Back in 2011, my friend Sen. Tom Coburn helped lead a movement against earmark or “pork barrel” spending in Washington. He convinced a Republican majority in Congress to ban the practice that allows legislators to direct taxpayer dollars to pet projects, companies owned by political donors, and other wasteful initiatives.

I remember he once referred to this victory as his greatest accomplishment while in Congress. Earmark spending is a scourge on the American taxpayer, and it’s one of the reasons we find ourselves $27 trillion in debt.

As Sen. Coburn put it, earmarks are the “gateway drug on the road to the spending addiction.”

Congress has functioned just fine since 2011, but now Democrats are launching a movement to lift the ban on pork and bring back “member-directed spending” (a euphemism worthy of Washington, if you ask me).

As reported by Just the News, Sen. Pat Leahy is spearheading the effort, and it may very well succeed.

Now, for the first time in a decade, the practice may have enough momentum for a revival. Leahy has endorsed bringing back earmarks several times over the years, and his office now says that he “has been clear about his intent to restore congressionally-directed spending in a transparent and accountable way as part of Congress’ constitutional power of the purse.”

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Putting aside the decades of abusive, wasteful spending, the last 24 hours have given the American people all the evidence they need to oppose this effort.

The Democrat’s $1.9 trillion “coronavirus relief” package may not technically include earmarks, but it’s still packed with enough pork to give the American people a heart attack. Here are just a few of the items in the bill:

  • “Small business” relief funds for Planned Parenthood
  • $600 million for additional emergency paid family leave for federal employees and U.S. Postal Service workers
  • Subsidies and loan forgiveness to farmers and ranchers on the basis of race and ethnicity
  • Funding for colleges that have partnerships with Chinese-controlled companies
  • $50 million for “environmental justice” grant programs

In other words, the same Congress that would use the COVID-19 pandemic to give handouts to their preferred special interests wants the American people to trust them to keep earmarks “transparent and accountable.”

Give me a break.

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Sen. Coburn tragically passed away last year, and with his death America lost one of its last great statemen. Few in Congress have the courage or fortitude it would require to oppose pork barrel spending, as we’ve seen time and again during the COVID-19 spending negotiations.

We can’t trust Congress to limit their own spending or get our nation’s finances under control. That’s why Sen. Coburn joined the Convention of States movement as our senior advisor. He spent the last years of his life fighting for a Convention of States because he knew that only the people—acting through their state legislatures—have the strength and bravery to limit Congress’ spending.

A Convention of States is called by the states under Article V of the Constitution and has the power to propose constitutional amendments that impose fiscal restraints on Congress, including a permanent pork barrel ban.

It’s the solution Sen. Coburn worked to implement. It’s the solution the Framers would want us to use. And it’s the solution we need to finally get our nation’s finances under control.

About The Author

Mark was a co-founder of the Tea Party Patriots, and served as the national coordinator. He left the organization to work more broadly on expanding the self-governance movement beyond the partisan divide. Mark appears regularly on television in outlets as diverse as MSNBC, ABC, NBC, Fox News, CNN, Bloomberg, Fox Business and the BBC. He’s highly sought after for the tea party perspective from print and electronic media outlets, from the Wall Street Journal, New York Times, L.A. Times, Washington Examiner, Politico and the The Hill. Mark blogs at, and his opinion editorials regularly run in many of the leading political newspapers both on and offline. Mark has a BA in English from San Diego State University and graduated with honors from University of the Pacific, McGeorge School of Law in 1988. He practiced real estate and business law for almost a decade. For the last eleven years of his legal career he specialized in Internet advertising law. When not fighting for the future of our nation, Mark is an avid horseman, and lives in rural northern California with his wife Patty and two children.