How many millions – probably billions – must be expended to shore up known gaps in homeland security? No one seems to know for sure, but it’s certainly not an insignificant sum. And we’ve known about these gaps for many years – some going all the way back to 9/11. They include everything from emergency preparedness and medical countermeasures to border security and an aged Coast Guard.
Against this backdrop of lingering shortfalls in homeland security spending, the 2016 Congressional Pig Book, produced by the nonpartisan, nonprofit Citizens Against Government Waste, revealed $5.1 billion was wasted on 123 pork barrel congressional earmarks in fiscal year 2016, an increase of 21.4 percent over the $4.2 billion in pork barrel spending in fiscal year 2015.
“While the increase in cost over one year is disconcerting, the two-year rise of 88.9 percent over the $2.7 billion in FY 2014 is downright disturbing,” Pig Book authors said.
What’s worse, this is the fourth time since Congress enacted a moratorium on earmarks in fiscal year 2011 that lawmakers have continued to approve pork barrel earmarks.
Publication of the 2016 Pig Book marks 10 years since the record earmark amount of $29 billion in fiscal year 2006. “In order for earmarks to reach that level over the next decade, legislators would need to increase the cost of earmarks by $2.4 billion annually,” authors noted. “Unfortunately,this is not out of the question given its growth over the past two years.”
“The earmarks … enacted since the initiation of the moratorium raise disturbing questions for the future, particularly because representatives and senators from both sides of the aisle continue to clamor for their revival,” they continued. “Earmarks corrupt democracy by eclipsing more important matters in the minds of legislators and voters.”
But it’s not just all this pork that could – should – be better spent. There’s also a whole lot of waste inside the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) itself that should – and still could – be put to better use. Just a cursory reading of DHS inspector general (IG) audit reports proves this.