Earmark crusader still takes credit for SOME funds going back home

Jim DeMint deserves a lot of credit for his crusade against earmarks. While we were reminded recently by Andrew Sorensen that earmarks are not necessarily always a bad thing — they’ve brought significant research funding to our universities — there’s no question that the whole process was out of control. Sen. DeMint has played a leadership role in embarrassing Democrats and Republicans alike on the issue, and on the whole I think that has had a salutary effect.

I was a little taken aback the last couple of days, though, when I received releases from Sen. DeMint announcing grant money for schools back here in South Carolina. No, they weren’t technically "earmarks." But by "announcing" these grants that were ostensibly "competitive" — which suggests that they were disbursed according to some criteria other than the political pull of a member of Congress — he is participating in the standard political practice of suggesting to the home folks that he is somehow responsible for this largesse.

And that, of course, is why politicians go after earmarks — so they can say to the folks back home, "Lookee what I brung you!" Here’s the release I received today:

Department of Education Awards $955,101 in Competitive Grants to Richland and Lexington School District 5

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Jim DeMint (R-South Carolina) announced that Richland and Lexington School District 5 will receive $955,101 in competitive grants under the Teaching American History Grants program. This grant is designed to raise student achievement by improving teacher’s knowledge, understanding, and appreciation of U.S. history.  The program also aims to improve the quality of history instruction by supporting professional development for U.S. history teachers.


These releases do not cancel the cred Mr. DeMint has earned on the
earmarks issue. And they’re not a lot of money, and this one sounds like it’s
for a good cause (Lord knows we need to increase the level of understanding about our history in this country). They just seemed worth taking note of.

12 thoughts on “Earmark crusader still takes credit for SOME funds going back home

  1. Doug Ross

    A million bucks to teach American History?
    What exactly are the history teachers doing now?
    Thanks, Senator DeMint, for taking credit for spending other people’s money. If you’re so enamored with the concept, why don’t you put some of your own money toward the cause?
    I guess we’re supposed to praise him for not wasting as much money as the rest of them. The ethics bar is set pretty low for politicians.

  2. weldon VII

    The methods by which we fund education strike me as bizarre, the grants process and so much per student in the 45-day count, in particular.
    And, what, DeMint actually might have sort of helped his home state get some money out of the federal government? How dare he? We should just be funding earmarks for Hillary in New York and Byrd in West Virginia, shouldn’t we?

  3. Jay

    It’s weird, because this is the sort of stuff that happens when people deal in absolutes. It wouldn’t even raise an eyebrow, and he could take credit for it, if he crusaded against reducing earmarks, or being sensible about where money goes instead of acting like there is no such thing as a good earmark. On the other hand, being sensible and rational about a topic isn’t necessarily good politics, and definitely won’t garner much press.

  4. Michael Rodgers

    Will they teach that the Civil War is over? I hope so. It’s quite strange when people tell me that since they’re not dead the Confederacy is not dead. It’s strange because these people don’t look 150 years old; some of them don’t look a day over 22.

  5. bud

    This grant is designed to raise student achievement by improving teacher’s knowledge, understanding, and appreciation of U.S. history.
    Sounds like DeMint is trying to have his cake and eat it too. He’s secured what is obviously a plate full of pork for his home state while spouting off against earmarks in a different setting. Why do we need a grant to increase teacher’s knowledge and understanding of U.S. history? Don’t they learn that in College? Brad, you are going far too easy on DeMint here. (But at least you brought it to our attention; and for that I’ll give you credit).

  6. Doug Ross

    There should be a very easy way for taxpayers to see exactly how this million dollars is spent — without having to file Freedom of Information Act requests.
    Let me speculate that the money will be used to pay for an administrator of the program, conferences around the country, high priced education consultants who will create white papers on how to improve the quality of history education, and then, finally, a multitude of trophies to be handed out to all the participants.
    It would be better to spend the money on history books, DVD’s, and field trips.

  7. Jay

    The Federal Funding Accountability and Transparency Act created an internet database of just that, Doug. It was also known as ‘Coburn-Obama’. What’s that? Obama actually accomplished something? I thought he was full of empty rhetoric and hadn’t done anything….

  8. weldon VII

    “Sounds like DeMint is trying to have his cake and eat it too.”
    Bud, you take the cake.
    Like Brad wrote above, a grant is not an earmark. Some school systems actually hire grants officers to apply for grants for this specific purpose, that specific purpose, this study of how the wings of a paper airplane should be folded, etc.
    If you want to talk about pork, Bud, tell us about Clyburn’s bridge to nowhere.

  9. bud

    Just for the record I’m oppossed to Clyburn’s bridge. I also thought the Ravanel Bridge, though a replacement for the old bridges was badly needed, was far too expensive. A cheaper solution was rejected by Mayor Riley. So there you go, I can be critcal of Dems when the issue warrants.

  10. sandhill

    It sounds like this money was getting awarded with or without DeMint lifting a finger.
    What’s the point of earmarks if you can get the same effect by announcing competitive grants?

  11. rick campbell

    …since demint is against s-chip and also any type of health care for middle clas, let us see if he will donate his government paid for medical insurance that covers everyone in his family…the same government he puts down but he does not mind them paying for HIS healthcare does he?

  12. rick campbell

    ….but then again what can you expect from a guy who thinks twenty year old aluminum tubes are WMD”s!…i will take the pentagons word (this time) against demint and sean hannitty…


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