending. Dr. Paul has stated this same thing. I still believe there are missing pieces in my understanding regarding what it actually takes to get an earmark request approved - and whether or not a representative must convince the appropriation committee unofficially to approve their requests prior to the appropriations bill being released so that budget levels are adjusted to account for these earmarks. Without some much deeper investigation, I'm not sure how this could be determined. I would take issue with Ron Paul on this if it were determined that getting his earmarks through impacted spending levels - even if it were indirectly - because of his statements to the contrary. I believe that the legal process does not necessitate that earmarks increase spending, but I am undecided as to whether I think earmarks indirectly increase spending. I think most likely sometimes they do, and sometimes they do not. This would be difficult to prove either way. I would also still like more information on this if anyone has it.

I have discovered nothing in my investigation of this topic so far that diminishes my confidence in the consistent principled integrity of Dr. Paul. There is still information I would like to have on the issue, but thus far I have found little basis for legitimizing the criticism against Ron Paul's character regarding his approach to earmarks.



Ron Paul writes a short article on the issue:

...responds to earmark questions:

...discusses the issue in the debates:

...addresses the issue on the House Floor:

...questioned on the issue during "Meet the Press" (transcript):

...rated poorly on the issue by the Washington Post based on his "Meet the Press" interview:

...details funding requests on his official site: criticized by bloggers considering the nature of his funding requests as being inconsistent with his principles: defended by others:

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SIMPLE and EASY to UNDERSTAND. the lamest of all arguments

"earmarks" are a very good thing. in fact, ALL money spent by the government SHOULD be earmarked. it is the lack of earmarks that is bad. congress persons who do not earmark are NEGLECTING their job and leaving the decisions that THEY should be making to the unelected beaurocrats. NO, of course they do NOT increase spending if the bills are voted down.


Earmarks are already

included in the budget. I believe that earmarks are only 1% of the budget any how. In that regard, if earmarks were soley used to pay off the national debt, it would take 438 years to pay it off (assuming the national debt stayed the same for 438 years.) $3.7 trill (FY 12 budget) x .01 (earmarks) = $37 billion/year in ear marks. Now the national debt is $16.2 trill. Divide that by $37 billion a year. $16.2 trill/$37 billion per year = 437.84 years to balance the national debt (That assumes the national debt does not increase.) Quite a long time. And to soley use earmarks would not even make a dent in a balanced budget either. With that being said, all ear marks do is appropriate 1% of the budget, not raise the budget. Over the past three years the national debt has gone up by $5 trillion. $5 trill/3 years = 1.6 trill deficits / year. now multiply that to the 438 years it would take to balance the budget soley using earmarks. 438 yrs x $1.67 trillion = $731.46 trill added to the debt over 438 years + the current $16.2 trill debt =$747.67 trillion. Now that we have the estimated total of the national debt in the 438 years it would take to pay it off using soley appropriated earmarks, lets do the math to pay off the total incurred national debt over the next 438 yrs assuming we continue to incur $1.67 trillion/year deficits. $747.67 trill/$37 billion = 20,207.3 years to pay off the debt using just ear marks. Thus, ear marks are not the problem. Yes, some politicians use earmarks in an ugly way to pay back their donors (which we can all agree is a bad practice.) To hear someone say that earmarks raise the budget or the debt ceiling is a complete falehood. EarMarks apropriate 1% of said budget, and even if that 1% was designated to pay down the debt it would take 1/2 a melenia to pay off the national debt assuming the national debt stayed at current levels. Assuming we will continue racking up $1.67/yr deficits (last year the deficit was $2.3 trill, so one has to take account the the yearly deficits won't actually remain at $1.67 trill/year, and will actually continue to get larger and larger) one can come to the conclusion that earmarks are a drop in the bucket. It is the unlimmited spending that is the problem. We give more money in foreign aid/yr than we do

“When a well-packaged web of lies has been sold gradually to the masses over generations, the truth will seem utterly preposterous and its speaker a raving lunatic.” – Dresden James

This process

This process is actually quite simple; sadly this country is largely filled with people who "get" their views from Bill O'Reilly or Keith Olbermann types.

