WASHINGTON, April 14 (UPI) -- A Washington non-profit watchdog group said Tuesday $19.6 billion in "earmarks" for individual projects were approved by Congress in fiscal year 2009.
Citizens Against Government Waste said in its new "Pig Book" while the number earmarks declined by 12.5 percent, from 11,610 in fiscal year 2008 to 10,160 in 2009, the total tax dollars spent to fund them increased by 14 percent, from $17.2 billion to $19.6 billion.
"The current Democratic congressional majority is following the same trajectory as their Republican predecessors," said CAGW President Tom Schatz. "They came into power promising to cut earmarks, and made a big show of it during their first two years. However, as the 2009 Pig Book amply illustrates, pork-barrel spending is growing fast."
Schatz said his group found 221 earmarks worth $7.8 billion funded in circumvention of Congress's transparency rules, which he said were particularly prevalent in the 2009 Defense Appropriations Act, which reportedly included 142 anonymous earmarks worth $6.4 billion.
Topping the CAGW's list of "pork barrel" spending was $3.8 million for the Old Tiger Stadium Conservancy in Detroit. Supporters of that project deny the "pig" label, telling CNN it's a worthy attempt to revitalize the economically hard-hit "Rust Belt" city.