By Deneen Borelli
March 25, 2009
In July of 1967, Detroit and Newark were bathed in fire and blood. Anguished and hurt, people in poor and minority communities in these cities had had enough of crippling policies foisted on them by the ruling political establishment. They stood up and screamed for change.
In the collective melees, 66 died, 1,914 were injured and around 8,500 people were arrested.
It was an uprising against police brutality. It was an uprising against poverty. And it was an uprising against urban renewal and the government’s abuse of eminent domain.
Meant to acquire land for public projects, eminent domain was used as a sledgehammer against blacks rather than a scalpel on behalf of the community. Neighborhoods were torn asunder so others didn’t have to see “slums.”
Back then, this sort of urban renewal was derisively called “negro removal.” Today, it could be repeated by the “Pickens Plan.”
You’ve probably seen T. Boone Pickens on television. He’s the Texas billionaire promising to reduce our dependence on foreign oil by building windmills. He pleads with us to take his word for it that his plan will work and that we should hurry to build wind turbines across middle America.
But the devil is always in the details, and acting without caution risks repeating the injustices that sparked the 1967 riots.
The Pickens Plan calls for wind farms in places such as Texas and the Dakotas, with power supplied to cities through a massive new network of power lines. Pickens wistfully compares this proposed power grid to the interstate highway system.
That’s the problem.
When the 46,000-mile interstate highway system was built to move the privileged between cities and to their new homes in the suburbs, planners paid little mind to the property rights of those living in the way of their idea of progress.
Historian Raymond A. Mohl noted that roadbuilding in the early 1960s dislocated 33,000 people a year. By 1969, that number was up to 200,000 annually.
Some saw these new roads as a tool to pave over black communities already in decline. In Detroit, it was Paradise Valley – also known as “Black Bottom.” In Newark, it was the Central Ward.
New power lines for the Pickens Plan would run 12,650 miles. Where will those lines run? More than likely through communities that have the least political power to oppose them.
Washington, D.C.’s poor Anacostia neighborhood certainly won’t get the preferential treatment that residents of Middleburg, Virginia did. A newly-announced power line near there was designed to go around Civil War battlefields and the estates of horse country’s rich and famous.
Pickens will also likely profit from his plan, despite his downplaying it, thanks to our tax dollars. Wind energy projects benefit from a federal subsidy known as the Production Tax Credit (PTC).
Pickens’ Mesa Power company once hoped to spend $10 billion dollars on a 2,700-turbine wind farm in Texas. According to a report by the National Center for Public Policy Research, “Pickens’ firm stands to receive between $1.66 billion and about $3 billion in PTC payments alone over ten years, a significant portion of its original investment.”
When oil prices fell, however, so did interest in the Pickens Plan. Mesa Power is now scaling back its wind farm proposal.
But Pickens seems to have the ear of President Obama. In his February congressional address, Obama promoted wind power over the fossil fuels currently accounting for the overwhelming percentage of America’s energy production. This would give new and unnatural life to the Pickens Plan.
It will be a true test of Obama’s administration as to whether it will look out for and protect the property rights of people in the communities that supported and prayed for him, or if he will risk more of the racial strife he says he wants to overcome to help big business interests.
If Obama sides with Pickens, he won’t be delivering the kind of change that people voted for.
Deneen Borelli is a fellow for the Project 21 black leadership network. Comments may be sent to DBorelli@nationalcenter.org. New Visions Commentaries reflect the views of their author, and not necessarily those of Project 21 or the National Center for Public Policy Research.
The Obama budget ignores the economic crisis.
By Yuval Levin
Posted: Monday, March 16, 2009
Weekly Standard -- Volume 014, Issue 25
Publication Date: March 9, 2009
Last September, during the first presidential debate between Barack Obama and John McCain, moderator Jim Lehrer asked Obama what the growing economic crisis would mean for his policy ambitions: “What are you going to have to give up, in terms of the priorities that you would bring as president of the United States, as a result of having to pay for the financial rescue plan?” Obama’s answer was so evasive that Lehrer asked him if he really meant to say that essentially nothing would change.
Over the past two weeks, we have seen something of a reiteration of that answer in practice. Obama indeed meant that no part of his agenda would be given up to pay for the economic recovery. On the contrary, recovery efforts will be undercut in favor of the new administration’s sweeping liberal ambitions.