Everyone who has an "on the books" income pays federal income taxes. Some may be at a rate of 10%, or 15%, or on up to the 30%'s. An earmark is little more than a designation for how a certain amount of $ is spent. Let's say a congressman/woman represents a town of 10,000 workers, making an average of $40,000/yr. Let's say (for simplicity), that these workers all pay 15% federal income tax (we'll go with a straight 15% tax rather than the progressive tax for simplicity), on top of their state and local taxes. So these 10,000 workers will pay $6,000 each in federal income taxes, which is $60,000,000. The federal government gets that money from these people. It is their congressman/woman's responsibility to be sure that they receive their "fair share" of benefits from what they've paid into the system. Naturally, some of these expenses do not come back to the town directly, as some are used for collective causes, like military spending, various welfare programs, etc... But what DOES come back to the town, like say, a new interstate interchange, or a flood wall, etc, is earmarked by the congressperson.

Dr. Paul, in these such cases, is sure to REPRESENT his district by making sure they've monies allocated to them; after all, they've paid into the system. However, when the actual spending vote comes, he votes NO; as he disagrees with the whole federal taxation/payout system, especially in a time with an unbalanced budget. Simply put, if every congressperson did what Dr. Paul did, or at the very least, a majority of them did, then we'd never pass any of these "earmark" bills that supposedly bother neo-cons, and the deficit would never be increased by these bills as a result.

If Dr. Paul (and many of us, I presume) had our way, the federal income tax would be eliminated, or at the very least, greatly reduced to sub 10% for ALL incomes, and instead local and state taxes could be "increased" as voters see fit, to keep their communities how they see fit.

It's a fairly straightforward principle really. The more bureaucrats involved and at higher levels of government, the more money is wasted. If education, healthcare, and welfare programs were left to the state level, you'd not only see more efficient results in every aspect, but you'd see lower costs for the taxpayers, as there'd be less government employees who'd receive their "pay" from the collected taxes. Think about it; if nobody had to pay 10% to the federal government in income taxes, and instead, they paid higher local/state taxes (but still less rate than current federal taxes overall), cities/towns/states would be able to afford their projects independently, without federal help.

That's the big argument the liberal mindset makes; that we NEED federally funded programs, welfare and education, bridges and floodwalls, etc, because the cities/towns that get them are too weak and poor without the federal help. The truth is, however, if these people in the cities/towns/states were able to keep the money they pay to the federal government, and instead, invest independently, or pay through local/state taxation, these projects could still be done, and likely, with less money.

It's all about mentality. Do you think it's a person in Texas' responsibility/obligation to put food on the table of a person in Utah?

Dr. Paul "earmark spending" hasn't added a penny to the deficit. All he's done is get money back to the people in his district; money which they have already paid into the system. And again, if everyone voted how he did, the spending bills wouldn't pass.

I do not think so

I may be wrong but as I understand it. Earmarks are applied after the budget spending is already determined. In other-words the size of the budget is already set and earmarks are allocations of there the previously determined budget is distributed.

If I am wrong, someone chime in, but if this is the case, the answer is no. The budget was already far too big and Earmarks simply say where an already bloated budget will be spent.

Of course they create

Of course they create spending, but it is RP's job as a representative to do what his people want. They want the money.

Plan for eliminating the national debt in 10-20 years:


Specific cuts; defense spending:

once their money has already been taken from them

it would be irresponsible to his constituents, for him not to try to get some of it back for them.

Very interesting subject. Now let us consider...

the issue of earmarks as only a single component of the larger spending process. I think the below comments have done a good job illustrating that earmarks don't really create spending, they simply direct it. As for whether Dr. Paul spends money to the benefit of his constituents or merely to pander and win reelection, why can't both be accomplished? Not every spending project by the Federal Government has to be a free lunch for unions or a bridge to nowhere. A competent politician can easily spend money in a way that is both responsible and desirable to the constituents to which it belongs.

Now to ultimately determine if Paul's behavior increases spending or decreases it, imagine for a moment a Washington, DC full of Ron Paul clones. If each EVERY representative voted against EVERY unconstitutional spending measure and unbalanced budget (as he does), how would government look? Would we have a $15 Trillion debt? Would this parallel universe represent a spending increase, or decrease? It is simple to see that just looking at the earmarks (which are both responsible and constitutional) does not give a full picture of the process. Ron Paul has been voted the tax payer's best friend multiple times. If your friend wishes to understand the true ramifications of ear marks within the full context of budgetary action, he need only imagine what spending would be like in this parallel universe of Constitutional politicians who mirrored Ron Paul's example.

