"They shouldn't have an inside track to funding because of who they know, or because of the power of that individual member." -- Sen. Claire McCaskill on why she doesn't accept earmarks.
Southwest Missouri will receive $31 million dollars as part of the omnibus spending bill signed by President Obama Wednesday.
$2.6 million dollars for the Springfield-Branson airport. $1.2 million for Route 60 bridges. $1.4 million for the Jordan Valley Clinic. Around $20 million for area lakes.
All of those dollars are courtesy of earmarks, delivered by Senator Kit Bond.
But critics, like Sen. Claire McCaskill, believe the earmark spending process is out of control and needs to be reformed. She has sworn off earmarks, accepting none.
Earmarks are specific projects that are slipped into budget bills by a single Senator without much oversight. Seniority makes Senator Kit Bond one of the most prolific earmarkers in Congress. He's proud of that, and so are officials at Springfield National Airport.
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Also: Comments from Shawn Askinosie, Kent Boyd
"I believe that the earmarks that I put in will continue to help Missouri grow." -- Sen. Kit Bond, defending $86 million dollars in earmarks he's bringing back to Missouri as part of the mid-year budget bill.
MORE PERSPECTIVES ON EARMARKS:
"Our review of 7,760 earmarked projects valued at $8.05 billion within Federal Highway Administration, Federal Transit Administration and Federal Aviation Administration -- which accounted for 99 percent of these earmarked projects -- disclosed that 7,724 of the 7,760 projects were either not subject to the agencies' review or selection processes or bypassed the states' normal planning and programming processes," according to a 2007 Office of Inspector General Report about transportation earmarks.
"We've got about $20 million dollars out of $117 million dollars that come from the federal government. Earmarks. This place wouldn't of happened without those earmarks. I suppose in an idealistic sense that earmarks are bad, but the reality is they do help get things done," said Kent Boyd of the Springfield-Branson National Airport.
"I would say that if this money is going to be spent, that we have to have a process in place other than applying to the office of Roy Blunt and Kit Bond," said businessman and Republican Shawn Askinosie.
"The circa 1980s expansion of the Springfield airport terminal was a Danforth project. As I remember, it was accomplished by persuading the Secretary of Transportation to allocate discretionary funding, an earmark. In other words, the same as actual in-bill language. Sen. Danforth was Chair of the Senate Commerce Committee, which is DOT's oversight committee. He used his position in the Senate to get something the Springfield area needed," said Steve Hilton, a former press aide for Sen. Jack Danforth.
"Earmarks that members do seek must be aired on those members websites in advance. Each earmark must be open to scrutiny at public hearings. Any earmark for a for-profit, private company should be subject to the same competitive bidding requirements as other federal contracts," said President Barack Obama, laying out his proposed earmark reforms Wednesday.
"It is a bit incoherent to hear him saying this as he signs a bill stuffed with thousands of pork-barrel projects worth tens of billions of dollars . Actions speak louder than words," said Tom Schatz of Citizens Against Congressional Waste, who also praised Obama's arguments against earmarks.
"The President could have resolved this issue in one statement - no more unauthorized pork barrel projects - and pledged to use his veto pen to stop them. This is an opportunity missed," said Sen. John McCain.
"He should simply have said, I'm vetoing this, send it down Get 4,000 of the earmarks out and send it back, and you pick 'em. And I want to show you I mean business," said Pat Buchanan, MSNBC political analyst on the President's decision.
"He would've clogged up business in both the House and the Senate at time when he can't afford to do that," said Lawrence O'Donnell, MSNBC political analyst, responding to Buchanan's suggestion.
(Some of the Steelman folks are out of town, so maybe that lessens the chance of this poll being hacked. Play nice . . . I'll be watching your cookies.)