Earmarks

A brief political note.

The normal federal government budget process allocates money to various branches of the executive, which then follow their own internal procedures to decide how to allocate that money. An earmark is an allocation of money by Congress directly to a specific project, bypassing the executive. That's all.

If you say that you oppose all earmarks, you're therefore either saying that you oppose Congressional allocation of federal government funds instead of executive-branch allocation of funds, and hence saying that you trust Obama's administration more than Congress, or you're saying that you oppose all government spending (in which case you should be honest about that). And, more basically, spending does not become wasteful simply by how the money is allocated. Either the project should be funded or not, and that will continue to be the case whether Congress allocates the money directly or the executive branch allocates it.

If you advocate eradication of earmarks, what you are in practice advocating is a naked power grab by the executive branch, bypassing the Congressional power of the purse. There's a reason why Obama isn't doing that, and instead is proposing a much more nuanced review process that recognizes that earmarks aren't necessarily bad projects.

You may also want to keep in mind that if you're getting your information about earmark projects from the news media, you are judging them entirely on the basis of sound-bite, short-phrase explanations of often-complex projects. By doing that, you risk doing what Jindal did and looking like a complete idiot when you oppose volcano monitoring in Washington State, something that's as clearly and obviously a proper government role in public safety as anything I can imagine.

Posted: 2009-03-11 17:00 — Why no comments?

Last spun 2013-07-01 from thread modified 2013-01-04