The stimulus plan enacted last month came under fire for its many flaws and excesses. But the debate about the plan was a debate about how best to stimulate the economy. Both sides essentially called for throwing money at the public; the Democrats preferred vast new government spending and the Republicans deep if temporary tax cuts. Both sought to use the crisis to advance their preferred political vision, but both sought to do so in ways addressed to some of the real economic problems at hand.
The Democratic plan that was signed into law was an incoherent wasteful mess, but it is likely to stimulate the economy some. It could be (as it often was) sold as something like the New Deal: an ambitious and ideologically laden response to a genuine economic crisis.
But the Obama administration’s proposed 2010 budget, unveiled just a week after the stimulus plan was signed into law, cannot be advanced on such grounds. It is certainly ambitious and certainly ideologically laden, but it is not a response to the economic crisis. Rather, it denies the crisis and complicates the effort to combat it.
The budget offers an audacious array of technocratic initiatives aimed at transforming the relationship between Americans and their government and moving the country in the direction of European social democracy. It sets the stage for a vastly expanded federal role in the health insurance market–as one “option” among many to begin with, but with the help of price controls and the power to set rules of entry guaranteed to soon be the reigning, if not the only, option. It puts the federal government in command of a complex scheme of carbon-emission taxes and credits. It opens the way for a significantly increased federal role in education (including higher education).
These programs are not directed at the economic emergency, but are instead unrelated, enormous policy initiatives. They are not akin to the New Deal but to the Great Society initiatives of the mid-1960s, which were the outcome of a progressive worldview that wanted to change the character and role of government in American life. But the Great Society was not enacted in the midst of an economic crisis. It came in the middle of a lengthy and sustained period of growth and prosperity and was in part understood as a way to make use of the tax revenues flooding federal coffers. The kind of ambitious expansion of government Obama envisions requires similar economic growth.
Watching the market these days, and listening to economists’ predictions (not to mention the president’s own dire speeches before the enactment of the stimulus bill), you might think such growth is exceedingly unlikely in the short term. But the Obama budget simply assumes it will happen: predicting the economy will begin a sustained expansion this year and grow by 3.2 percent in 2010, 4 percent in 2011, and 4.6 percent in 2012.
Yet even as it assumes such a prompt and thorough recovery, the budget plants obstacles in its path. It raises taxes by a trillion dollars on the 2.5 million or so American taxpayers who earn above $200,000 a year (or $250,000 for a couple), and a further $646 billion through a proposed cap-and-trade system that, as administration officials have acknowledged, will be paid by all Americans through higher electricity bills.
The budget will double the national debt held by the public by 2015, and by 2019 the White House predicts that debt will equal 67 percent of the country’s GDP (up from last year’s 41 percent). Such spending ambitions send a signal about future tax and interest rates that can only depress investment.
And, most important, as it lays out its ambitious agenda, the Obama administration is doing little about the source of the economic calamity we confront: the banking and credit crisis. The budget includes a placeholder for further action but no particulars, and those have not been forthcoming from elsewhere so far. Amazingly, six weeks and two vast legislative proposals into his administration, the president has not said what action he will take to address the bad debt that has turned some of our largest banks into dead men walking and continues to debilitate our economy.
This combination of counter-productive action and baffling inaction only unnerves investors and is deeply anti-stimulative. The administration appears to have decided to look past the economic crisis and start spending the windfall of the coming recovery, even if that spending comes at the expense of the recovery itself.
— Yuval Levin is the Hertog fellow at the Ethics and Public Policy Center and senior editor at the New Atlantis magazine.
You Can Shock President Obama,
A Special Election Will Stun Washington.
In just two weeks you can send a powerful message to Congress, the Senate, President Obama – and even the coddling liberal media.
You can express your outrage over President Obama’s plan to increase taxes by more than $1 trillion in the middle of an economic crisis!
You can send a powerful message to Obama and the Democrats who control the House and Senate that you OPPOSE their new, wild federal spending programs – and the trillions of dollars of federal debt that they are placing on you and your families for generations to come.
Here’s how you can send this powerful message – one that will shock Washington.
On March 31 – just weeks from now – there is a Special Congressional Election in the 20th District of New York.
This district includes Albany and the area just north of New York City.
Voter registration shows that the district leans Republican.
