Posted: 11:47 pm Wednesday, December 16th, 2009
By Jamie Dupree
I can tell that readers of my blog have gotten bored with the repeated stories that I have done this year about home state earmarks in various budget bills working through the Congress. That kind of reaction is exactly why lawmakers keep going to the trough each year.
The defense bill that’s now before the Senate has over 1700 earmarks, worth just over $4.1 billion by my calcuations. More than ever, those earmarks are being used to funnel funds to a specific state’s National Guard.
Among the many projects:
*$2 million for “Advanced Trauma Training” for the Illinois National Guard.
*$2 million for a “Training Aid Suite” for the Vermont National Guard
*$2.4 million for Alaska National Guard Counter-Drug programs
*$300,000 for a Delaware National Guard anti-drug task force
*$800,00 for a Nevada National Guard “Joint Operations Center”
*$5 million for Virtual Trainers for the Tennessee National Guard
*$2.4 million for a Machine Gun Training System for the Pennsylvania National Guard
*$1.5 million for a Mobile Firing Range for the Texas National Guard
Those are just a few. Most of them are probably needed, but it’s clear that lawmakers are using the Defense budget more and more to funnel money back home.
For example, two members of the Georgia delegation won $2.8 million for “Covert Waveform for Software Defined Radios” in the budget.
That money will go to a Georgia company named Scientific Research Corporation, located in Atlanta, which means jobs for a local company.
Another example is $4.2 million obtained by two members of the Florida delegation for the Nicholson Center for Surgical Advancement, located in Celebration, Florida, near Orlando.
Rep. Alan Grayson (D-FL) wasn’t shy about advertising why he asked for this money in the Defense budget:
“The funding will lead to the direct creation of 50+ high tech jobs over a five (5) year period (average wage of $55,000) in Central Florida and the indirect creation of 20+ high tech jobs due to new collaboration initiatives,” Grayson said.
Here is another one that required a little digging, $1.6 million for “Integrated Engine/Starter Generator” supported by Rep. Mike Turner (D-OH) and Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH).
A few Google searches later showed that the money was going to a General Electric Aviation facility outside Dayton, Ohio, where Congressman Turner is the local Representative.
“Work on this program is also being performed at Ohio State University and the University of Dayton Research Institute,” says one brief explanation that I found. Even more of a local link.
Again – let me say clearly – there is nothing inherently wrong with these examples. Lawmakers are bringing home the bacon from the Defense budget, and creating new jobs.
But the fine print is always interesting to see.
If you are interested in reading through the earmarks, they are located in the last part of the report on the Defense budget bill, which you can download at http://bit.ly/8UKHrX .
One warning – it is a 25 Megabyte pdf file. But have fun. I know you’re secretly interested.