To look only at earmarks to guage spending is to exculpate the worst offenders. If your friend wishes to split hairs over the (Constitutional) spending of $1 million, $50 million, $100 million in Ron Paul's district, I suggest that he looks at someone like Santorum's record to see what real money looks like. Rick Santorum voted for programs such as Medicare Part D and No Child Left Behind, with those two bills alone adding several TRILLION in unfunded liabilities to this country's ledger. To give you an idea of the enormity of what a trillion looks like next to a million, think of $1 million as 1 million seconds. One million seconds would be about 12 days. A trillion seconds would be 31,688 YEARS. A trillion is so many orders of magnitude bigger than a million, it is almost an incomprehensible number. I'm not saying small amounts of money can't be spent irresponsibly, but if you are concerned about the budget, it's good to focus energy toward the real source of the damage. As your friend muses over the minutia of a handful of earmarks, multi-trillion dollar appropriations bills and welfare/warfare spending are sliding by unnoticed. Not that this subject isn't important, but it seems more like a witch hunt than an objective budget concern within the context of the problem as a whole.

Tu ne cede malis sed contra audentior ito

Maybe you can send your friend here ^^

There are lots of good posts here. The taxes are already in place, the money is going to come in. The earmarks only determine where that money is directed. Ron Paul's earmarks benefit those under his jurisdiction, not himself or some other special interest outside of his jurisdiction. He is no hypocrite.

"Moderation in temper is always a virtue; but moderation in principle is always a vice." -- Thomas Paine

Earmarks do not increase spending.

They direct the spending that is already in the proposed budget.
Any discretionary funding money that is not earmarked, goes to the president's discretionary spending.

Truthfully, every single penny should be earmarked.

Which I might add, Dr.Paul usually votes against

because it's an unbalanced budget that's put forth.

So yeah He does try to get some of it if it's going to pass anyway so that his constituents get their tax money back.

When I first heard that he uses earmarks but votes against the budget, I kind of scratched my head for a few seconds trying to figure that out lol.

It's actually a smart move.

Patriot Cell #345,168
I don't respond to emails or pm's.
Those who make peaceful revolution impossible will make violent revolution, inevitable.

They only

account for 2% of the federal budget.

Start with the entitlements and the Pentagon. They account for over 70% of all federal spending.

It's disgusting.

"It does not take a majority to prevail but rather an irate, tireless minority keen on setting brushfires of freedom in the minds of men."

--Samuel Adams

Yes it is disgusting..

When you think of them focusing on the little things and ignoring the largest problems.

Patriot Cell #345,168
I don't respond to emails or pm's.
Those who make peaceful revolution impossible will make violent revolution, inevitable.

Earmark all appropriations, lest well intended funds are sucked!

Earmark all appropriations, lest well intended funds are sucked into the General Fund. The Big Muddy suck!

    Ah, well, I am a great and sublime fool. But then I am God's fool, and all His work must be contemplated with respect.
    - Mark Twain, a Biography

The word "earmark" is abused, misused, & confused with wasteful spending. It is not the fault of this perfectly fit word. It is the fault of the miscreants that perpetrate word abuse, misuse, & wasteful spending. Misfits... the lot of them! You may provide worthwhile service to your fellow countrymen by teaching the meaning & proper public use of the word "earmark."


Disclaimer: Mark Twain (1835-1910-To be continued) is unlicensed. His river pilot's license went delinquent in 1862. Caution advised. Daily Paul


"do not" increase spending. An earmark is a place-marker for money that has already been approved in a budget, if the money isn't earmarked by Congress the President can use that money however he see's fit. It is the Congresses job to earmark money for their respective states projects, once a budget has been approved that money will be spent if there are earmarks or not, earmarks simply direct the money to a specific task. If your congressmen are not earmarking, they are not doing their job and the money your states citizens are paying in federal taxes is being taken by someone else.

The bold effort the present bank had made to control the government ... are but premonitions of the fate that await the American people should they be deluded into a perpetuation of this institution or the establishment of another like it-Andrew Jackson

Earmarks simply direct funding specifically.

Specify explicitly the intended purpose for any US governmental appropriation... Funding. That is the proper use of an earmark.

Improper use of the term "earmark" abound. Those seeking to discredit the use & term of "earmark" seek to apply credit where no credit is due.

Let no man put you asunder.

