12/26/08 - WSJ.com Review and Outlook --> Article
"Doling out money" in Congress is a desired position and a respected skill, recognized by Obama in a welcoming and bipartisan manner.
[edited] Obama nominated Illinois Republican Congressman Ray LaHood to head the Transportation Department. He is a longtime member of the House Appropriations Committee and a spending superstar. He supported without apology the big spending that helped Republicans lose their majority in 2006. In fiscal 2008 he arranged $62.7 million in earmarks for his district, in the top 10% of House pork-barrelers.
He said, "The reason I went on the Appropriations Committee, the reason other people go on the Appropriations Committee, is they know that it puts them in a position to know where the money is at, to know the people who are doling the money out and to be in the room when the money is being doled out."
He said, "If people like Ray LaHood [himself] and others aren't able to earmark dollars, that money will be spent by some bureaucrat in Washington, D.C. And, who knows better how to spend money on worthwhile projects than a community and an individual Congressman?"