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July 14, 2006
Tapscott To Testify On Pork Database

Mark Tapscott, who has worked tirelessly against pork-barrel spending at his own blog, the Heritage Foundation, and now as editorial page editor at The Examiner, will testify in the Senate on July 18th on the impact of a proposed federal spending databse on journalism. The subcommittee on Financial Management, Government Information, and International Security ... needs a name change ... but also will hear testimony on Tom Coburn's bill creating an Internet database of all federal spending, searchable and open to all:

Sen. Tom Coburn will convene a hearing July 18 of the Senate's Subcommittee on Federal Financial Management, Government Information and International Security to "highlight the lack of transparency in federal spending decisions, as well as the merits of legislation to create a website disclosing the recipients of all federal funding."

There will be two panels, with the first consisting of senators John McCain, R-AZ, and Barack Obama, D-IL, who are with Coburn co-sponsors of the Oklahoma senator's proposal to create a publicly accessible, searchable database of all federal spending, subject only to common-sense exemptions such as national security.

The second panel will include Gary Bass, founder and executive director of OMB Watch, a liberal-oriented citizens watchdog group, Eric Brenner, Director, Maryland Governor's Grants Office, Office of the Governor, and yours truly, in my capacity as editorial page editor of The Washington Examiner and proprietor of Tapscott's Copy Desk blog.

I've been asked to address what I believe will be the impact on journalism of having the proposed database available to the public. The basic thrust of my testimony will be to explain why I believe the existence of a comprehensive public database of federal spending will have a major impact on journalism, just as did the public availability of campaign finance databases.

I find it interesting that the second panel focuses on journalism, rather than the ameliorative effect that sunlight will have on spending proposals, especially earmarks. Toadstools and corruption grow in the dark, as we have noted many times on this blog. I don't believe that Dr. Coburn prescribed the database to cure any ills of journalism, after all, but to kill off the disease that afflicts politicians when they hold too much power with too little oversight. Journalism plays an important role in that effort, but as we have seen, they also tend to cover the stories they want and ignore the rest.

The real value in this database will come not just from exposing line-item spending to the mainstream media, but from exposing it to all of the taxpayers equally. I predict that 10,000 blogs will be born just to focus on the spending habits of their own representatives. Constituents can use their computers to do their own research on the types of spending that their Congressmen and Senators sponsor. How many Bridges to Nowhere will survive that kind of scrutiny? How many politicians will earmark money for federal highways that bring heavy traffic to property that they themselves own if they know that anyone can look it up at any time and make the connections?

Fortunately for us. Mark can speak on behalf of both the MSM and the blogosphere on July 18th, and I am certain he will take that opportunity. This database puts the power back where it belongs: in the hands of the people.

Sphere It Digg! View blog reactions
Posted by Ed Morrissey at July 14, 2006 7:46 AM

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