Republican candidate Mariannette Miller-Meeks called on Rep. David Loebsack to serve his constituents and reform the congressional practice of behind-closed-doors budget earmarks that continue to drive the cost of government higher.
On Thursday, the nonprofit, nonpartisan Citizens Against Government Waste reported that Congress approved more than 11,000 earmarks that added $17.2 billion to this year's federal budget. Those projects were deemed "pork barrel projects" by the group if they met one of seven criteria: a request by just one member of Congress; no specific authorization; no competitive award; no presidential request; a greatly increased budget amount compared with the previous year; serving only a local or special interest; or no congressional hearing.
Loebsack, a Mount Vernon Democrat, said he "hasn't decided" whether to make public the earmarks he sought. Meanwhile, he supported his party's plan that requires voters to go to Washington, D.C. to obtain a list of earmarks in person rather than having those public expenditures posted on the internet or published by the media.
"Iowans don't need a medical degree to see that David Loebsack came down with the fastest case of Potomac Fever on record. He promised to be an "agent of change" but he's really become an agent of the status quo in Washington," Miller-Meeks said. "The people of the Second District need a member of Congress who is committed to representing us rather than voting with Nancy Pelosi 98 percent of the time."
She added, "I will work hard to ensure that the Second District receives its fair share of federal funding, especially for veterans' care and programs for older citizens, but we have to rein in this costly practice of earmarking. David Loebsack and his Democratic allies said they were going to do but they've shown neither to discipline nor the ability to get the job done."
Miller-Meeks, an Ottumwa ophthalmologist, favors a suspension of earmarks until reforms can be put in place, including a requirement that those who seek earmarks are clearly identified and that all proposed earmarks are made so that the public is given time to review and comment on them. She also proposes a separate vote on any earmarks inserted into legislation.