Democrats looking to bring back earmarks

  • 20 November 2018
  • NormanL

There's no question Democrats will run the House differently when they take over in January. Some of the changes won't make much difference. But one that's in the works would be a huge step backwards. As Grover Norquist writes in the Washingtron Examiner, Democrats are seriously contemplating the return of earmarks:

Earmarks are when individual congressmen stick a specific goodie into a larger spending bill, usually something of personal political benefit to themselves: a few million for their alma mater or subsidies for a local developer. The Pentagon might be directed (ordered) to buy a weapons system it does not want or need but is built in the district of the congressman.

Yes, it is often corruption in the rankest sense. Campaign dollars, or just cash, flow from the beneficiary of the gift of tax dollars (a person, company) to the generous congressman.

But that is just a few tens of billions misdirected.

Earmarks are the currency of corruption and big spending. Earmarks are given to buy the vote of a congressman who gags at overspending in a large appropriations bill, but can find it in his heart to forgive and endorse and vote for this waste if it includes a lovely gift for their district. Earmarks buy bad votes.

Earmarks are used to buy the votes of congressmen who would never vote for the overall package standing alone, without a bribe.

Earmarks are used to grease the wheels of big government, and they weaken Congress as an equal branch of government.

Norquist notes the GOP did away with earmarks in 2010, when they took control of the House. Ending earmarks didn't put the breaks on federal spending. But it did bring an end to a shameful, secretive practice that served as a kind of gateway drug to larger abuses of trust.

We would not be surprised to see earmarks return under a Democratic House. Nor would we be surprised to see a number of Republicans eagerly embrace their return. Remember, the spending addiction is bipartisan and earmarks were a way to hide that addicition from the folks back home.