Do Ron Paul's Earmarks Increase Spending?Submitted by clifford on Thu, 03/22/2012 - 11:05
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.
RON PAUL’S INVOLVEMENT:
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.
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:
...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:
...is criticized by bloggers considering the nature of his funding requests as being inconsistent with his principles:
...is defended by others: