🚗 🚙 Turn your trusty old car into trustworthy journalism Learn more

Pork-barrel database is not digital

Nancy Marshall-Genzer Feb 14, 2008
HTML EMBED:
COPY

Pork-barrel database is not digital

Nancy Marshall-Genzer Feb 14, 2008
HTML EMBED:
COPY

TEXT OF STORY

Scott Jagow: Congress has some new rules about pork. But today, a watchdog group releases a database of this year’s earmarks. And they’re still pretty hard to follow. Nancy Marshall Genzer explains.


Nancy Marshall Genzer: Congress has thrown out some crumbs for us to follow through the earmark forest. House members now have to file letters that say who got the earmarks they requested.

But Taxpayers for Common Sense Vice President Steve Ellis says you have to trek up to Capitol Hill to see them — they’re not online.

Steve Ellis: If you happen to be a citizen in Peoria and you wanted to know what your member asked for, you’d have to get on a plane to Washington to actually get those letters.

The Senate’s disclosure letters don’t even say who got the earmarks. Other earmarks escape the light of day if they’re part of intelligence bills.

Bill Allison of the Sunlight Foundation says the secrecy raises questions.

Bill Allison: Are members of Congress directing money to the most useful organizations, or are they directing money to the ones that have made campaign contributions to them?

There is one bright spot among the earmark shadows: The number of earmarks this year was down 23 percent.

In Washington, I’m Nancy Marshall Genzer for Marketplace.

There’s a lot happening in the world.  Through it all, Marketplace is here for you. 

You rely on Marketplace to break down the world’s events and tell you how it affects you in a fact-based, approachable way. We rely on your financial support to keep making that possible. 

Your donation today powers the independent journalism that you rely on. For just $5/month, you can help sustain Marketplace so we can keep reporting on the things that matter to you.