Inhofe's earmark efforts unwavering, welcome
BY World's Editorial Writers
Saturday, February 26, 2011
2/26/11 at 6:05 AM
One thing you can say about U.S. Sen. Jim Inhofe: He doesn't back down, even when his objective is unpopular.
The Oklahoma Republican has teamed up with a California Democrat to request possible projects in the next major water resources bill about to be drafted. Sen. Barbara Boxer is chairwoman of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, and Inhofe, who used to be chairman, is now the committee's ranking Republican.
The committee has enormous power in determining what major infrastructure projects receive federal funding. But that power is in question now, thanks to anti-earmark fever sweeping through the nation's Capitol. Even President Barack Obama has joined in, promising to veto any bill containing earmarks.
The earmarks in question have received authorization for funding (but not necessarily the funding) through the committee process. They've become a symbol of government overspending, though they account for only 1.5 percent of discretionary spending.
Inhofe insists that the money directed to earmarks would be spent anyway, but by nameless, faceless bureaucrats who aren't answerable to any local constituency.
We agree with Inhofe's stance and hope he is successful in obtaining more funding for Oklahoma water projects. The simple truth is that if it weren't for the efforts of leaders like Inhofe and the others who are willing to advance earmarks, less populous states like Oklahoma would never get needed help on these fronts.
Case in point: Inhofe managed in 2007 to obtain authorization for up to $50 million for ecosystem restoration, recreation and flood damage reduction components of the Arkansas River Corridor Master Plan. It's arguable that those are federal purposes, and there's little likelihood such objectives could be realized using state or local funding.
It's true that some earmark projects should never have been approved. But the ones being pushed by Inhofe and other members of Oklahoma's congressional delegation have been studied extensively and found at all levels to be important, worthwhile projects.
Oklahoma's other senator, U.S. Sen. Tom Coburn, staunchly opposes earmarks and has pushed measures to block them.
Our question to Coburn and other foes of earmarks: If you feel so strongly about government spending, why not target the spending behemoths that really wreck the federal budget, like defense spending and entitlements?
Original Print Headline: Pro-earmark