This seat was recently vacated by Democratic Rep. Kirsten Gillibrand who resigned to be appointed to the U.S. Senate. That position opened after Hillary Clinton resigned to become Obama’s secretary of state.
Polls now show that the Republican can actually win this district!
There is huge dissatisfaction with the Democrats and Obama – even voters in liberal New York are getting fed up.
The Republicans have picked Jim Tedisco as their candidate.
Jim is a solid conservative on both fiscal and social issues.
As the New York Assembly Republican leader, Jim Tedisco waged lonely battles against New York’s dangerous liberal policies – policies that have turned the state into an economic basket case.
Jim also has – against all odds – won some big battles. It was Jim Tedisco who led the fight against Gov. Eliot Spitzer’s insane plan to issue New York State driver’s licenses to illegal immigrants.
Imagine allowing potential terrorists to easily get driver’s licenses.
Jim Tedisco rallied county clerks and elected officials to force Spitzer to abandon this naÃ¯ve and dangerous plan.
If Jim Tedisco wins, I believe the Democrats in Congress, including many “Blue Dog Democrats,” will be shocked and scared.
We want to urgently help elect Jim Tedisco – Click Here Now.
If conservative Jim can win the New York congressional seat recently held by Democrat Gillibrand, this will strike a massive blow to the claim that swing voters are really backing Obama, Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Majority Leader Harry Reid.
This is why Obama and the Democrats in Washington are pouring everything they have into this race to keep this seat Democratic.
The Democratic bosses even picked a multimillionaire named Steve Murphy as their candidate.
Murphy, a big backer of liberal Sen. Chuck Schumer, is already putting big bucks into his own race.
But many voters in his district are appalled. Murphy is a Wall Street executive who made millions by shipping U.S. jobs to India. Now Murphy wants to buy a seat in Congress.
By stopping Murphy and the Democrats in this congressional district, we can help stop more phony “stimulus” programs, stop higher taxes, stop Eric Holder’s plan to ban our guns, stop card check for unions, and stop Obama’s plan to legalize 12 million illegal aliens.
We can win this one and stop Obama’s plans.
The public polls show Murphy right on the heels of Tedisco, with Tedisco holding a narrow lead.
The polls also show that if all Republicans and conservative-leaning Democrats and independents come out to vote in this Special Election, Tedisco will win.
New York Gov. David Paterson even called the election for March 31 in the hopes that Republicans can’t get organized in time to compete with the well-oiled political machinery of the unions and the notorious left-wing community group ACORN in turning out votes for Murphy. Help us stop these liberal groups – Click Here Now.
The Working Families Party (WFP), which has endorsed Murphy, is directly affiliated with ACORN, the left-wing community organization charged with voter-fraud in last years presidential election. ACORN is notorious for phony voter registrations, multiple voting, and other voter fraud tactics.
Left-wing organizer Bertha Lewis, who is directing the field effort by the WFP to elect Murphy, sits on the ACORN board. ACORN and the WFP are funded by the exact same left-wing unions, and they intend to deliver for Scott Murphy.
Republicans are bracing for millions of dollars to be spent on behalf of Murphy as ultra-liberal special interest groups like the Moveon.org PAC, Pelosi’s Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, and 1199: the National Health Care Workers’ Union, all pour money into this New York district.
But I have little doubt we can still win this election.
That’s where you and The National Republican Trust come in.
We at The National Republican Trust are mounting a major effort to alert Republicans and conservatives that this vital Special Election is on March 31.
It is urgent for them to vote in order to send President Obama a message and send shock waves across the country.
Again – the polls show Republican Jim Tedisco will win if every Republican votes! This will have repercussions well beyond the borders of New York.
Send a shockwave to Washington – support our efforts – Click Here Now.
The National Republican Trust is preparing hard-hitting television ads to make sure voters know this crucial contest is between conservative Republican Jim Tedisco and liberal Democrat Steve Murphy is on March 31.
We urgently need your help to puts these hard-hitting commercials on the air.
We can’t out-spend the liberals. With Barack Obama in the White House they have unlimited funds to pour into the 20th District.
But we can reveal the truth. And truth has much more power than the spin and distortions the Democrats are offering.
With your help we hope to launch a sophisticated get-out-the-vote effort to reach every Republican household and identify those conservative Democrats and independents who agree with us, and make certain they turn out and vote for Jim Tedisco.
