Congressman John Campbell (CA-48) led a bloggers briefing at the Heritage Foundation today. Campbell is the major House force behind the "Semper Fi Act", which would remove $2 million of earmarks from the city of Berkeley, California and give them to the Marines.
The Berkeley City Council, in late January, passed a resolution calling the U.S. Marines "unwanted and unwelcome intruders" in the college town, and "encourage[d] all people to avoid cooperation with the Marine Corps recruiting station, and applaud residents and organizations such as Code Pink, that may volunteer to impede, passively or actively, by nonviolent means, the work of any military recruiting office located in the City of Berkeley."
And what would Berkeley have used the $2 million for? Well, $243,000 of it is specifically earmarked to pay one local restaurant to provide "organic" lunches for Berkeley Public Schools.
And apparently Berkeley's attachment to gourmet-quality organic fare is more powerful than its distaste for the Marine presence. Tonight the Berkeley City Council is convening, once again, to "reconsider" the resolution. When asked by AmSpec Managing Editor J.P. Freire when we can expect to see similar bills stripping earmarks from San Francisco, or Madison, Wisconsin, or any number of other cities nationwide, Campbell allowed that Berkeley was an extreme case that can be used to shine the light on the problem of earmarks in general.
Plus, they attacked the Marines.
But what of the idea that earmarks are "just" 1% of the budget?
"Only in Washington," said Campbell, "is $30 billion dollars considered no big deal."