Disclaimer: Mark Twain (1835-1910-To be continued) is unlicensed. His river pilot's license went delinquent in 1862. Caution advised. Daily Paul


as i understand it, congress estimates how much money they will have to spend (for soc sec, etc) and other programs. extra money is alloted for special projects (earmarks). since this money is already in the budget, how could it increase spending? businesses from rp's district go to him and ask him to submit an earmark for their projects. dr. paul, believing that people are deserving of the fruits of their labor that the govt has taken from them thru taxes, submits their requests to congress. they in turn determine who gets the earmarks. dr. paul didn't start the earmark program, but he is obligated to serve his constituents who elect him. since the money has already been allocated it should be taken advantage of. at least dr. paul doesn't earmark the money that would profit him like a lot of the other congressmen do to enhance their properties or to help out their business associates.


Earmark all appropriations, lest well intended funds are sucked

Suck away, suck away all!
Mark & direct your spending,
Lest money-changers will call.

Cash away, cash away all!
Tuck & lock intended spending,
Lest money-changers change all.

Disclaimer: Mark Twain (1835-1910-To be continued) is unlicensed. His river pilot's license went delinquent in 1862. Caution advised. Daily Paul

Voted Down?

Not sure why this is getting voted down... is this the wrong place to discuss the issue?

"For this is the will of God, that by doing good you should put to silence the ignorance of foolish people. Live as people who are free, not using your freedom as a cover-up for evil, but living as servants of God."
(1 Peter 2:15-16)

Call His Office

Call his Congressional Office, either in Texas or in Washington. I'm sure they'll tell you what the criteria are.

As for your question, "Does his selection process legitimately promote the well-being of his district, or does he support projects that promote the likelihood of his re-election?" that's not an either, or question. Bottom line: if his constituents don't like it, they won't keep reelecting him.

Your friend needs to be put on the defensive in order to get him to answer his own questions: ask him, "Why does Ron Paul keep talking about doing away with the IRS when he knows it scares people? Why does Ron Paul keep going onto a show like The View and tell 5 women that abortion is wrong when he knows that most of the audience disagrees with him? Why does he say that the terrorists were responding to our prescence in Saudi Arabia (which they said), even when it's obvious Americans don't want to hear it?

When has he EVER said or done anything that makes you think he's doing it to get re-elected?

If he was power-hungry, don't you think he'd flip-flop to get votes? Can you point to any flip-flops he's ever done? Does he tailor his speeches to be different for every audience?

Your friend is grasping at straws, trying to be against Ron Paul for any reason, unsupported by the evidence. Challenge him to come up with some.

What do you think?

True, that's not a

True, that's not a well-worded question - should not be and either/or, but two separate questions. I will change it.

Great idea about calling his office! I will try to do that soon.

And yes, my assumption is that evidence will vindicate him. He's an imperfect person like the rest of us obviously, but I have found him to be so consistent and governed by principle elsewhere that I have a very hard time believing he will get snagged on this issue.

"For this is the will of God, that by doing good you should put to silence the ignorance of foolish people. Live as people who are free, not using your freedom as a cover-up for evil, but living as servants of God."
(1 Peter 2:15-16)

I don't know, and I hope you get someone who does--


Frankly, I find the entire thing confusing, and I've certainly tried to understand it--

it's hard to be awake; it's easier to dream--

Earmarks express directly how you want others to spend your cash

Think of an elderly lady sending a neighbor boy to the green grocer for tea.

Now, admittedly, the boy sees no fit purpose for tea. Sees no reason to buy dry leaves at the green grocer. He is not even sure of any purpose raking leaves in the Fall. Left to his own accord, he might stray. He might reckon a better purchase.

The otherwise perfectly polite elderly lady, grabs hold of the neighbor boy's ear... Draws him in close... Whispers in his ear, "You will come back with may tea & proper change. I trust you will. Now get along." The boy leaves on the lady's errand & takes with him his pinched ear as a reminder of proper behavior.

More harshly, historically earmarks were cuts on animal ears to mark ownership. The neighbor boy got off easy.

Disclaimer: Mark Twain (1835-1910-To be continued) is unlicensed. His river pilot's license went delinquent in 1862. Caution advised. Daily Paul

ha! Thanks, Mark . . .

. . . er Samuel--

Always good to read what you have to say, and it helps--

it's hard to be awake; it's easier to dream--

Always Good to Hear From You

Maybe we need more interventions by elderly neighbor ladies! Too many lactch-key kids haven't learned their basic lessons.

What do you think?