Nice Try, Betsy

“Hundreds of millions of dollars in unspent transportation earmarks would be returned to the federal treasury under a bill introduced Wednesday by Rep. Betsy Markey.”  Don’t get me wrong.  I am all in favor of cutting spending, particularly earmarks dedicated to spending our money on projects that accomplish little more than enshrining the names of guys like Robert Byrd and John Murtha on highway signs and airport names.

But there’s this: “Markey’s office included a list of projects totaling $713.2 million that could be affected by the bill. If all that money was returned to the treasury, it would reduce the debt by about 0.005 percent.” 

On the other hand, the healthcare bill Rep. Markey voted for will do this: “CBO estimated that the health legislation will increase the federal budgetary commitment to health care (which CBO defines as the sum of net federal outlays for health programs and tax preferences for health care) by nearly $400 billion during the 2010-2019 period.”  I suspect that this $400 billion is the bare minimum, since the cost estimates of new legislation are nearly always a tad low:

[In 1965], Congressional actuaries (CBO wasn’t around then) expected Medicare to cost $3.1 billion in 1970. In 1969, that estimate was pushed to $5 billion, and it really came in at $6.8 billion. House Ways and Means analysts estimated in 1967 that Medicare would cost $12 billion in 1990. They were off by a factor of 10—actual spending was $110 billion—even as its benefits coverage failed to keep pace with standards in the private market.

So thanks, Rep. Markey.  I appreciate the attempt (likely to fail in this Congress) to retrieve $713 million in unspent earmarks from the past 20 years or so.  But I am still sending money to Cory Gardner, and I hope you enjoy your retirement.

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Published in: on July 15, 2010 at 11:05 am  Leave a Comment  

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