Hawaii Loves Pork
The $1.1 trillion Senate omnibus spending bill has plenty of earmarks for the Islands. Here’s a list of all of them.
Yes, kalua, of course. But also federal tax dollars. You have no doubt heard that the U.S. Senate is proposing a $1.1 trillion omnibus spending bill. Critics contend it is filled with earmarks—nearly 7,000 of them!—and this despite President Obama’s statements about curbing earmarks as “the old way of doing business in Washington.”
Oklahoma Senator Tom Colburn has posted all the earmarks in the omnibus bill on his senate web page. You can download it the whole thing here:
I went through it and found all the Hawaii earmarks; you can download that list here. If I missed any, feel free to catch me in the comments.
By my count, there are 116 earmarks, for everything from harbor modifications to hurricane evacuation studies. The earmarks include money for some specific local interests—Bishop Museum, Boys & Girls Club, Easter Seals, The Food Self-Reliance Kohala Center. No doubt these groups and their beneficiaries would be happy to have the money, but when the federal government is facing a deficit measured in the trillions of dollars, is it out of bounds to ask why the feds are ponying up for narrow, local interests? Is that not what we have state and county government for?
If the feds want to replace the runway warning status lights at the Honolulu International Airport (and they do, that’s one of the earmarks), I get it. Interstate transportation. But federal money for local community colleges to develop curricula? What’s the compelling national interest here? What’s in it for the 49 other states? (Never fear, in the earmark shell game, I’m sure our locally derived federal tax dollars will be paying for something that benefits a few hundred people in Arkansas.)
Well, download it, read it, see what Congress is up to, then feel free to defend or castigate these Hawaii earmarks in the comments.
UPDATE: The Hawaii earmarks total $161,885,000.
UPDATE: … and the bill has just been pulled. Still, always interesting to see how these earmarks work. Wouldn’t be surprised to see these reintroduced in whatever spending bill replaces this one.