How Conservatives Sell Off the Federal Budget, Bit by Bit, to the Highest Bidder

by James Goodwin | May 02, 2016

Once upon a time, congressional conservatives pretended to care about the appearance, if not the reality, of corruption afflicting the federal budgeting process. Strangely, they chose to act on their sanctimonious outrage by banning earmarks – or legislative instructions that direct federal agencies to spend appropriated funds on certain specified projects – while leaving the much greater problem of "limitations riders" intact. These riders essentially function as the reverse of earmarks by prohibiting federal agencies from spending appropriated funds on certain specified projects, and today, they are typically used to block public safeguards at the behest of powerful corporate interests. 

Last year, I published a report along with CPR Member Scholars Tom McGarity and Richard Murphy that examined the growing problem of anti-regulatory limitation riders in the current Republican-controlled Congress. To highlight this problem, we looked at the then-pending Fiscal Year 2016 Interior and Environment Appropriations bills moving through both chambers of Congress. These bills, which are used to fund the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Department of the Interior, were larded with dozens of anti-regulatory riders that targeted several critical rules those agencies were working on, including rules to limit carbon dioxide pollution from power plants, protect public health and the environment from harmful ozone, and safeguard fragile headwater ecosystems against the ravages of mountaintop removal mining. 

If enacted into law, these kinds of anti-regulatory riders would be disastrous for the public interest. For example, our report found that just ...

New CPR Issue Alert: Earmarking Away the Public Interest

by Erin Kesler | July 09, 2015
House GOP’s “Negative Earmarks” in Appropriations Bill Would Undercut Key Protections and Cost Thousands of Lives Today, the Center for Progressive Reform released a new Issue Alert, “Earmarking Away the Public Interest: How Congressional Republicans Use Antiregulatory Appropriations Riders to Benefit Powerful Polluting Industries.” The report, by CPR Member Scholars Thomas O. McGarity of the University of Texas School of Law and Richard Murphy of Texas Tech University School of Law and CPR Senior Policy Analyst James Goodwin, examines “negative ...

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