Most of us know about the “Freshman 15“, a colloquialism that refers to the amount of weight many college freshmen gain during their first year in college as a result of not exercising proper dietary discipline (and gaining easy access to beer, no doubt).
Given that Congress typically lacks even the most rudimentary sense of fiscal discipline and that we have a new crop of Democratic freshmen who are facing their first House re-election cycle this year, it comes as no surprise that these freshman have, like their collegiate counterparts, acquired more than a little pork during their first year+ in office.
Democratic freshmen in the House were among the biggest recipients of earmarked funds, often surpassing much more senior colleagues by millions of dollars.
Take Rep. Phil Hare (D), a freshman from western Illinois. He received $92.2 million worth of earmarks, almost the same amount as House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), according to the TCS analysis. The group compiled a database of every earmark passed in 2007.
Working with other lawmakers, Hare managed to attach his name to tens of thousands of dollars more in earmarks than Rep. Jim Oberstar (D-Minn.), chairman of the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee.
Freshman Rep. Keith Ellison (D-Minn.) helped secure $69.9 million worth of earmarks, surpassing senior members of the Appropriations Committee such as Reps. Alan Mollohan (D-W.Va.), Rosa DeLauro (D-Conn.), Frank Wolf (R-Va.) and even House Majority Whip James Clyburn (D-S.C.).
Democrats came into office promising a change in the way the Congress was going to do its business along with changes in military policy among others. They have failed to keep virtually every one of those promises, although it must be said that their failure to pull America’s troops out of Iraq is for the best.
Not so with their spending habits. “I’m not an opponent of earmarks,” said Keith Ellison. That didn’t stop him from making out like a bandit, though.