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Congressional Earmarks Decline Sharply

Peter Orszag, director of the Office of Management and Budget, reports on his blog that earmarks have declined sharply, down 17 percent in volume and 27 percent in dollar value between 2009 and 2010:

For too many years, the practice of congressional earmarking continued virtually unabated. During the 10-year period that ended in 2005, according to the Congressional Research Service, the number of earmarks skyrocketed, increasing by more than 400 percent and reaching a level of more than 16,000. This increase was particularly troubling because all too often, earmarks are an easy vehicle for special interest deal-making – inserted into congressional spending bills without filter for merit, need, priority, or any scrutiny by the public, the media, or other members of Congress.

The Administration has just completed its count of the earmarks contained in the Fiscal Year 2010 appropriations bills, the last of which the President signed into law in mid-December. Although more needs to be done, the news is encouraging: earmarks are down by double-digit percentages….These reductions build on the progress that has been made on earmarks since 2006, reductions prompted by a series of reforms that then-Senator Obama helped to write – including bringing more transparency and disclosure to the process.

In a later post, he accounts for discrepancies between his numbers and those produced by Taxpayers for Common Sense, the federal budget watchdog.

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