The time for platitudes and kicking the proverbial can down the road when it comes to making the tough choices to reduce our deficit spending and rein in our national debt has passed. For far too long, too many politicians have talked a good fiscal game while running America into a pending financial collapse.
The U.S. government is over $30 trillion in debt and will spend $900 million per day in interest payments on this debt. To pay off our country’s debt, every man, woman and child in the United States will currently have to pay $90,000. Instead of focusing on reducing the federal government’s spending problem, many D.C. politicians are back to their old ways and again spending massive amounts through the process known as earmarks.
From 2011 to 2021, earmarks were banned in Congress, and for good reason. First, earmarks are wasteful. Recall the “Bridge to Nowhere,” that spent nearly $400 million and accomplished nothing.
Second, earmarks foster corruption. Members of Congress and lobbyists have gone to jail for misusing earmarks to get members to vote for things they wouldn’t otherwise vote for, and members of Congress have even been caught using earmarks to pave roads they live on and build airports for their own personal convenience.
And third, earmarks are like Lay’s chips: Betcha can’t eat just one! According to the Heritage Foundation, there was a 282% jump in earmarks placed in appropriations bills from 1994 to 2011. Sadly, career politicians have picked up right where they left off, including over 4,000 earmarks in the recent $1.5 trillion omnibus bill. One senator alone received over $500 million in earmarks. And the total cost of earmarks in this one bill to the American taxpayer? Over $4 billion.
This is bill crap.
Republicans and Democrats should reject earmarks, use the normal appropriations process to fund the government, and have the best local projects compete, as has traditionally been done when not using earmarks, for worthy expenditures. This isn’t an archaic or outdated process, it’s actually an effective way to approve the spending of your tax dollars with necessary accountability.
Since joining Congress, I’ve proven that members of Congress can successfully advocate for local priorities while rejecting the corrupt earmark process. In fact, I recently secured nine important victories for rural Colorado through the regular, nonearmark process. These include:
1. $1.74 billion for Community Health Centers to serve rural communities;
2. $515 million for the Payments in Lieu of Taxes (PILT) program so counties can fund education, law enforcement and infrastructure;
3. $48 million for the U.S. Forest Service to address the bark beetle infestations ravaging Colorado and to actively manage our forests;
4. $1 million to compensate farmers for livestock lost to wolves;
5. Important pro-life protections like the Hyde and Weldon amendments;
6. Preventing the greater sage-grouse from being listed as an endangered species and locking up our lands;
7. Exempting livestock haulers from burdensome Department of Transportation electronic logging device mandates;
8. Important federal resources for NASA and Colorado’s space programs; and
9. $10 million for the Indian Irrigation Fund to benefit the Southern Ute Tribe and combat drought.
Advocating for local issues and being a fiscal conservative aren’t mutually exclusive, and I reject the thought that earmarks are the best way for Congress to appropriate the tax dollars of hard-working Americans.
I will continue not to request earmarks and recklessly spend America further into financial bankruptcy. But I will go to bat for our communities and continue to secure more wins, like the nine above, through the normal appropriations process.
I was sent to Congress to legislate as a conservative, and that’s exactly what I’ve done. And as your congresswoman, I’ll continue to deliver conservative victories for rural Colorado.
Lauren Boebert represents Colorado’s 3rd Congressional District in the U.S. House of Representatives.