"They've been going on since we were a country."
That's Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid, speaking in defense of "earmarks." An earmark is Washington lingo for what most people outside the Capital Beltway refer to as pork barrel spending -- when a politician inserts into a bill a set amount of money for a specific project in his or her home district.
Earmarks allow politicians to brag that they're "bringing home the bacon," and members of Congress tout them to voters in the hopes of buying... er, winning support...
Rebecca Hagelin has a great column here about the excessive (and then some!) spending addictions of our political representatives.