Thursday, December 02, 2010

Earmarks: A Pretty Good Description

The big problem with earmarks isn't that they add up to so much money, nor that they go to pay for teapot museums. Bryan Preston has a pretty good description of the problem over at Pajamas Media:
Earmarks have a way of obtaining votes for legislation that might not otherwise pass, and in turn commit dollars that probably wouldn’t get spent otherwise. Say a congressman has been trying to get a few million dollars in federal funds for some project in his district, but hasn’t been able to make that happen on its own merits, for the simple reason that congressman outside that district don’t see the need for their own constituents to pay for that project. Along comes the chairman of thus-and-such committee with a multi-billion dollar piece of legislation that’s completely disconnected from the congressman’s pet project, and which the congressman opposes on principle. But the chairman needs the congressman’s vote and the congressman wants to attach his project to something, anything, that gets passed, so the horse trading over the bad multi-billion dollar legislation begins. And pretty soon the few million dollar project that the congressman wants buys his vote on massive legislation that he otherwise opposes. So here we have two projects that get through the sausage factory and the taxpayers get stuck with the tab even though, on their own merits, both projects would have and probably should have failed.

That’s the kind of daily, year in and year out corruption that earmarks enable on bill after bill after bill, exploding the debt and imperiling the nation. And that’s why they need to go.
For some reason an awful lot of defenders want us to focus on the "trivial" amounts of the earmarks themselves.

Go figure.

Oh, that Teapot Museum? It closed in January.

It looks like the North Carolina taxpayers got skinned worse than the federal taxpayers. Makes me feel all warm and fuzzy.

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