Make no mistake about it, the union bosses, ACORN, the anti-gun lobby, Speaker Nancy Pelosi, and the Democratic national establishment will each be pouring hundreds of thousands of dollars – if not millions – into their efforts to elect liberal Murphy.
One local newspaper speculated that the liberals and unions would spend as much as $1.5 million to win this contest in order to avoid embarrassing President Obama with a stunning defeat.
That’s why you and I must act TODAY – Click Here Now.
With just weeks before this showdown Special Election, we must move immediately to make sure that the Republican majority in this district know how high the stakes are.
They must know the difference between proven conservative Jim Tedisco, with a 25-year record as a solid conservative leader, and Wall Street fast-talker Steve Murphy who tries to sound conservative but who is beholden to Nancy Pelosi, the AFL-CIO, and the liberal special-interest groups.
Please consider making a contribution to The National Republican Trust so that we can begin a well-organized effort to get every Republican and Republican-leaning independent out to vote to win this seat.
Let’s demonstrate to the liberal media that the Republican Party and the ideals of Ronald Reagan – fiscal conservatism, patriotism, and common sense – are not dead!
Believe me when I tell you that Jim Tedisco’s election is the first step in taking back Republican control of the Congress in 2010 and ousting Obama from the White House in 2012.
The hour is late. We must move immediately to launch our effort to turn back the tide and take the first small step towards winning back the Congress in 2010 and the White House in 2012 before Obama and his liberal cohorts destroy this country.
Please contribute to this urgent cause – Click Here Now.
The National Republican Trust needs your help to win. Jim Tedisco, a solid conservative leader, needs your help and America needs your help.
Please let me hear from you today – Click Here Now.
Yours for America,
P.S. At a time when liberal talking heads like Chris Matthews Rachel Maddow and Keith Olbermann are saying the Republican Party is dead, we have a unique opportunity to prove they are wrong and wipe the smile off their smug liberal faces! I hope to hear from you today. Please donate to us today – Click Here Now.
It’s raining, pouring, economic fallacies by the hour, followed by a flood of horrible policy that is driving us ever further into economic depression. The regime in charge has really gone nuts, revealing itself as both deeply ignorant and horribly evil.
We find ourselves facing the horror of what has always been the Achilles heel of the left wing: its abysmal ignorance of economic science. The ideological tendency has gone from Keynesianism to outright socialism in a matter of a few weeks.
And the trajectory seems to be accelerated mainly by the logic of the interventionist cycle: bad policy leads to bad results that are addressed through bad policy, and so on, straight down the fast track to serfdom. Obama’s attachment to “transparency” — the buzzword of the day — allows all intelligent people to observe the sickening sight in real time, and to the cheers of the kept class of intellectual phonies like Ben Bernanke and Paul Krugman.
The encouraging thing — and perhaps this too was inevitable — is that the right wing is getting its act together. It has suddenly discovered that economics matters. You can cheer on the hot wars, fight the culture wars, and crack down on political dissidents all you want. But in the end, what makes for the good society is a sound economy. Without it, all the rest falls apart.
Thus all our favorite conservatives are starting to make sense. The American Spectator is alarmed. Rush Limbaugh sounds like LRC. The American Conservative has temporarily dropped its love of protectionism to warn of dollar inflation. The love of war has gone AWOL at National Review. The Heritage Foundation is warning that government spending and taxation are driving us to ruin. Pat Buchanan is defending the free market!
Where were these people during the last eight years of Bush’s misrule? Asleep or seeking preferment or something. It’s not as if Obama caused this crisis; he is only making it worse. In any case, the Right has begun to turn to the side of truth and justice, precisely as they did during Clinton’s rule, and this is all to the good, in general.
But just in case we are observing yet another expedient shift, it might be a good idea to understand precisely why socialism is a bad idea. The Obama administration doesn’t seem to get it. And there is plenty to get. Socialism crushes human rights, builds the state, impinges on the liberty of conscience, and breeds social, cultural, and economic degeneration.
People have made those points for hundreds of years. Somehow, and for whatever reason, many people rejected these critics. No, they said, all of this sounds plausible, but you don’t understand how the sheer glory of the socialist ideal, with perfect equality and social justice, will bring about a new sense of things. Mankind will be inspired to share, create, work, and obey by the astonishing emergence of a completely new form of social organization.
