COMMENTS: Fauna & Flora

Crickets…beavers…swine…poultry…blackbirds…blueberries…hybrid grapes. These fauna and flora were all the target of Jonathan Karl's sarcasm in his Your Money feature on ABC. Funding for each project had been earmarked by a member of Congress--from Utah and Mississippi and Iowa and Georgia and Kansas and New York--and added to the federal omnibus spending bill. Karl condemned the line items as porkbarrel spending. "With the exception of the period right after September 11th, this bill includes the biggest increase in federal spending since 1978 thanks, in part, to the millions earmarked for blueberries, blackbirds and crickets."

Okay, Jonathan, take a deep breath and relax.

The total size of the spending in the omnibus bill is $410bn. There are 9,000 earmarked projects in the bill. The eight singled out averaged $1.23m. Assuming they were typical, all 9,000 earmarks would total $11bn, which is less than 3% of the total. Those weasel words thanks, in part save Karl's report from being inaccurate--but it certainly seems designed to mislead.


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