Pork barrel projects or earmarks are added to the federal budget by members of the appropriation commitees of the United States Congress. This allows delivery of federal funds to the local district or state of the appropriation committee member, often accommodating major campaign contributors. To a certain extent a member of the House of Representatives (or Congress) is judged by the ability to deliver funds to their constitutents. The Chairman and the ranking member of the U.S. Senate Committee on Appropriations are in a position to deliver significant benefits to their states.
According to Wikipedia.org (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pork_barrel) the term pork barrel, while literally meaning a barrel in which pork is kept, is more commonly used as a political metaphor for the appropriation of government spending for projects that are intended primarily to benefit particular constituents or campaign contributors.
Pork barrel politics refers to government spending that is intended to benefit constituents of a politician in return for their political support, either in the form of campaign contributions or votes.
Typically it involves funding for government programs whose economic or service benefits are concentrated in a particular area but whose costs are spread among all taxpayers. Public works projects and agricultural subsidies used to be the most common examples from years past but George Bush has significantly changed that. Pork barrel today can range from any pet project by Congress and most have become the favored spending habits of Republicans. Most pork barrel spending is often allocated through last-miniute additions to appropriations bills, which has become the ‘norm’ in the last decade. Remember Sen Ted Stephens from Alaska and Sarah Palin who spent millions of Americans tax dollars to ‘build a bridge to nowhere’!
Citizens Against Government Waste has done a host of research over the past several years, documenting pork barrel spending by Congress, allocated dollars and government sponsors. I encourage every American to visit their website and see where your money is being allocated.
Below is a summary of Pork Barrel projects and the costs to taxpayers over the past 18 years! It is easy to visualize how the government has substantially grown and how it does not matter whether it is a Democrat or Republican Administration or a Democrat or Republican Congress. Both feed equally at the American tax payer trough; therefore the coined phrase "liberal Democrats" now includes "LIBERAL REPUBLICANS". That being said, Republicans have excessively fed in greater dollars and greater numbers during the Bush Administration that at any other time. George W Bush's increases are almost double those of Bill Clinton's and his do not even include the dollars spent on the Iraq and Afghanistan wars.
This is party of John McCain and Sarah Palin
US Government Pork Barrel Spending See full chart
Year Administration # Projects Cost
1991 George H Bush 546 $3.1 Billion
1992 George H Bush 892 $2.6 Billon
Total projects 1,438 Cost to taxpayers $5.7 Billion
1993 Bill Clinton 1,712 $6.6 Billion
1994 Bill Clinton 1,318 $7.8 Billion
1995 Bill Clinton 1,439 $10 Billion
1996 Bill Clinton 958 $12.5 Billion
1997 Bill Clinton 1,596 $14.5 Billion
1998 Bill Clinton 2,143 $13.2 Billion
1999 Bill Clinton 2,838 $12 Billion
2000 Bill Clinton 4,326 $17.7 Billion
Total projects 16,330 Cost to taxpayers $94.3 Billion
2001 George W Bush 6,333 $18.5 Billion
2002 George W Bush 8,341 $20.1 Billion
2003 George W Bush 9,362 $22.5 Billion
2004 George W Bush 10,656 $22.9 Billion
2005 George W Bush 13,997 $27.3 Billion
2006 George W Bush 9,963 $29 Billion
2007 George W Bush 2,658 $13.2 Billion
2008 George W Bush 11,610 $17.2 Billion
Total projects 72,920 Cost to taxpayers $170.7 Billion
Total All Projects 90,68 Total All Costs $270.7 Billion* George W Bush spent 44.76% more than Bill Clinton- * George W Bush spending does not include costs for the Iraq War.