Without market prices for capital goods, accounting is not possible. You don’t know if you are making money or losing money, saving resources or wasting them, doing the right thing or not doing the right thing. Think of all the decisions that have to be made on the production end that require you to know whether you are wasting resources or not. With steel, do you make more buildings or trains? Or do you make cutlery or computers? Or cars or cables?
You can’t just rely on assessing consumer demand. The demand for stuff is infinite. What matters are choices in light of foregone alternatives. These can’t be discerned with polls or intuition. What matters here is the weighting of all alternative uses of resources. They can only be worked out in real time, in light of the choices of consumers and the profitable production decisions of producers.
None of this is possible if you don’t have real market prices providing the real stuff that makes cost accounting possible. Collectivize property and you abolish the market for capital goods. No prices emerge. Every choice you make is arbitrary. There is no more rationality remaining. You just end up groping around in the dark.
No socialist has ever been able to provide an answer to Mises’s devastating point. And why? Because no socialist has seriously thought through how their cockamamie system would work. Lenin used to say, oh whatever, just run the whole economy the same way the post office is run. But notice: the post office has a problem with innovation, pricing, cost accounting, and making ends meet. Its only source of life comes from the competition provided by private competitors. The post-officeization of the entire economy would mean a return to barbarism.
Mises’s illustration of the failure of socialism provides a fantastic means to discover what is right about markets and wrong about all forms of collectivized economic planning. It shows what happens when you nationalize banks and credit. But it also shows what is wrong with all bureaucracies.
Mises put all his criticism together in a single book, a book that remains the definitive refutation of the entire intellectual apparatus of socialism. It is a classic, a must-read, a treasure for all ages. To read it is to be amazed. It has changed the minds of millions of people since it appeared in 1922. It is the one book that utterly crushes the economic agenda of the Left, revealing what fools they really are.
Mises’s point has also been a fruitful one for further theorizing about all forms of collectivism. See, for example, Hans-Hermann Hoppe’s Theory of Socialism and Capitalism.
And look: it’s not as if socialism is a new idea. It was tried in the 20th century. It produced economic stagnation and despair. In its purest form, it extinguished more than one hundred million people. That’s why The Black Book of Communism must be owned and read and understood by every thinking person. It is the most terrifying book you will ever read. It is a standing rebuke to any living soul who claims that economic understanding doesn’t matter.
Take this seriously: it is where the Obama tendency is leading us.
Economy: In the aftermath of the largest spending bill in U.S. history, even experts are struggling to understand the details: “It’s chaos” | Jamie Dean
Illustration by Krieg Barrie
Visit President Barack Obama’s still-functioning campaign website, and you’ll find a list of pre-election promises. A prominent one: “Obama and Biden will stop funding wasteful, obsolete government programs that make no financial sense.” Another: “Obama and Biden believe that a critical step in restoring fiscal discipline is enforcing pay-as-you-go budgeting rules.”
But as Congress headed into negotiations over a nearly $800 billion economic stimulus bill, pay-as-you-go notions evaporated. Brian Riedl of the Heritage Foundation put it simply: “Congress does not have a vault of money to pump into the economy.” Instead, Congress will borrow the funds, adding to an already $1.2 trillion deficit projected for this fiscal year.
The president insists massive spending is a necessary triage for a spiraling financial crisis, but Riedl and other economic analysts questioned the urgency: for example, $650 million for the government’s campaign to prepare Americans for the analog-to-digital television transition in June. (The government has already spent $1.3 billion on the project.) Other examples: $1 billion for the 2010 census, $300 million to combat domestic violence, $158 million for national parks operations, $100 million for a lead-reduction program in low-income housing, and $25 million for substance abuse programs on Indian reservations.
These may be worthy programs, but analysts like Riedl say they are less about stimulating the economy and more about enacting an agenda: “Congress has dusted off their long-term spending wish list and written the world ‘stimulus’ on top of it.”
With about 70 percent of the stimulus bill devoted to spending, examining the contents of the measure is instructive. The first major legislation of the new Congress and new administration offers a telling preview of the priorities and plans that lie ahead:
Obama promised big spending for federal programs during his campaign, and he began delivering in the stimulus bill. Among the biggest line items:
Health care: The House-approved version of the bill devotes nearly $90 billion to increases in Medicaid, representing one of the largest spending items in the bill. The measure included another $40 billion for health insurance assistance for the unemployed, funding up to 65 percent of workers’ COBRA bills. (The Senate-approved version of the bill funded half.) The House slated another $20 billion for Health and Human Services and created a 15-member federal health board that would research costs of care and medicine to determine which treatments the federal government would pay for. That means federal employees could cut certain treatments for patients relying on federal health care.
