The return of earmarks

  • 8 February 2017
  • NormanL
The return of earmarks

One of official Washington's worst habits is trying (once again) to make a comback: 

...perhaps the best evidence that Washington has not changed its big-spending ways is the continued push by some members of Congress to revive “earmarks.”

Republican appropriators already tried this gambit once. Led by Representative Tom Rooney of Florida, they attempted to eliminate the ban on earmarks from House rules shortly after the November election. Fortunately, public opposition spurred the timely intervention of House speaker Paul Ryan, who killed the proposal.

But in Washington, bad ideas never die. Like the latest incarnation of Freddy Krueger, earmarks have risen from the grave and are once again being pushed by the usual suspects, including Rooney and Representatives John Culberson of Texas, Mike Rogers of Alabama, and Mike Kelly of Pennsylvania. The new incarnation, now renamed “line item appropriations,” would once again allow representatives to insert specific spending for district projects without subjecting those proposals to full scrutiny. Call it what you will — it is a recipe for pork-barrel spending and corruption.

Some of our sources on Capitol Hill say earmarks aren't all bad. They represent money that has already been appropriated, so it isn't new spending. And, because they can be traced back to a specific member of Congress, earmarks are also fairly transparent.

Perhaps. But we also understand that earmarks are the grease that keeps the congressional spending machine running (not that members of Congress need any prodding...they are masters at spending, and borrowing, other people's money).

Earmarks are a bad idea, regardless of what label congressmen slap on them, or rationalizations they and their staff members dream up to defend them. 

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