Texas Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison ranked in the top fifth among U.S. senators in her ability to bring federal tax dollars for specific projects back to her home state, according to a new study by Taxpayers for Common Sense.
Hutchison, a Republican, was able to win approval for funding 38 projects at a cost of $27.8 million for 2010, putting her 19th among the 100 men and women in the U.S. Senate, according to the new rankings. Hutchison's spending on what is known in political parlance as earmarks has surfaced in her bid for governor, and the Dallas Morning News earlier this month highlighted Hutchison's designation by the watchdog group Citizens Against Government Waste as runner-up "Porker of the Year."
Critics say earmarks invite abuse and steer funds away from more important projects. ... Hutchison has defended the earmarks practice and boasted of her ability to get funding for Texas projects.
The state's other senator, Republican John Cornyn, ranked 54th in the study, helping to direct $3.6 million to eight projects in Texas.
The Texas senators were veritable pikers compared to the top two gatherers of earmarks. Robert Byrd, D-W.Va., a perennial leader, tops the Taxpayers for Common Sense list, winning approval for $251.2 million for 85 projects in 2010. Daniel Inouye, D-Hawaii, was second at $205 million for 66 projects. No other senator secured more than $102 million.
The Taxpayers for Common Sense study includes databases comparing senators, listing all directed projects and their cost and answering frequently asked questions about this process of federal tax redistribution.
“The increased earmark transparency in recent years reveals a troubling pattern during difficult budget times," Ryan Alexander, president of Taxpayers for Common Sense, said in a prepared statement. "High levels of special interest spending remain and powerful lawmakers are hoarding cash for their districts while the rest of the Congress fights for table scraps. Instead of simply rewarding the constituents or campaign contributors of the politically powerful, our taxpayer dollars must be spent on only the most critical and important projects nationwide.”
Taxpayers for Common Sense describes itself a nonpartisan budget watchdog with the goals of increasing transparency, exposing and eliminating wasteful and corrupt subsidies, earmarks, and corporate welfare.