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Pig Book’: Cost of Earmarks Rose in 2009

Citizens Against Government Waste’s new “Pig Book— — the group’s annual report on Congressional earmarks — claims that while the number of earmarks has dropped in this year’s spending bills, the total cost of those earmarks rose 14 percent over last year.

The CAGW identified 10,160 earmarks worth $19.6 billion in the 2009 appropriations bills — a decline in the number of earmarks but an increase in the total cost of earmarks from $17.2 billion in fiscal 2008.

Another anti-earmark group, Taxpayers for Common Sense, is estimating the total cost of earmarks in the 2009 spending bills as a slight drop from the $18.3 billion in its tally for 2008.

The CAGW identified Sen. Thad Cochran (R-Miss.), ranking member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, as Congress’ top earmarker, raking in $653 million worth of projects. Rounding out the top five in the Senate were Appropriations Chairman Daniel Inouye (D-Hawaii), Sen. Roger Wicker (R-Miss.), former Appropriations Chairman Robert Byrd (D-W.Va.) and Sen. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa). Wicker had been a top earmarker when he was in the House but noted that many of the earmarks were joint projects that he and Cochran supported.

In the House, the top earmark recipients were Reps. Neil Abercrombie (D-Hawaii), Stephanie Herseth Sandlin (D-S.D.), Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii), Jim Moran (D-Va.) and former Appropriations Chairman Bill Young (R-Fla.).

CAGW president Tom Schatz said Hirono and Abercrombie apparently earned their spots on the list by co-sponsoring earmarks with Inouye.

The CAGW linked its “Pig Book— this year to a nationwide series of “tea parties— being organized around the country on tax day to protest dramatic increases in government spending, inviting an organizer of the tea parties to speak at the CAGW press conference.

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