So what if Congress ends earmarks.? There are still lettermarks and phonemarks, among the many ways members of Congress — including the outspoken Tea Party types — work to send lard home to their constituents. The task ahead is to watch as new members of Congress do as they say they intend to do — eradicate profligate federal spending — or merely try to find new ways to play the same old game. Consider:
Steve Ellis of Taxpayers for Common Sense, a nonpartisan group that tracks federal spending, refers to such financing as “undisclosed earmarks.” These expenditures end up in a bill at the request of lawmakers or military contractors, but the source of the request does not have to be disclosed because the provisions do not meet the Congressional definition of an earmark.
The 2010 military bill, for example, contained expenditures that the Pentagon did not want: $2.5 billion for C-17 transport planes; $825 million for all-terrain vehicles; $732 million for other planes, and $500 million for a second engine for the F-35 jet.
Taxpayers for Common Sense found 146 such undisclosed earmarks totaling nearly $6 billion in 2010 spending bills.