Education: The House approved as much as $66 billion for education, including renovations for elementary and secondary schools, and another $79 billion in state grants for education and other needs. A murky process for awarding education grants could mean that already well-funded school districts receive an influx of cash. For example, The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported that officials in the city’s public school system say most school facilities are in “good-to-better-than-good condition.” The system has 15 vacant buildings and declining enrollment but could receive $88 million for new construction under the stimulus.
Energy: The House bill devoted $48 billion to energy-related projects, including a host of programs aimed at developing renewable energy and modernizing the nation’s electrical grid system. But Dana Joel Gattuso of the National Center for Public Policy Research says so-called green programs represent long-term projects rather than emergency stimulus. Gattuso points out that Congress has already spent billions on renewable energy with minimal results, and that creating jobs in renewable energy programs would take years. Michael Moynihan, director of the Green Project in Washington, D.C., told The Los Angeles Times that job creation from modernizing the electrical grid wouldn’t come quickly either, since designs for the massive project don’t exist: “Before you spend billions of dollars on new lines, you have to spend billions of dollars on design work.”
Other: Democrats say more than 30 percent of the stimulus package represents tax cuts, though the Congressional Budget Office counted nearly $100 billion of those purported cuts as spending. The reason: The credits would go to people who don’t pay taxes.
Riedl of the Heritage Foundation thinks the tax cuts might not be effective, saying many people may not save or invest $400 to $800 in tax credits. He favored a Republican-sponsored plan to cut individual and corporate tax rates, saying such cuts would be more stimulative for the economy.
The House plan also provided as much as $47 billion for transportation infrastructure projects. That figure represented less than some analysts expected for such projects.
With billions in spending, Riedl summarized what he called the bill’s flawed philosophy: “The bigger the government, the faster the economy grows,” and said debt-based decisions could be detrimental to the economy. Republican Gov. Mark Sanford of South Carolina bucked the trend of local governments clamoring for federal funds and told CNN: “We’re moving precipitously close to what I would call a savior-based economy.”
As Congress worked to dole out money, it also worked to attach restrictions to funding. Among the most alarming: a provision restricting religious groups from worshipping in college or university buildings repaired with stimulus funds. The provision also banned “sectarian instruction” in such facilities, as well as classes related to schools or departments of divinity.
Sen. Jim DeMint, R-S.C., introduced an amendment to drop the prohibition, saying: “This language is so vague, it’s not clear if students can even pray in a dorm room renovated with this funding since that is a form of religious worship.” The Senate defeated DeMint’s amendment but later dropped the entire funding section from the bill. The language remained in the House version as the bill went to the final negotiation process.
DeMint spokesman Wesley Denton said the prohibition was disturbing whether it remained in the final bill or not and said the original passage represented “an attack on people of faith.” He worries that Congress may try to slip similar provisions into future bills.
Kevin Hasson of the Becket Fund said the prohibition likely wouldn’t stand in court and pointed to equal-access laws that allow churches and religious groups to meet in government buildings. Still, he said, “This is the first thing out of the box for the Obama administration, and they’re groping for some way to reign in religion on college campuses. That’s troubling.”
Also troubling: funding restrictions on private schools. Both versions of the bill prohibited stimulus funds from going to private schools, even if families use government vouchers to pay for such schools. (The Senate version made exceptions for schools serving special needs students.)
If you express confusion over the stimulus process to David Williams of Citizens Against Government Waste, he’ll make a confession: “I’m just as confused as you.” Since the stimulus bill isn’t a regular spending measure, the process for developing it is murky, he says: “It’s chaos.” And since the plan includes pots of money for unspecified projects—including projects that don’t yet exist—it’s unclear how Congress will dole out cash.
Williams scoffs at Obama’s contention that the stimulus package doesn’t contain “a single pet project” or “a single earmark.” Williams says projects like the digital television transition might not technically qualify as earmarks because of the nature of the bill, but they still represent wasteful spending. And he says legislators will essentially earmark funds for projects as they distribute grants later: “The truth of it is, this is business as usual.”